Outcomes Offered

■ Personal empowerment

■ Improved interpersonal relationships

■ Control over problems like drugs

■ Goal achievement

I once met a guy called Leonard, though all his buddies called him Leo and he even preferred Leo, himself. He didn't particularly want to see me. His mother had dragged him into my office, almost by the scruff of his neck. He sat looking down at the floor, his baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, and she did all the talking.

What she had to say was all pretty negative. Leo was constantly in trouble at school and had been expelled several times. He had left school early and had fallen into some bad company. He had lost several jobs by fighting with the boss and he was now stacking goods in a warehouse—a position that bored him to tears. He was in constant conflict with his father. His parents bought him a car that he crashed and ruined in the first couple of months. He was now doing dope and speed.

I felt pretty bad hearing all the negative things she told me about Leo and wondered how he felt, even though I'm sure that he'd heard them many times over.

When I saw Leo alone I said, "I have heard all the things Mom has said about you and what she wants to be happening. I'm wondering what you want."

"Some peace at home," he replied, adding, "Dad's always on my case. My friends aren't good enough. I should have a better job. I totaled his car. I can't do anything right by him."

When his dad got on his back, Leo would tell him where to put it and it often ended in a physical fight.

I asked what he thought he could do to help create more peace at home, and Leo was clear. "Cut down on the speed," he said. "That gets dad's back up and I overreact when I'm using."

I asked what else he wanted. "Another car," he answered. He knew exactly what make and model and how much he needed, so I then inquired what he needed to do to get a new car. "Save some money," he answered simply. How he could do that? "Stop using speed. At the moment I'm spending almost all my wages on it."

When I asked what would help him cut down on the use of speed and save money, I was surprised by how readily he came up with a number of ideas, and he said, "Instead of taking my wallet when I go out, I can just take a few dollars in my pocket for drinks and other things. Also, I could spend more time with friends who don't use and less with those who do."

When I saw him just a week later he had not used any speed for the whole week. It was the first time that he'd been free for that long in the whole time he'd been using.

I was curious about what had helped. Leo just shrugged and said he had stuck with his decisions not to take his wallet with him when he went out on the weekend and to spend more time with friends who didn't use. He had also decided to give his mother a fixed amount from his wages each week so that she could put it in a savings account toward his car. If he had any money left over at the end of the week he would give her that as well.

Leo surprised me how quickly he'd taken those steps and how successful he'd been in overcoming his old habit. What was delightful, too, is that he maintained it. Not everyone does it as quickly and as successfully as Leo. Sometimes it can be a struggle, but I guess Leo showed that it is possible, and he's left me looking forward to something. He has promised to drive up to my office and show me his new car when he gets it.

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