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Family Assessment: Integrating Multiple Clinical Perspectives

  • Verlag: Hogrefe Publishing
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Family Assessment: Integrating Multiple Clinical Perspectives

This book on family assessment integrates psychodynamic and systemic perspectives in a unique way. U.S. and European authors draw from both perspectives and integrate their cultural backgrounds. In this book, the family is evaluated on three levels: the individuals, the dyads and triads, and the family system. Interwoven with clinical examples, the first part discusses the importance of the initial interview, from the first contact with a family to goal setting and treatment planning. The second part presents the various clinical perspectives that underlie the three level model. These perspectives include the family's contextual factors such as its stage in the family life cycle, its social world, and related areas such as parenting styles and behavior. Finally, the third part presents some clinical applications focusing on the use of family sculpting procedures as assessment tools. This family assessment book is a true integration of theoretical perspectives and international expertise, edited and written by leading family assessment researchers in the United States and Europe. It integrates psychodynamic and systemic perspectives on family assessment, with practical application


    Format: PDF
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 302
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781616762407
    Verlag: Hogrefe Publishing
    Größe: 1219 kBytes
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Family Assessment: Integrating Multiple Clinical Perspectives

5 Initial Interview with a Family (p. 81-82)
Volker Thomas


The chapter describes the initial assessment and evaluation of the Smith family, who sought family therapy because the parents were unable to manage their 9 year old son's behavior effectively. The case illustration is structured according to the assessment guidelines provided in the previous chapters.

1. Phone Contact

Ms. Smith called asking for her husband and their 9 year old son Ben to come in for family therapy because they were at their "wits end" trying to manage Ben. Ms. Smith reported that Ben had recently hit her when she tried to discipline him for hurting their family cat. On the phone Ms. Smith sounded hopeless, helpless, and desperate. Although Ben was an excellent student and the parents had not received any complaints from school about his behavior, Ms. Smith had phoned the school and had a long conversation with Ben's school counselor. The counselor had not noticed any defiant or oppositional behavior at school, but at Ms. Smith's request referred the family to our family therapy clinic.

Ben's early development was within normal range with no unusual behavior. Ms. Smith stayed home from her job as an elementary teacher to fully concentrate on raising her only son, while Mr. Smith advanced quickly in his career as a systems analyst for a large company. The family had a good income, moved 4 times before Ben started kindergarten. By then he could read and comprehend math on a 3rd grade level. Ms. Smith and Ben had developed an extremely close relationship in which she partially compensated for missing her husband, who was rarely home due to increasing work responsibilities. When Ben entered kindergarten, Ms. Smith looked for part-time employment as a 4th grade teacher, but could not find a job. She became increasingly depressed, while Ben enjoyed the company of other children and excelled in the very individualized full-day kindergarten program.

It was not until Ben entered 2nd grade that Ms. Smith found employment at the same elementary school. The next two years were rather uneventful, until Ms. Smith lost her job, when Ben entered 4th grade. Ms. Smith became severely depressed again, was hospitalized for a short period of time and stabilized with anti-depressive medication. It was at this time that Ben became increasingly difficult to manage at home. He challenged his mom frequently about rules, threw temper tantrums when he did not get his way, and openly complained to his dad about mom's poor parenting skills. Mr. Smith who had been oblivious to his wife's emotional state sided with his son's concerns and grew increasingly critical of his wife's parenting. When he was home he would interfere when Ms. Smith tried to discipline Ben, which, after initial relief would worsen the situation. When Ben also began ignoring his father's disciplining attempts, Mr. Smith withdrew into his work, which left his wife resentful and helpless with their young son. At the same time Ben continued to excel at school with the support of a gifted education program and a supportive teacher who knew Ben's home situation quite well.

Ms. Smith was the oldest of three girls. Her mother, a school teacher, stayed home with the girls until the youngest was 4 years old and attended a pre-school. By that time Ms. Smith was in 4th grade. Her father was an accountant in a small local company, where he maintained his position throughout Ms. Smith's childhood and adolescence. Her mother had a drinking problem through which she masked and self-treated depressive tendencies while she stayed home and raised her three daughters. Ms. Smith remembered taking care of her younger sisters when she would come home from school finding her mother drunk and withdrawn in her bedroom. During her elementary school years Ms. Smith worked very hard to maintain her good stan

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