CONGRUENCE CASE STUDY
READ THE CASE STUDY ‘GEORGIE’
WORKING IN PAIRS, ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
Georgie does not seem very bright and he has very few social skills. He attended a special school from when he started to fall behind at about seven until he left school three years ago. He is a big shambling man who does not work, and lives in rather poorly run ‘sheltered’ accommodation where he is expected to be out during the day. He goes to the local recreation ground most days. He is usually on his own. Sometimes he sits by the swing, and talk to the children playing there. One day it emerges that he has been inviting children to go on walks with him, and eventually one of the children, Ruth, who has been talking to him regularly, tells her mum of the games they sometime play. Ruth seems to be saying that she has sexually abused. Her mum is angry and frightened by Ruth’s story.
Len is a police constable who is on cell duty just after Georgie is brought in. He’s a young officer with a family, including a little girl about Ruth’s age. Len does not identify with the macho culture that many think typifies police work. He thinks of himself a tough but quite gentle and his real interest in children’s welfare means that he has been training to do Child Welfare Liaison, so he has learned a bit about helping.
Georgie was really upset when they brought him in, alternately crying and shouting that he’s sorry and he hasn’t hurt anyone, and being sullen and angry, sitting in the cell hitting his head and denying that he did anything. Len is concerned that Georgie might hurt himself, and so decides to visit the cells on a regular and frequent basis. He looks in on Georgie making somewhat vague, ‘calming’ comments, but after a couple of hours Len notices that Georgie has changed, he is sitting on the bed shaking and weeping silently.
Len decides to make him a cup of tea and talk a bit. Seeing this shambling youth just silently sobbing engages him somehow. He has no investigative role, he just has to keep the subject safe and secure. Len hopes that a few minutes general chat may help Georgie calm down, he tries the football and the weather, but Georgie is not up to that. Len wonders if there is anyone Georgie needs to tell and that triggers another tearful outburst and Georgie breaks again into half-fantasies about how everyone is going to hate him and that he will be beaten up and no-one will believe he didn’t do anything to them. Len stays calm on the outside, he’s a good officer, but inside he feels something go as he hears Georgie justify and explain his games with the girls. Len thinks of his own little girl and is suddenly overcome with the ides that if Georgie did do it he would ‘knee him in the balls so that he’ll not be able to do it again’. But part of him can still see the frightened youth who touched a more gentle chord a few minutes before.
Both his professionalism and a bit of knowledge he has about helping line up to enable him to make a gentle empathic comment: " And now you are really scared about what’s going to happen to you". As Georgie responds to this Len finds his compassionate self more and more engaged. He listens empathetically and with respect for Georgie’s hurt humanity. After a bit Georgie seems calmer, and Len gets him to drink his tea.
(Pete Sanders-Next steps in counselling p.53)
Was Len being helpful in this situation?
What was he doing that fits with the core conditions?
In what ways did his attempts at helping fit with the core conditions?
If you need to know a bit more about congruence and the core conditions go to