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Cher, Educator-40+ yrs
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 21417
Experience:  M.A., B.A., Author, Information & Research Specialist
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All right, you are assigned to talk to a 19-year old girl who

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All right, you are assigned to talk to a 19-year old girl who has been suspended from college in another state by a faculty who feel she is behaving erratically and may be...well...nuts. The only way she can get back into the college is by meeting various criteria the Dean has imposed on her. One criterion is that she see a counselor while she is suspended. So her mother has brought her by for an appointment.

The young lady is wearing a Charles Manson tee-shirt, a studded dog collar, a leather coat and a leopard-skin-print skirt. Her boots are huge, and her hair is neon-blue and red. She has multiple facial piercings and she is chewing and snapping a mouthful of bubble gum. When you attempt to begin a session with her, she shakes her head, rolls her eyes, and gazes out the window to her left with her arms folded. She won't talk. Sometimes when you ask her a question she rolls her eyes, other times she blows air upwards out her mouth that makes her hair dance off her forehead, and sometimes she shakes her head and groans just a little. But she won't talk.

THIS is resistant silence, my friends, make no mistake. Sooo......what do you do? Any ideas from anybody?
Hi Dorothy,

Is this an assignment for a class you're taking? If so, what is the subject (title) of the class and do you need to answer this in any particular format or number of words? Is it a 'paper', an essay, etc.?

Thanks for all your additional detail.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

There is no format, Its just a decussion that we are having in our human service class. I came up with one problem that though could be the problem with this 19yr old, I want to see if I am on the right track from someone that's in the field.

Hi again, Dorothy, and thanks for your reply.

Is 'Resistant silence' the theory you came up with, or was this part of the scenario?

If this wasn't the theory you came up with, can you tell me what you think the problem could be with this 19 year old?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
This is part of the scenario.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I don't want to tell you what I think, I want to know what you think.


I felt that she obviously wants the attention, but wants everyone to think she doesn't want ANY attention. She has pain/anger, but can only express it through passive/aggressive manipulation.

Thanks, Dorothy.

I already had my answer typed and ready to send, when I was made aware of your most recent post, and I touched on these things in some other words.

There are, of course, various possibilities, from the description of the situation, the girl's appearance and background of erratic behavior. She may be abusing drugs and/or alcohol and this has caused her erratic behavior resulting in her suspension from college. Knowing the details of some of her reported erratic behavior would be helpful in attempting to counsel her, like, for example, did she ever exhibit violent behavior toward others and/or herself? Was her erratic behavior physical or verbal? When she expressed herself, did her thoughts seem coherent?

She may feel overwhelmed with the amount of schoolwork she is required to do and is also, homesick, if this college is not in her hometown, but she will not admit this, because it will make her appear 'weak' and vulnerable. She wants to exude a persona of strength, through her seeming detachment, but this belies her want for human interaction.

From the way she is dressed, she considers herself a 'rebel' and has trouble fitting into mainstream college life, and society, in general. She is 'disdainful' and distrustful of society and those who represent conventional rules/roles. To get her to respond, it would be helpful to reach her on a level she is familiar with and feels she understands well. You could start by asking her where she bought her skirt, or her boots, or where she got her piercings, because you think they're 'cool' and would like to know more about them. By saying you used to know someone in college who dressed in a similar way, would make her feel more comfortable with you, because you are not putting down her appearance, but accepting it, and finding 'common ground' with her, which she could relate to. Empathizing with her and her situation will also be helpful in getting her to relate more positively to you.

When she begins to feel more comfortable with you and less defiant, because this counseling was 'mandated', and she's not there because she chose to be, you might get her to open up more, verbally.

If you continue to talk and watch for non-verbal 'cues' from her, in reaction to what you're saying, this will also provide more insight as to how to reach her and get her to start talking.

Cher and 31 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you Cher, I think this very much on the right track, I do accept and I how do I contact you again.
Hi again, Dorothy, and you're most welcome. Thanks very much for your accept.

If you would like to contact me again, just type 'FOR CHER' to begin your question, and I will see it and reply, when I am next online (I'm typically online from early afternoon until early morning [this time], Eastern time, every day)