Often times in life we take leaps of faith that we believe will last forever. Unfortunately, this reality does not provide us the happily ever after that the fairytales offers us. Because of the issues between adults, children are often times left as the casualties of adult’s affairs. A separation and/or is often times a traumatic situation for everyone involved and it affects all parties. Though the effects of this crisis on the members of the family might be different, no one walks away the same. This is unfortunate and this is where social workers and other mental health professionals’ step in and attempt to assist and provide some form of stability within the eye of the hurricane. During this intervention, social workers and other mental health professionals are then able to provide strategies and other resolutions to help assist the family, as well as skills that they are able to apply even after the duration of the therapy. During this particular paper we will go into detail about a specific family and evaluate their current crisis and provide an intervention, using the skills that we have obtained in our studies.
This particular case is centered around the Alcantar family. The Alcantar family is currently going through a crisis. Most recently there was a DV incident between Mrs. Alcantar (30 years old) and Mr. Alcantar (35 years old). Their two children Noemi (10 years old) and son Pablo (12 years old) was present during this altercation. The altercation occurred somewhere around the month of October, during which the children observed their father strike down their mother. There are also reports that it seemed that Mr. Alcantar was about to kick Mrs. Alcantar, however the children intervene and were able to stop their father. It was reported that this current separation is the third over the 13 years that the couple have been together. All of the prior separations over the years were because of DV issues.
As a result of the most recent situation, Mrs. Alcantar and Mr. Alcantar are now living separately. Mrs. Alcantar is currently renting a room from a friend with her children in Yonkers, NY, and Mr. Alcantar has moved in with a cousin in Connecticut. Mr. Alcantar currently have limited contact with the children and only calls them from time to time but has not came and visit the children since the split. The couple are now in the process of obtaining a no-fault divorce with Mrs. Alcantar expecting full custody of the children. Both parents work low-income jobs, with Mrs. Alcantar being a part-tine babysitter, student, and housekeeper, while Mr. Alcantar is a seasonal gardening and construction worker.
The greatest concern at this time and the purpose of the family seeking assist is the aftermath of the separation and the domestic violence. Noemi is currently dealing with depression and a slight phobia of school. Pablo is current behaving aggressively in school and getting involved in fights. The parents are currently in the process of obtaining services for DV, parenting, and divorce. All of which is causing a great deal of stress to the family.
After analyzing the case there are several intervention strategies that we would like to apply from schools of family therapy. The first one that we would like to apply would be “Transgenerational Therapy”. According to “The Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy, Transgenerational Therapy “provide a powerful, nonhierarchical approach to framing and voicing problems, and understanding and working with couples in distress. 2. TG therapy moves beyond immediate symptom reduction to increase marital resilience and prevent future symptoms through the facilitation and development of intimacy, mutual problem solving, and satisfaction in couples” (Roberto-Forman, L. (2008). We believe that this particular form of therapy will help to get to the root of the family DV issues and correct them.
Another application from the school of family therapy that would be applied in this case would be “Systemic Therapy”. According to “My Online Therapy”, Systemic Therapy “seeks to identify deep-rooted patterns within an individual’s relationships and with family members. This helps to uncover how members communicate and behave within a system, based on beliefs about their respective roles. This approach also assumes that a person’s emotional problems arise from difficulties in their relationships with others inside and outside the family” ( https://myonlinetherapy.com/therapies/systemic-therapy/). This form of therapy will help the members of the family to better understand each other and how to better work together towards a common goal.
The final therapeutic principles that we would apply is “Reality Therapy”. According to “Psychology Today”, Reality Therapy is a “client-centered form of cognitive behavioralpsychotherapy that focuses on improving present relationships and circumstances, while avoiding discussion of past events. This approach is based on the idea that our most important need is to be loved, to feel that we belong, and that all other basic needs can be satisfied only by building strong connections with others. Reality therapy teaches that while we cannot control how we feel, we can control how we think and behave” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/reality-therapy). This would be something that we would apply towards the end of the journey, only because it deals with the now and it would be applied to adjust the current behaviors of the family, specifically Mr. Alcantar and Pablo.
Based upon the facts provided in this case, we could theoretically formulate the conclusion of which that majority of the conflict in the family is a direct result of the DV issues in the home. We know that there is an extensive history of DV in the home, and as a result, Mrs. Alcantar has left the home several times within the 13 years that she has been married. There is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a factor in the abuse or was being abused by anyone in the family. There was also no mention of a third party, or any marital affairs that were occurring in the home. Perhaps there could have been tension in the home due to economically reasons. We were told that Mr. Alcantar was a season worker doing minimal jobs such as gardening and constructions. Mrs. Alcantar is currently living off of her student loans, her money earned as a part-time babysitter and housekeeper. The only thing that separates them is the fact that Mrs. Alcantar is currently attending Westchester Community College in hopes of bettering herself. We are not entirely sure if her attending school made her husband feel inferior or not.
Because of the continued DV issues between the parents, and actually witnessing the traumatic events, the children have developed a level of trauma that is manifesting in behavioral issues. Both Noemi and Pablo are gifted children academically, however they are now dealing with psychological issues. Both children are currently receiving treatment from school social workers and local agencies in the area. Noemi is currently experiencing school phobia, depression, anxiety, stomach aches, and constantly crying in school, while missing classes. Pablo is currently displaying aggressive behavior by fighting with other boys at school and has dropped out of sports and has had a decrease in his grades. All of which is a result of their parents’ separation, the DV witnessed, and their current lack of communication and contact with their father.
When reviewing the relational structure of this particular family, we must take culture into account. The family are Mexican American immigrants. The children were born I the US, however the parents were born in Mexico. Therefore, we must take their Mexican culture and values into play when working with this family. Perhaps the family is very traditional and might not believe in divorce, even if the social workers believe that would be the best outcome. We must also take in the fact that traditional people usually have their own way of conducting themselves, that might be different from how people in the US conduct themselves. Mr. Alcantar might feel that he is the supreme leader of the home and therefore was able to do whatever it is that he wanted in the home. Therefore, it is important to see how the family use to interact with one another.
We do not know too much of the family’shistory, but we do know that there is an extensive history of DV, which resulted in Mrs. Alcantar separating herself from Mr. Alcantar a total of 3 times in 13 years. We are not sure if the children witnessed every bit of the DV in the home, but we do know that the children were present during the last incident. Perhaps Mr. Alcantar grew up in a home where he saw DV as a regular thing, he would then grow up and behave as if that was a regular thing. This would cause him to continue the pattern and continue to do the same to his wife. Perhaps Mrs. Alcantar grew up in a home where she saw that as normal and so she continued to stay in an environment where she saw her husband’s actions as normal. The children growing up in the home became accustomed to it, as traumatic as it was. The constant trauma in the home is probably what resulted in the behavioral and mental issues with the children.
There are several treatment goals that we would like to apply in this case. The first would be to address the DV situation. We would provide counseling for the parents, particular Communication Therapy as well as Reality Therapy. This would be to help the parents realize in what aspects were they wrong and where they could do better, particularly Mr. Alcantar. We would address his behavior and have him adjust them so that he could be in the lives of his children and bring some form of stability to them. We would apply CBT skills when working with the two children. Due to trauma, they have developed negative traits and behaviors and therefore we would try to correct them. We would also attempt to provide the parents with parenting counseling as well as divorce information and resources if that is their final decision. The children would be provided with continued support and be provided with additional mental health services if needed. There seem to be an overcrowding issue in the home, and so we would attempt to help them obtain suitable housing. Perhaps refer Mrs. Alcantar to a DV shelter so that she could obtain a housing voucher to obtain a bigger place for the children. We would also like to work on the father’s behavior so that perhaps we can have some form of family reunification in the future.
When it comes to specific intervention strategies based on the theories chosen, we would the following:
- Reality Therapy- Would be used in the correction of the behavior of Mr. Alcantar, Pablo, and Noemi. This form of therapy would help them to recognize their behavior and adjust it for the greater good. We would also attempt to repair the 5 basic need theory that is found within Reality Therapy which includes power, love, freedom, fun, and survival.
- Transgenerational Therapy- This would be applied to the entire family to uncover how patterns in behavior have affected the relationships of the family members and their interactions with one another. This will help with Mr. Alcantar and help him to realize that him abusing his wife is affecting all members of the family.
- Systemic Therapy- Will help the family to understand their roles in the household but also help each family member to express themselves to on another and express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Though it would appear grim for the Alcantar family, we can still have strength as a family, one positive thing that we could say about them is that they are very resilient. They have gone through many traumas, and we still surviving. During the time of 13 years, the family split and still came back together prior to the last time. This shows that they have a level of forgiving, though things have gotten a bit out of hand to say the least. We can say that the family are a family of hard workers, whether is be physical labor or education. We see that both of the children were in schools for the gifted, and the parents worked multiple jobs. Mrs. Alcantar in particular was raising a family, in an abusive relationship, in school studying education at her community college, and working as a babysitter and housekeeper. Some would say that they were living their version of the American Dream. They were able to come to American from Mexico and support their family and raise their children.
Mrs. Alcantar in particular shows the highest level of resilience amongst the family. After Mr. Alcantar left for Connecticut, she was left alone with the children. She was able to scrape some dollars together and get herself a room in her friend’s apartment. We also know that Mr. Alcantar has not seen the children since he has left and has only called them a few times. There is also no talks of any financial support.
Our biggest concern would be the children. Given their age and their lack of stability, it is possible that their lives will be hard going forward. Pablo behavior issues is a direct link to the lack of the presence of his father in the home and his anger towards his father for abusing his mother. To this point we are still under share of Mr. Alcantar’s motive for abusing his wife. Noemi who is younger is perhaps even more affected by this situation. Perhaps this is the reason for her phobia of school, and that she does not want to be around a large group of people at this time. One child is expressing their pain in angry, the other is expressing their pain in tears, both are experiencing trauma. We know that trauma unresolve and cause serious mental issues.
In regard to the Alcantar family’s ecological standpoint, we can conclude that they do not have the best financial positioning. Both Mr. and Mrs. Alcantar were not working for fortune 500 companies and Mr. Alcantar was recently working on her associate’s degree. They worked simple part time and seasonal jobs. Once that family was divided, things became even more tight, in regarding to the budget and money coming into the home. When the case concludes we see that Mrs. Alcantar is now living in a room for with two children, and her husband is now living with his cousin in another state.
One positive thing we can say in regards to their ecological standpoint is regardless of their income, their children were still able to receive good education and attend good schools. Another positive point would be their ability to connect to services. In a time of need, they were able to obtain services for themselves and their children. They were eligible for services based on the qualifications that they were able to meet.
The family might face several diversity issues, particularly in the system because of their race and financial status. The fact is of Mexican decent and they are poor. Many Americans currently are not too fond of Mexicans and signed with people like Trump to build walls to keep them out of the country. Even though the Alcantar family are of legal immigrant status, they might not be treated that way by everyone. Many people often times discriminate against you because you are different from them. Currently in America, immigrants are the scapegoats. People often times look down on you because you are poor as well. Therefore, in the social class of things they might be faced with some issues.
One of the things that we could advocate on the behalf of the family that would improve their lives would be for housing. When housing is referred, we are talking about adequate housing that would be sufficient for Mrs. Alcantar and her two children. She is currently living in a room in someone else’s apartment with two young children. We believe that she is entitled to better housing options, particularly as a DV victim. We believe that the children should be provided with adequate mental health services as well.
Another point that we should address if the family does decide to divorce, then they should be provided with the necessary legal services. Certain legal services tend to be expensive and if you are on a fixed income then it becomes hard to afford such services. Therefore, is would be very beneficial to the family if they were provided with resources that connected them with legal services for the low-income individuals and families. If we were also able to help Mrs. Alcantar to obtain some scholarships for college, that would benefit the family a great deal as well.
Similar to the client, I too was an immigrant and I personal dealt with what came with that. That including having to deal with society and the pressures that are doubled on you for being a foreigner. I myself grew up in poverty and came from a poor country to America in search of a better life with my family. I as well have two siblings that were born in America. I, as well as many of the children in this world witnessed some form of DV in the home. Many of us have intercrossing stories and we often times could see ourselves or parts of our story in other people. That’s unfortunately part of being human.
In regard to counter-transference, Mr. Alcantar could attempt to sway me to his side. There are times when therapist find themselves siding with one party during couple of family therapy. Mrs. Alcantar could feel that I do not understand where she is coming from and attempt to say that I am siding with her husband. Having this at hand, it would be best to make the client feel that I am here to assist all parties and will be fair to everyone, while protecting the victims and trying to work for the better future of the children.
In regard to ethical dilemmas, I do not believe that there would be reason for there to be one. We are currently working with children that are experiencing emotional and behavioral problems in schools. This is a direct result of the DV issues in the home, involving the mother and the father. The father is now currently out of state and we are attempting to help the mother with her divorce, obtain housing, and caring for her two children. In order to do that, we will obey by all rules and regulations of the state and country. We will also obey by the social work code of ethics so that no mishaps occur. If we do all that is needed, we will be able to successful assist this family.
- Roberto-Forman, L. (2008). Transgenerational couple therapy. In A. S. Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (p. 196–226). The Guilford Press.
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