One day Emily came into therapy and said “I’ve stopped stealing and now it hurts”, “What do you have to put in it’s place?”.
Emily (age 13) came to therapy with her mother. Emily had become an ace thief and as her mother worked for the police, there was no better way to upset Mum than this.
Emily had an older sibling who still lived with her birth mother and with whom she had telephone contact. Emily felt betrayed becausethe sibling had given her birth mother information about where she lived leading to distressing phone calls. This was particularly frightening because her mother still lived with the man who had abused her, but Emily did not know how to share these confused feelings with her mother. They were both stuck.
Through music they shared and explored feelings, difficult situations and fun. They were noisy and enthusiastic. They devised a plan to put a small frog-like instrument on their mantel piece as a sign that either of them needed a hug.
In discussions we were able to help Emily realise that she stole to give herself a buzz which stopped her feeling sad. One day she came to therapy and said: ‘I have stopped stealing and now it hurts. What have you got to put in it’s place?’ I was amazed by this wisdom and trust that adults could help her find something else to take the place of the excitement of stealing. There was no quick answer and in fact the answer was in the asking – trust. Together Emily and her mother worked out a plan to cope with the contact with her family; what they were going to do when Emily felt sad and new things to do together to build up a feeling of shared enjoyment.