Posted: 29/05/2012 in Uncategorized

Adrian is a research chemist. Well, he should be. He has one big obstacle to get himself over. Adrian is ABD, otherwise known in the academic world as ‘All But the Dissertation’. In other words he has done everything he needs to do, knows all the stuff, could give a lecture and probably even front a television programme on his topic, but he hasn’t submitted the big document that his university wants from him. He has deferred his completion date and viva twice.

He consulted me eighteen months ago about the intermediate paper that upgrades a post-grad student to full Phd candidate. EMDR is pretty good at helping with writer’s block, performance anxiety and serious procrastination. I thought he had left it far too late. Ideally you need at least three sessions well before you sit down to the gut-wrenching task of tackling a big project that has huge meaning for you. We had three weeks to submission day,  with only enough time for one EMDR session, and I honestly thought it wasn’t enough therapeutic time. I was wrong. He handed in bang on time, and did well.

The problem is that recently he came back to me for help with The-Big-One . . . and I said no. I know this probably cast me in the role of the withholding mother, the evil witch, perhaps even the wicked tease. But I knew his history. I knew he always asked someone to hold his hand to help him get through every challenge in his adult life. I also knew that everyone did rally round and help. He had been through multiple supervisors, had a very good therapist, and numerous friends had provided food, accommodation and a sympathetic ear since his undergraduate days (Adrian is now thirty-five). I could handle a bit of demonizing if it meant he would tackle the task unaided. I’m pretty sure he ‘hates’ me.

There comes a point where you have to assess whether help is disabling or enabling. I knew that just over a year ago Adrian had applied his rear end to a seat in front of a computer and written what was required of him. All the help and therapy and perhaps the EMDR session had helped him get to the seat, but he had written that document. My thinking was that the time had come for him to rely on himself, to remind himself that he had delivered before and could do it again. And time for him to take the credit.

I don’t know whether he has done that. I know that if he fails he will probably blame me. I’m hoping that he won’t, and he will submit his dissertation and finally be proud of himself. A stumbling block or stepping stone? Entirely Adrian’s choice. A turning point certainly.

Here endeth the fable.


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