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Scenario: You are a counselor seeing the Jameson family. The Jameson family consists of the following primary family members:

  • Joseph – father; 38-year-old African American male
  • Sarah – mother; 35-year-old Latina American woman
  • Steven – Sarah’s son/Joseph’s stepson; 14-year-old Latino male
  • Jessica – Joseph and Sarah’s daughter; 10-year-old Afro-Latina female

In your first session with the Jameson family, you learned the following information.

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Joseph, a prominent local attorney, is married to Sarah, the CEO of a major company. They have come to counseling due to marital issues, as well as discipline issues with Steven. Joseph states that Sarah has been acting suspicious lately and she has been spending increasingly more time away from the family. Sarah’s response to Joseph’s concerns is that he is “overreacting,” and his suspicion is pushing her and the children away.

Steven indicates that his parents’ arguing worries him; he fears a divorce is imminent. He states that he has already survived one divorce and it was tough on him. He does not wish to endure another one. As a consequence of the arguing at home, his grades are slipping. He admits he’s begun to fail many of his classes and complains he cannot concentrate on school.

Jessica echoes Steven’s concerns and adds that she is equally distressed about her parents’ relationship. She has begun to isolate herself, is eating less, and is less vocal in family and social interactions.

During the first counseling session, you observe that Joseph and Sarah sit across the room from each other. The children have decided to sit in the middle, with Steven sitting closer to Joseph, and Jessica sitting closer to Sarah. During one of the conversations about the family’s presenting problem, you notice that Steven tries to talk over his parents quite a bit and even argues with them from time to time. You also notice that, when Joseph speaks to Sarah, he doesn’t maintain eye contact with her, preferring instead to speak directly to you. Finally, you notice that Jessica does not say much throughout the entire first session, even when prompted.

In your conversations about extended family relationships, you learn that Sarah’s mother, Lydia, is very involved in the family’s life. She takes an active role with her grandchildren and tries to ease some of the relational tension between her daughter and Joseph. Sarah’s father, Anthony, is very strict with the family. He is particularly stern with the grandchildren. Furthermore, he believes that a husband should be the head of the household and that a wife should be submissive. Therefore, he encourages Sarah to stay in the relationship with Joseph and “work things out.” You also learn that both Lydia and Anthony are immigrants and devout Catholics. They raised Sarah to practice their faith. Due to their religious and cultural views, they strongly oppose divorce. Consequently, Sarah feels constant pressure to stay in the relationship.

Joseph’s father, David, is very close with his son even though they live far apart from each other. They talk once a week about the kids and Joseph’s relationship with Sarah. Joseph’s mother, Nicole, is estranged from the family; she does not communicate with Joseph and has long since divorced David. As a result, David has admonished Joseph to not “repeat the same mistakes of my marriage.” David is very religious and uses his Protestant faith to encourage and instruct Joseph. Like Sarah’s parents, David’s religious views have also influenced his thoughts about divorce, and he discourages Joseph from considering it. Instead, David urges Joseph to reach out to religious figures in the church community to receive counsel about his marital issues.

Copyright 2021 by University of Phoenix. All rights reserved.

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