Teaching: Relationship Problems

QUALITY SCHOOL RESOURCES  Choice Theory Axioms Workshop from Murray High School

Axiom #3 All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.


Axiom #4 The problem relationship is always part of our present lives.

1. Have a student read Axioms #3 and #4 aloud to the rest of the group.

2. (15 min.) Allow students to declare whether or not they agree with this
axiom. Each student should give some examples to
support their opinions.

Count up how many agree and how many disagree and write the
numbers below:

Agree with Axiom #3 Disagree with Axiom #3

At beginning: _________ _________
At ending: _________ _________

Agree with Axiom #4 Disagree with Axiom #4

At beginning: _________ _________
At ending: _________ _________

3. (5 min.) What are some long-lasting psychological problems that people
often have? Fill in the list below:
Someone who is choosing to:
a. clinically depress
b. abuse his/her spouse

4. (30 min.) Each person in the group should take on the persona of one of the
characters with psychological problems listed above. Each
student should try to intepret the causes of the
psychological problems of the character selected from the
— Each person should attempt to say four or five sentences (or
more) from the point of view of the character selected. Be
sure to have the character explain what he/she believes
caused the psychological problems.
** For instance:

Abuser: I can’t help myself. I just have to hit them one. When my daddy used
to make me feel so helpless — he used to hit me whenever he got
drunk, which was most of the time — I made up my mind that I
would never be helpless ever again and so now, I am the one in
charge and I can do whatever I want to do. No one can stop me.
You know what I like most of all? I like how frightened everyone is
of me.
— After every participant does his/her monologue from the point of view
of the character they have selected, have the group
determine the causes of the psychological problem. For
instance, in this case, students might say that the abuser’s
relationship with his father is at the root of his problem.

5. (20 min.) Once everyone has had a chance to act out and discuss the
problems of the character they have selected, ask the
following questions:

a. What does each person above believe to be the cause of their problems?
b. What does each person above really WANT?
c. Would it be possible for each of the characters listed above to change? How?
What process would be helpful?
d. Is it likely that these characters you have listed above have present happy
— Give some examples.
e. Is it possible to have a happy present relationship if there are problem
relationships in our pasts? Explain.

6. (20 min.) Choose at least one of the characters listed below.
— Read their explanation for the troubles they are having.
— As a friend or counselor, help them figure out a way to solve
their problems.

a. A young woman feels trapped at home with her alcoholic mother when
she wants to go to college.

“My mother is an alcoholic and her life is a mess. If I left her alone, she
could burn down the house or kill herself and I would never forgive
myself. She would hate me if I left her like my father left her. I want to go
away to college, but I could never leave my mother. I owe it to her to take
care of her like she took care of me.”

b. A young man believes there is nothing he can do about his “anger

“Look at my arm. I cut it to the bone. I have an anger problem. I got
really mad at my father and I could have stabbed him, but I cut my arm
instead. I’ve spent time in three lockup institutions, once because I took
a sledgehammer to the inside of my house. I’m on every medication
known to man and I’m seeing two different psychologists. No one can
stop my anger. It’s a real problem and I’ll have to deal with it for the rest
of my life.”

— Consider the following questions:

— Where are the feelings expressed above coming from?
— Do the people in the two situations above have strong, positive,
current relationships?
— Explain.
— What did your counselors/friends suggest that helped the person
feel happier?
— What would be a stronger way for each person to tell their own

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