Apply the family systems concepts you have learned from the readings, lectures, videos, etc. to analyze the case as summarized below by addressing the following questions:
1) State clearly and succinctly the presenting problem(s) of this family, that is, what caused them to come in for help or being referred for help by others. Do you see other issues as well?
2) What is your assessment of the relational structures and dynamics of the family (including boundaries, subsystems, power and hierarchy, triangulations, function of symptoms, communication patterns, family rules, etc., where applicable)?
3) What are some of the ways in which the family is handling their problems or relating to each other that have reinforced or exacerbated the problems (related to the concept of circular causality or mutual reinforcement)?
4) What do you see are the strengths of this family?
5) What is your assessment of the ecological resources (from the larger systems beyond the nuclear
family) and limitations for this family?
6) How would you define the specific treatment goals for this family which address both the
presenting and your assessed problems?
7) Suggest two intervention strategies and directions in working with this family to attain those
goals which could be at the level of the subsystems, family systems or the larger ecological context.
1. Use double line spacing and font size 12 in your answers.
2. Limit your answers 5-6 pages.
3. Apply the concepts you have learned directly in analyzing the case by simply stating them.
Do not give explanations of these theoretical concepts from the readings.
4. Give evidences from the case material in support of your assessment of the family dynamics
and structures. However, do not repeat some of background information provided in the
5. The intervention strategies should be specific, and family systems oriented instead of
6. The format of your paper as an essay or in point form is entirely up to you, as long as it is clear, and grammatical [in complete sentences].
7. Completed paper should be uploaded to the website by 2 days before live session of Week 4 before midnight. Late papers will affect the grade. If there is a special reason for delay, you should notify the instructor for consideration at least a day before the deadline.
Criteria for Evaluating the Midterm:
1) The answer addresses each part of the questions and demonstrates understanding of the
2) The response shows familiarity with materials covered in reading, lecture, video, discussion,
3) The answer demonstrates efforts to integrate the learned concepts with the case
4) The writing is grammatically correct and organized in a clear and logical fashion.
5) The APA style of referencing is used if brief citation is given.
6) Compliance with the page limit and format.
The “Rizzo” family, consisting of father Antonio (53), mother Anna (50), daughter Sophia (22), and son Marco (18). The family came in for family therapy after Marco dropped out of his first semester at a community college. As a high school student, Marco had attended your agency, a community-based organization located in the neighborhood for teen service programs, including college and SAT preparation. Staff at the agency was surprised to learn that Marco had dropped out of college, despite earning a 3.0 GPA. During an individual counseling session, Marco revealed to you, his individual counselor, that he had dropped out after receiving pressure from his family to work in the family business, a successful pizzeria and Italian restaurant that his father had started over 25 years ago. Antonio, an Italian immigrant who came to the United States at age 13, felt that it was important that the business remained owned and operated by a member of his family. Antonio’s three brothers, also pizzeria owners, all had sons who had taken over the business; he felt that as his only son, it was Marco’s “duty and responsibility to the family” to run the business.
Marco had worked in the pizzeria on weekends and after school since he was 14 years old. He continued to work in the pizzeria during college, but often times, it conflicted with his studies or social events on campus, but he felt that he could not say no to his father. Marco felt significant guilt and pressure from his family to work in the pizzeria rather than focus on college, where he was considering majoring in business. He felt if he did not agree to run the business, he was disrespecting and dishonoring the family. He had tried expressing his concerns to his parents, but he felt they did not understand his desire to attend college. They often argued, and Marco felt that the conversations he had with his parents were “pointless” and that they “would never understand
him”. Neither parents attended college, nor placed a high value on education. His mother wanted to see Marco pursue a career he was passionate about, but would not go against her husband’s word, since he made all the important decisions in the family. According to Marco, as soon as he mentioned to his father that he did not want to take over the pizzeria, Antonio would get angry and state that he couldn’t understand why Marco would pass up such a prosperous opportunity and want to force his father to sell the pizzeria to someone outside of the family. Anna would initially try to diffuse the argument, but her husband would then yell at her, claiming it “didn’t involve her” and “wasn’t her decision.”
Sophia had never worked in the pizzeria, and had left home at 18 to attend college in another state. Since Sophia was away at college it may be difficult for her to attend the family sessions. As stated by Marco, Sophia was angry at her parents for pressuring Marco to work in the pizzeria, and felt that he was not strong enough to take a stand against them. Sophia was encouraging Marco to break away from the family and make his own decisions.
After Marco had decided to drop off college he became rather depressed and agitated. Seeing that his decision was largely impacted by his family situation, you, as the counselor decided that it would be beneficial to have his family join the counseling sessions, in order to better understand the relationships and circumstances that were influencing his decision, and they agreed to come in.
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