Bella was fifteen and had a very troubled relationship with her father. Her father had never had a good relationship with his own cold and distant parents, and he found it difficult to be any closer to his children. His own marriage was not much happier, and he tended to be very passive both at home and at work. Bella didn’t like how her father never stood up for himself, and yet she found herself putting him down all the time. She was also very over-controlling in her social circles. As a result, her friends started spending less and less time with her, and Bella became increasingly unhappy as time went on.
One day, things came to a head when Bella was particularly annoyed by something minor that her father did and screamed at him. This in itself was not unusual, but his reaction was. He started addressing her by a different name and acting as if she was a different person altogether. He didn’t snap out of it, and what started as a somewhat bizarre episode quickly spiralled into a major breakdown. Bella felt hugely guilty and utterly despondent, thinking she’d broken her father in some way, even though everyone reassured her that that wasn’t true. When a week went by and things were no better for either of them, Bella’s mother called Kav L’Noar and asked if the team could treat both her husband and her daughter simultaneously.
Bella and her father were assigned two different Kav L’Noar therapists. Her father’s therapist worked with him first on identifying what had triggered the breakdown. It seemed that being screamed at by his daughter had taken him back to an incident that had happened in the street many years previously, involving a public assault by a mentally disturbed screaming man. Bella’s father, used to being belittled, had never talked about this incident with anyone, or ever really processed what had happened. The therapist helped him work through the event and how it had affected him. However, this was not the main part of the therapy. Most of the therapist’s efforts focused on helping Bella’s father build a positive sense of personal identity for the first time. He had never been encouraged to see himself as capable of anything or to take responsibility for his own life and relationships. The therapist empowered him to recognize positive qualities in himself that he had always dismissed, and to recognize that his wife depended on him in her own way and that his personal and professional roles were just as important as hers.
Meanwhile, Bella’s therapist worked with her in a parallel process of identity building, helping her disentangle herself from some of the complicated and somewhat negative influences that she had experienced at home and reconnect to her true sense of self. She gave Bella space to grieve for her parents’ imperfections while also acknowledging how important both her mother and her father were to her.
After a few months, the two therapists held some joint sessions for both Bella and her father. It was important that both therapists co-ran these sessions because they didn’t want either client to feel that there was a lead therapist on someone’s ‘side.’ The joint sessions were a big success. Both Bella and her father felt heard, and they both found it helpful to be able to speak to each other openly and be able to address painful issues together in the safety of the therapy room, with their own trusted therapists right there to guide and support them.
Bella felt ready to finish therapy first, and a few months later, her father also said goodbye to his therapist. Both said that they felt in a much stronger place, both in terms of their relationship with each other, and in their own skins.
Six years went by and then one day Bella picked up the phone to her Kav L’Noar therapist again. She said that the progress made in the therapy had lasted, and that she and her father enjoyed an excellent relationship these days. She also said that her parents’ marriage had improved, and her father seemed much more confident and content. She wasn’t calling about any of that. She was calling because she was now dating seriously, and felt like she needed some professional guidance and support.
When she came in, the therapist was struck by how different Bella was from her memory of the teenager. Of course, Bella was now an adult, but more than that, she just seemed sure what she wanted and what she deserved. This time, Bella just needed a couple of months of sessions to give her the extra confidence she needed at a time of such important transition. Bella knew that no matter what life stage she got to, and what challenges she faced, Kav L’Noar would always be there for her.