Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, May 14, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Lippard: Hello, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Ms. Lippard. How have you been?
Ms. Lippard: God, busy. Frank has me...but I'm not here to talk about work, am I?
Dr. Balis: You can talk about anything you want. If work is a concern, there's no reason we can't discuss it.
Ms. Lippard: Well...there have been changes, and it's making me nervous.
Dr. Balis: Go ahead.
Ms. Lippard: I'm afraid my role is changing at work, and I'm not sure if it's for the better. Major, that's Lloyd Major the CEO, has decided to try for a takeover of Apple. I think I mentioned that. Now that's a much bigger company than this one. Of course we don't have the capital to pay for it, so we're looking at a leveraged buy-out. Frank's job is to figure out the right combination of loans and bonds and so forth to both insure the takeover happens and that the resulting company can still function financially. That's the background. Ah...before I go on, I want to check something with you. Or rather, point something out. Am I doing the "professional?"
Dr. Balis: A little. But it was in context.
Ms. Lippard: I spotted it! It's almost like I can feel the switch. Aren't you proud of me?
Dr. Balis: Yes indeed. That shows great self-awareness.
Ms. Lippard: Okay, cool. Here's where I come in, so I'll try to turn off the professional. Frank has delegated a lot of this work to me. I don't mean he's getting me to do the research, make the calculations, and brainstorm tax strategies--that would be my usual role as his assistant. What's happening is that he's...well, basically, he's made me his partner. We're working on this together. He's treating me as an equal, letting me--no, encouraging me--to come up with my own ideas and flesh them out, make calls to the investment bankers and financial institutions--the whole thing. It makes me nervous.
Dr. Balis: Why's that?
Ms. Lippard: Well, it's something I haven't done before, and I'm clumsy about it. But Frank is holding my hand and being real patient, helping me along. It's more like I'm an apprentice than a partner. At first, I wondered if the project wasn't impossible and he was looking for someone to share the blame when it all went to hell. But the way he's helping me out, I don't think that's likely. But what's really bothering me is that I don't know what's going on. Things are changing and I'm not keeping up with them. And this isn't totally new. Over the past few weeks, Frank's been showing me his filing system, introducing me to contacts. Last week, we even had lunch together and discussed the financial future of SII. Discussed--with Frank asking for my input and not just telling me his vision--so I would be prepared. It's got me all off balance.
Dr. Balis: That's understandable. This sounds like a major change from your regular routine. How are you reacting to it?
Ms. Lippard: Not too badly, actually. Not like the sushi bar incident. God, that was really extreme! Now, I'm back down to my usual smoking routine, not puffing around the house like I sometimes do.
Dr. Balis: Your usual smoking routine?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. One with the six o'clock news, one with the eleven.
Dr. Balis: I see. Go on.
Ms. Lippard: At work it's been so busy, so intense, that I haven't had time to really worry about it. You seems like when there's a lot to do at work, I handle the little annoyances so much better, even at home. It's when work is boring, routine, that I get all worked-up about things. Isn't that odd? When things are really haywire, I can handle it. But when they're not, I...I feel more like they are, more than when they really are. Did that make sense?
Dr. Balis: Do you mean that the busier you are, the better you handle life's little stresses?
Ms. Lippard: Yes.
Dr. Balis: And when your mind is relatively unoccupied, you tend to dwell on the little things, blowing them out of proportion.
Ms. Lippard: Exactly! So that happens a lot?
Dr. Balis: It's fairly common. I believe there are two things going on. First, the mind works better under stress, to some extent. The higher the stress, the more efficient are the thought processes. That's true up to a breaking point, where functionality drops rather precipitously. That's why projects don't get done until the deadline--the pressure heightens the abilities. The second thing, which I think is more significant in your case, is distraction. When you have a lot on your mind, you don't have time left to dwell on little things, so you just let them go. Have you noticed any particular event in the last week or so that would ordinarily cause you anxiety, but that you've managed to just brush off?
Ms. Lippard: Well, I think I was a little more tolerant of things not going my way--lines at the supermarket and such--but I thought that was just your influence.
Dr. Balis: Not likely. We haven't been working together long enough. Although, the simple fact that you're pursuing therapy may relieve your anxiety somewhat. But let's get back to the office. What is it about your new role that's disturbing to you?
Ms. Lippard: That's it exactly--it's a new role. Frank's taken me out of what I'm used to and is making me do things I'm not prepared for. It's a big change and I don't know why he's doing it.
Dr. Balis: But wasn't it a big change when you took this job? I assume you haven't been with SII for your whole career.
Ms. Lippard: No, I haven't. You don't know much about my career, do you? I moved here from North Carolina to take this job. I was an investment banker. Yeah, it was a big change, but it was my doing. Do you see the difference? I knew what I was getting into. I made the calls. I decided to move. That was my idea, and I negotiated it. This is different.
Dr. Balis: When you moved, you were in control of the situation. But these changes are being thrust upon you.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. Well, there it is again, isn't it? Control. Shouldn't we be working on that, instead of wasting time with what's going on at work?
Dr. Balis: Well, in one sense, we are working on the control issues. Part of my job is to help you develop insight into the psychodynamics that influence you. Part of the role of therapy is to help you function better in the present, while developing a core set of beliefs and attitudes that will allow you to function better in the long run. If the control issues are critical right now, we can work on that directly. But what we do here together is not wasted even if all we seem to be doing is discussing your problems at work.
Ms. Lippard: Hum...I'm not sure I follow. Remember, I have a degree in business, not liberal arts.
Dr. Balis: Okay, I'll rephrase. The more comfortable and happy you are in your present circumstances, the easier it is for us to work on really difficult issues that cause you problems both in your private life and at work. So it's okay to talk about what's going on now, before we get into the deeper stuff.
Ms. Lippard: Ah. Okay. So where were we?
Dr. Balis: You mentioned that the changes you're experiencing now are more distressing to you than the ones you went through when you moved here, because then you held the reins and now you're being led.
Ms. Lippard: I like the way you put that--very poetic. Yeah, I'd like to be more...or, rather, less anxious about this. I mean, it's not like I can't handle it. I've coped with bigger changes.
Dr. Balis: That's a good attitude. You've worked yourself up the corporate ladder to the position you're in now, and you seem to be good at it. It's obvious that you have the abilities and the business sense. You haven't been afraid to tackle new challenges before, and at the heart of it, this is just another new challenge.
Ms. Lippard: Okay, yeah. It's just that I didn't take this on of my own accord.
Dr. Balis: But it sounds like you're handling it pretty well so far. You've talked about your anxiety and insecurity, but I haven't heard about any problem behaviors. You've even settled down from last week.
Ms. Lippard: I'm healed!
Dr. Balis: Now...
Ms. Lippard: I know, I know, I was kidding. But it's still pretty uncomfortable, even if I'm dealing with it right now.
Dr. Balis: That may not be such a bad thing. You can learn to use that. Properly channeled, that energy can be used to help you through this.
Ms. Lippard: Like the stress that improves performance you were talking about.
Dr. Balis: Yes, like that.
Ms. Lippard: So I can use my stress to work harder.
Dr. Balis: In a way. Just don't end up putting more pressure on yourself and making it worse.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. Gee, we didn't get much done today, did we?
Dr. Balis: On the contrary, I think you got a great deal accomplished. You identified a problem area, talked it through, and came up with a coping strategy. You recognized the corporate persona and consciously did not allow it to take over the session. And you stayed open and aware of yourself through the whole session. I think that's tremendous progress after only a few sessions.
Ms. Lippard: Well, it was you who came up with the coping strategy. But I guess I'm doing okay. I just wanted to get serious about figuring out where my anxieties are coming from, and we didn't even get started.
Dr. Balis: Ms. Lippard, I have to caution you about getting too eager. If you push too hard, you run the risk of becoming frustrated. You're doing great work here; just be patient and stick with it. The rest will come.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. I'll try to keep that in mind. Same time next week?
Dr. Balis: I'll be here.
Ms. Lippard: I'm looking forward to it. Until then, then.
Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Ms. Lippard.
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