In this discussion you will apply some of your understanding of family therapy to the following scenario:
Debbie is 18 years old and has come in to see a counselor because she knows that she desperately needs help. Debbie says that she sleeps 14 to 15 hours a day and would probably sleep the whole day if her mother did not wake her up to go to college. She says that she has lost interest in everything. Her parents want her to be a doctor, but she feels that this is not what she wants to be. Debbie prefers to be alone in her room. Her mother constantly nags her about her laziness and sarcastically cuts her down as a way to “motivate” her to do something with her life. Debbie has a very strained relationship with her father who is seldom at home because he is working two jobs. The future seems hopeless to Debbie, and she often thinks about committing suicide, though her parents do not know this. She has thought of cutting her wrist but has not been able to do so. She keeps hoping that she will feel better the next day. Her counselor has diagnosed Debbie with depression and is suggesting that in addition to Debbie’s individual counseling the family also begin counseling sessions.
Please respond to the following questions:
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- Of the three approaches to family therapy mentioned in the lecture notes this week (Experiential, Structural and Strategic), which do you think Debbie and her family would benefit from most? Give a detailed rationale for your choice with supportive evidence from the case study.
- If you were the therapist working with Debbie and her parents, what would you assess as the main problem they are facing as a family? Be detailed in your response and include all three members in your assessment. Since a family system is a unit, all members affect each other.
- How would you specifically intervene using the family therapy approach mentioned in question 1? Suggest at least two methods or techniques from your chosen theory that you believe would help this family toward healthier interaction. Explain each of these methods or techniques in detail.
When discussing families in the context of therapy, we often refer to a family as a “system” made up of individual, interconnected components. When one member of a family is experiencing an issue, the other components of the system (the other family members) are all impacted. This is why family therapy is necessary even when only one individual seems to display symptoms.
In this discussion, we must address Debbie’s symptoms while considering her family’s contribution to her distress, as well. I look forward to reading how you will apply your understanding of family therapy to this scenario!