Counselling Dilemma: A Family “Break-Up”
The client, Helen, is 56 years old. She has been happily married for 32 years to Barry, who works for the local council. Helen and Barry’s first child, a boy, was stillborn. Helen fell pregnant again very quickly to help get over the loss. They now have two adult daughters, Vicky and Sharon. Vicky, the eldest daughter, is married with two children and lives interstate. Unfortunately, Helen doesn’t get to see them very often because of the distance.
Sharon, the youngest, has been living with her partner, Graham, for over five years. Sharon and Graham decided early on in the relationship that they would not have children and would not marry. Graham’s parents died in a car accident some years ago and consequently Graham and Helen have become very close. A few months ago, Sharon found out that she was pregnant. She had been taking antibiotics for a chest infection and did not realise that they could affect the contraception pill.
Sharon terminated the pregnancy even though Graham had asked her to wait because he was having second thoughts about their decision not to have children. This situation led to the breakdown of their relationship and they have now separated. Graham has moved away and neither Sharon nor Helen have heard from him for over three weeks.
Helen has come to see you because she is feeling very angry with her daughter Sharon. She blames her for the break-up and thinks that Sharon was very selfish not to consider Graham’s feelings. She envies her friends who can visit their grandchildren regularly and is missing Graham very much. He has been like a son to her.
As Helen’s counsellor, how would you approach this case?