Every family needs to undergo psychological counseling once a year to live in love and happiness. Relatives’ relationships with one another might worsen and lead to unfortunate outcomes. The case study discussed below refers to the family consisting of four people (two parents, one child, and an adolescent) who have common misunderstandings lately due to the son’s age of puberty and the daughter’s weight obsession. The following paper is intended to analyze and resolve particular problems that are present in the Cooper family.
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The Presenting Problem
To describe an ongoing problem from the Cooper family’s perspective briefly, it would be proper to state that Matthew (forty-one years old) does not seem to be the head of the family as this role belongs to his wife, Susan Cooper (forty-two years old). Susan works every day to make the family’s living, whereas her husband runs his small graphics business from the house. However, Matthew is not satisfied with his position in the family hierarchy as he has to take care of children while they are at home.
Also, he does the biggest part of housework (cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, and so on). The problem stems from Savannah’s (sixteen years old), and Milton’s (nine years old) age-specific factors. The daughter undergoes an essential period in her life as she slowly becomes an adult (Vetere & Dowling, 2017). Therefore, the girl is very obsessed with her appearance. She does physical exercises every day and weighs herself on the scale to control her parameters.
In turn, Milton does not stick to a healthy diet and does not seem to be interested in the events going on in the family. Moreover, he does not even try to acquire good grades at his school. Instead, the boy prefers to bully his classmates. Milton had also destroyed his sister’s school project, which made her cry and cut her arm with scissors.
Theoretical Orientation to Find a Treatment Plan
It would be advantageous to implement psychodynamic theoretical orientation in this case as this method implies developing and analyzing various factors that a person lacks. Professionals who use this theory are intended to observe and study their clients’ cases as if they are made up of dynamics that become evident in the early childhood of patients and changes as a person becomes mature (James & Prout, 2015). As the primary problem of the family discussed above lays in Milton’s misbehavior and his father’s irresponsibility, this method seems to be the most efficient to conduct an effective treatment plan.
Underlying Problems and Potential Diagnoses
To assess the Cooper family’s case properly, it is necessary to describe some underlying problems and find possible psychiatric diagnoses contributing to the primary problem. Accurate results of this analysis will be helpful in conducting the forthcoming counseling process. However, an essential underlying issue of the Copper family is that the father (Matthew) does not have any authority over his children (James & Prout, 2015).
This issue should be addressed immediately as the head of the family should be respected by all of its members. Usually, men are supposed to make important decisions for their families because they are more confident and have more life experience (Lindsey, 2016). Nevertheless, Matthew does not seem to be the main person in this family. Perhaps, he is very discouraged with such a situation as it affects his emotional disturbance.
It is also essential to address Milton’s misbehavior in every aspect of his life during the counseling process. This boy’s attitudes towards his family members, classmates, friends, and neighbors are unacceptable. There is a possibility that the child lacks parents’ attention (Barkley, 2015). Therefore, he is being very rude to others and does not want to make his family members proud of their son. However, some other potential diagnoses that might be present in the previously discussed situation will be listed below:
- Anxiety disorder (Savannah Cooper feels that her peers and classmates might offend her because of her weight. Therefore, she tries to be as slim as possible to remain an attractive girl.)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (As it is mentioned above, Milton Cooper might be lacking his parents’ attention as they are busy with their jobs and housework.)
- Compulsive behavior (Due to the reasons described above, Milton Cooper might have compulsive behavior as he does not know how to apply his energy to various hobbies. Therefore, he prefers to annoy other people who surround him. Although he is still a child, a nine-year-old person should understand that his behavior is not acceptable in a civilized society.)
- Conduct disorder (This diagnosis also refers to Milton Cooper as this boy seems to be the major reason for other problems in the family. His sister was offended by the fact that her brother ruined an important school project, whereas parents could not find an appropriate method of coping with their youngest child’s behavior.)
- Dependent personality disorder (This problem concerns Matthew Cooper as he always relies on his wife (Susan Cooper.) She works long hours to make her family’s living, whereas Matthew does not want to take any responsibility for the family’s life. It is convenient for him to run a very small business online and to have a permanent excuse for doing all the housework.)
- Enemy complex (Perhaps, this is not the best explanation of Milton Cooper’s behavior. Nevertheless, the boy cannot understand that his family does not want to be at enmity with him. However, the child does not listen to his parents and does not take their pieces of advice seriously.)
- Gender dysphoria (This diagnosis might refer to Susan and Matthew Coopers as they switch their family roles. Usually, a woman is supposed to stay home and take care of children while her husband is at work.)
- Self-harm (Savannah purposely made bleeding wounds on her arm because she was upset with her brother. Usually, this psychiatric disorder does not imply suicidal attempts. Children resort to such actions to demonstrate their emotions and personal concerns.)
Identification of a Client
The main client whose behavior is necessary to address during the forthcoming treatment period is Milton Cooper. Although all other members of his family are responsible for their primary occupations (work, school, and so on), he refuses to study, clean his room, and become a good friend of his peers. Moreover, his sister, mother, and father are all perfectionists, but he holds the opposite opinion. However, other family members are involved in this situation as well because Savannah does not pay much attention to her little brother due to the weight obsession and other typical adolescent problems. Therefore, she can also be referred to as a client in this particular case.
Unique Needs of Each Individual in the Family
Every person has his or her individual needs and wants to have a separate space or room for some personal hobbies or certain things that other family members are not supposed to know about (Vetere & Dowling, 2017). The Cooper family is not an exception. For instance, Susan’s needs imply the husband’s support in everyday life as she gets exhausted after long shifts at her work. Moreover, her major need lies in having a rest from the routine she is obliged to face on a daily basis.
Matthew Cooper wants to be respected by other members of his family and to become self-dependent. At the present moment, the father cannot make his living without his wife as he does not earn enough money to support the family and to make important decisions. Savannah’s needs are normal for an average girl of her age. She wants to be attractive to the opposite gender at her school. Moreover, the girl’s classmates’ and friends’ opinions might influence her self-confidence. However, Milton’s needs are very hard to identify as he does not have any interests, hobbies, and concerns. Perhaps, he wants to be separated from other family members to play video games without his parents’ control.
Family’s Culture and Societal Expectations
The Cooper family’s culture lays in perfectionism as their house is always clean, and all the members (except Milton) are very good at what they do (job, school, housework, and so on.) Parents and Savannah hold healthy diets to remain active and productive every day, whereas Milton prefers to eat junk food, which has an adverse impact on his weight and lifestyle in general. Societal expectations from this family include Savannah’s successful career development because she demonstrates perfect results in everything that she does (school, hobbies, and physical exercises). Milton is expected to become an office clerk as his lifestyle and health condition might not allow him to be occupied with an active job.
As it was mentioned above, gender roles are not set appropriately in this family because Matthew has to gain his children’s respect and find a decent job or income source. It is not acceptable for a healthy man to rely on his wife (Vetere & Dowling, 2017). On the other hand, Susan Cooper seems to be a strong and confident woman who does not expect anyone else’s support. Therefore, the parents’ gender roles should be reconsidered in the nearest future to start living a balanced life with fewer stresses (Boss, Bryant, & Mancini, 2017).
It would be proper to mention that the gender roles discussed above contradict the majority of cultural norms in today’s society (Lindsey, 2016). However, the aforementioned issues contribute to the major problem of the family because its members set the wrong priorities in their lives and do not want to think about their future relationships with one another.
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Child and Adolescent Culture
Children always strive to experience various feelings and activities that are new to them (James & Prout, 2015). Therefore, Milton Cooper does not hesitate to neglect his parents’ directions and tries to be unique when arrives at his school. Almost every adolescent is concerned with one’s appearance, which makes Savannah obsessed with her weight and outfits. One of the most essential general factors that contribute to the issue identified above lays in the lack of parents’ attention (Barkley, 2015). Moreover, this factor has an adverse impact on the family’s dynamics because Coopers do not have genuine conversations with one another due to the major differences in the family members’ interests.
Interventions in Children’s and Parents’ Lives
An appropriate intervention in Milton’s (child) lifestyle implies introducing the boy to new hobbies that he can be occupied with on a daily basis (James & Prout, 2015). He might be interested in energy-consuming activities that will give him additional motivation and a sense of life. However, it is essential to explain to Savannah (adolescent) that other people do not pay much attention to her appearance. She has to change priorities in her life. Instead of doing physical exercises for losing weight, she has to focus on her health. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper also has some issues to fix in their relationship. For instance, Matthew has to become more confident and determined, whereas Susan needs to take fewer responsibilities for the family as this factor causes multiple stresses.
To justify the interventions above, Vetere and Dowling (2017) claim that children and adolescents have specific needs that their parents cannot understand, despite the fact that adults experience the same problems in their childhoods (James & Prout, 2015). Therefore, every family member must adhere to others’ wishes, priorities, needs, and goals. In the case analyzed before, it is essential to implement such preventative techniques as spending more time together to reduce the likelihood of a further crisis. For instance, the family can travel somewhere together or might go to a restaurant to have a long conversation and build mutual plans for the future.
The Cooper family is currently having particular difficulties in raising their children and identifying the parents’ gender roles. The child is antisocial, the adolescent is obsessed with her weight, whereas the mother works while the father does all the housework. It is essential for this family to spend more time together to overcome the challenging crisis that is present in their relationships at the moment.
Barkley, R. A. (2015). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York, NY: Guilford.
Boss, P., Bryant, C. M., & Mancini, J. A. (2017). Family stress management: A contextual approach. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.
James, A., & Prout, A. (2015). Constructing and reconstructing childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Lindsey, L. L. (2016). Gender roles: A sociological perspective. London, UK: Routledge.
Vetere, A., & Dowling, E. (Eds.). (2017). Narrative therapies with children and their families: A practitioner’s guide to concepts and approaches (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.