Thursday, May 31, 2018

Modeling an Error

Suzanne’s pout covered her pretty face.  She was attractive and she knew it.  But her plan to become a model had been thwarted.   At this moment, she was being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  Her career goals had been disrupted when she had a seizure and was diagnosed as epileptic.  She no longer saw herself as perfect.  She totally crashed and made a feeble attempt to kill herself. 
We started meeting and developing a treatment plan.  She told me about her suicide attempt, which she admitted was lame.  We talked about what she had to do to get her life back.  We reviewed the potential therapies she could receive.  She immediately asked to be in the “Models” group.  
She was angry and petulant.  She hated her disease and we encouraged her to hate it.  The more she put her anger on the disease, rather than herself, the sooner she’d be over this setback in her life.  She really wasn’t interested in suicide.  She wanted to live but was angry at her body and at her family.  As we dug deeper we discovered that much of her behavior was dictated by the hurt from her parent’s divorce.  
During our meetings we talked about the epilepsy; how it changed her life and all the ways that it wouldn’t change her life.  We encouraged her to educate herself regarding epilepsy and she did.  She knew her life would change but came to accept the challenge.  She saw the connection between her extreme behavior and her parent’s divorce.  Once again she nurtured the idea of becoming a model.  
One day I asked her how the groups were going.   Her face fell.  She was disappointed in the models group.  The group focused on several hyperactive adolescent boys, each with the assignment of assembling a plastic model.  She had her choice of putting together an airplane or a car.  She chose the car.  She added that the boys were obnoxious.  This was not helping her learn how to model.  I had stupidly not thought about the goals of the group.  
I was slightly embarrassed that she thought she would learn how to be a super model in a therapy group in a psychiatric hospital.  It was clear that she knew nothing about what it meant to be a model or be in a psychiatric hospital.   Following our success with her educating herself about epilepsy we decided she should learn more about modeling.  
Long before google was available, I believed in going right to the source to discover more information.  During one of our talks I stumbled on the idea of calling a modeling agency and asking them questions about the life of a model.  We came up with a list of questions she would ask.  The yellow pages in our area only offered a couple of options for modeling agencies and I called the first one on the page and handed her the phone. 
She was all excited to talk to them and pulled herself up to her full height to put on her most mature self.  She started asking questions and then you could tell that they were asking her questions.  As she listened and responded to the agency, her face changed; it became darker and you could see the discomfort in her eyes.  Briefly, she was done and put down the phone.  
“How was that?  Did you find out what you wanted to know?”  
“Not exactly” she answered.  
“What do you mean?”  
“It wasn’t the kind of modeling I am looking for.”
“What was it?”  
“They were looking for erotic dancers.  I’m not interested in that kind of modeling.”

OMG!  I was embarrassed.  She was embarrassed.  I know my intentions were to be helpful.  I didn’t plan to put her in a compromising position.  But I felt terrible.  Soon, she left the hospital and never returned.  I’ll never know what she ended up doing with her life.  But we both got a little more educated that morning.  I rarely put my clients on the phone any more.  I let them do that on their own time.  It was a simple mistake and I can now see the humor in it; but at the time I was horrified that I put her in that position.