Jonathan was in his first year at university, studying Economics. But he was not working hard enough and this made him feel so guilty that he could barely look at a book. He was also smoking a lot of dope and feeling guilty about that too.

During holidays he would go back to live with his parents, who kept telling him that he should be working 9-5 every day. They had done well at university, and they thought he should too. But Jonathan couldn’t ever seem to start work before 11 am and so each day would get off to a very bad start. He felt he needed to justify his existence by pulling out good grades. This was taking away all his enjoyment of the subject. This is why he came to see me in the holidays.

He started to understand why he was smoking so much cannabis: to obliterate the constant guilt of disappointing his parents. After a few discussions with me, Jonathan decided that he wanted to confront them and ask them to let him work in his own way. They reacted well to this because they hadn’t realised how much pressure they were putting on him. He observed that he was ‘not a morning person’ and didn’t need to work 9-5. He could work better and more efficiently in the afternoons. This gave him time to see his old school friends who he was missing at university.

Jonathan had three sessions in all and felt confident about going back to university on his own terms.