Luigi is returning for his second session today. In case you missed the first part, it’s available here: http://www.mikemcmahanlpc.com/therapy-goes-pop-blog/luigi-goes-to-psychotherapy-session-1
Today we will see how Luigi completed his homework assignment and how the completion of this assignment is used to help Luigi make progress towards his goal of starring in a new game. In addition, there will be some clarification of how Luigi perceives a key relationship in his life and some role-playing.
TGP: Welcome back, Luigi. What’s gotten better since the last time we visited?
Luigi: Oh, I don’t know. I’m still feeling a lot of the same negative feelings that we talked about last time.
TGP: I’m sorry to hear that, and I definitely want to talk more about it. I know it can be really hard to feel so down all the time. Just getting out of bed can be an achievement. But before we do, can you think of anything that might have gotten slightly better?
Luigi: Well, hmmmmmm. I guess things are going a little bit better with my brother. I don’t feel like blasting him with a fireball every time he walks in the room.
TGP: That’s something! So you’re a little less angry, a little more calm…?
Luigi: I’d say so.
TGP: That’s a great step, as I know you were feeling pretty frustrated with Mario when I saw you last.
Luigi: The homework assignment that you gave me helped some. I started thinking about the things that I’ve been doing to get my own game franchise really going, and I realized that I’ve always had a good working relationship with Mario.
TGP: How so?
Luigi: Well, he’s always encouraged the higher ups at Nintendo to let me collaborate on the tougher sections, which is kind of my forte. I think I mentioned that last week.
TGP: You did.
Luigi: Yeah, and once I started thinking about it, he really listens to my ideas on his games.
TGP: I notice that you said “his games” even though they are Super Mario BROTHERS…
Luigi: Well, I said that too last time. He’s got his name in the title.
TGP: Yes, you did. What do you think Mario would say about this conversation, if he was sitting here with us?
Luigi: I think he would be surprised. I haven’t ever really talked to him about the way I feel about his name being so prominent. He might think I was a little ungrateful, too. I suppose he didn’t have to include me. After all, he had a leg up after being the sole hero in Donkey Kong. And I think he thinks that he gave me the opportunity of a lifetime including me in the live action show in the 80s.
TGP: I forgot about that….
Luigi: It hasn’t aged well. I wish someone would take it down from Netflix. I guess Nintendo is making money somehow.
TGP: It is different to see you non-animated.
Luigi: Blecccccchh. Don’t remind me.
TGP: OK, so Mario feels like he’s been a huge help all these years, but you feel like it’s something of both. But your relationship is not something you want to change.
Luigi: Yeah, that sounds kind of confusing when you say it like that. I guess what I mean is I like the way he listens to me on some things but I wish there was more of it.
TGP: So, is it fair to say that the thing you don’t want to change is the positive parts of that relationship? The collaborations you mentioned?
Luigi: Yeah, that’s fair. What’s good is good, I just want more of it. But when he acts like everything I have is because of him… I don’t like that. I also don’t like that he somehow always seems to end up with Princess Peach. You’d think maybe a new female part could be cast…? (twirls moustache)
TGP: So you’d like to have some support outside of your brother. You mention Peach. How did she become involved in the series in the first place?
Luigi: I’m not sure. But I do know she brought Bowser into the game. He’s obsessed with her!
TGP: You mean in the games? The way he’s always kidnapping her?
Luigi: No, for real. Guy’s a total nut. Real headcase. But she and Mario put up with it because he’s seen as irreplaceable.
TGP: Like you?
Luigi: (pauses) Yeah… (another pause) I guess so. I mean, they can’t just recast me….
TGP: Right. So you’re an integral part of the franchise, even if you aren’t frequently the lead. What would it be like if you left?
Luigi: I don’t think it could go on. “Brothers” is right there in the title!
TGP: So, you’re an integral part of the creative team, who wants to be more creative, more of a leader and perhaps meet a new female character. Maybe someone to become involved with yourself. Where do you think you could meet her?
Luigi: There’s some castles in the area, but you usually have to slide down pipes to get inside. That’s less than ideal.
TGP: Well, if you want to meet someone it’s never easy.
Luigi: True. If it was easy, I would have already met someone.
TGP: OK, so say you meet this new female character. So that’s covered. And you mentioned that you like your current collaborative relationship with Mario. How can you use the skills you’ve discussed today to make a small step towards your own game franchise?
Luigi: Well, maybe I could just be honest and tell him straight up? No fighting, no fireballs, no giant, out-of-control hammers. Just lay it out.
TGP: Why don’t you pretend I’m Mario and practice telling me? Maybe it will help you find your words.
Luigi: OK. (pauses and takes a deep breath) “Hey, Mario. You got a second? I’ve been thinking a lot and I’m really… I’ve got some ideas for a new game. You know I love getting to help out on the tough levels on Mario Brothers and since Luigi’s Mansion was such a hit, I thought maybe you could help me talk to the higher ups about making something really tough and challenging. Toughest game ever. I could include my new girlfriend. (As an aside, Luigi says “I’d know her name by then.”) I’ve got some really great ideas if you want to listen.”
TGP: That’s great, Luigi. How do you think he would respond?
Luigi: I think he would listen and help me. Whenever we talk seriously like that it usually works out pretty well, actually.
TGP: OK, well don’t talk to him yet. I think you’re still thinking things through and you don’t want to change too much too fast.
Luigi: I’m not ready yet anyway.
TGP: We’re about to run out of time. Did we talk about what you wanted to cover today?
Luigi: Yes, definitely. I’d like to schedule another appointment.
TGP: OK. For homework, I want you to think about what you think the best scene, sequence or challenge that you’ve come up with previously is. Or at least your favorite. And also consider what makes it successful. And I want you to think of one that’s slightly better or adds some intriguing new element. Not the ultimate scene ever, which you may get eventually. But just a slight, tiny one up and what you’ve already done.
Luigi: I can do it. See you next time.
Luigi seems to be making some progress, as he noted at the beginning of the session. Oftentimes initially asking the question “what has gotten better since last time?” will help set the tone for a therapy session and the client may verbalize or recognize strengths or slightly alter their narrative in a helpful way. It’s also notable that he is seeing some positives in his relationship with his brother, something he was struggling with during the first session. In addition, looking at possible solutions for his problem led him to realize that he might be interested in adding in a new person in his social life. His homework assignment will hopefully help him apply one of his strengths in a way that will take him another step towards his goal.
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Therapy Goes POP
Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture