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School Counseling Case Conceptualization Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 25th, 2021

Present Issues

One can identify a number of personal, academic, and career issues in the case of Janeen. First of all, Janeen’s personal and social problems can significantly affect her future career. The student’s gender identity can be defined as the central problem that may influence other aspects of Janeen’s life. Moreover, her social life is affected as well, as she reports being bullied because of her clothing and appearance. It is necessary to understand that the student’s issue with gender identity and presentation should be discussed with Janeen in more detail. The student may be transgender. According to Ratts and Pedersen (2014), the discrimination of transgender youth in schools can lead to transgender students facing issues in their studies and future career. Moreover, the emotional state of the student is also impacted by this situation. Janeen is clearly distressed by this problem. Her heritage may also define the student’s identity. Janeen is African-American, which can influence her outlook on life. However, the student does not express much anxiety about this particular aspect.

Currently, the issues of the student also affect her school work. The student regularly skips school and does not perform as well as she used to. It is an academic issue that may be further exacerbated by the student’s parents, who put additional pressure on Janeen’s academic performance. Moreover, the decision of the parents to transfer Janeen to another state may also contribute to her studies becoming worse than before. The detachment from a familiar environment may have various effects on the student’s mental health.

Finally, Janeen’s career issues are linked to the problems described above. It is possible that the student may not be able to attend a university if Janeen does not improve her academic performance. Moreover, she may experience discrimination in the future workplace, which is a frequent issue for many transgender individuals (Berman, 2014). Furthermore, Janeen is African American, which also affects the student’s career opportunities.

Family Issues

The student’s family puts psychological pressure on the student and creates some additional complications. The student’s academic performance is valued by the family that wants Janeen to study harder. The ultimatum that the parents of the student present to Janeen may further affect her mental health. The process of transferring Janeen to another school may be followed by a number of possible issues. Firstly, the detachment from the family may negatively impact the relationship between the student and her parents. Secondly, the lack of support from a familiar environment may lead to Janeen experiencing stress. The issue of a boarding school enforcing some additional restrictions for its students may also put Janeen in a challenging position. The student is afraid of her parents disowning her, which may show that Janeen has a rather strong bond with her family. While the change of environments may positively affect the student’s school situation, it is uncertain whether Janeen can face bullying in a new school as well.

Janeen is scared to tell her parents about her gender identity concerns as she does not want her parents to abandon her. This fear possibly stems from her father being religious and active in the church. This personal issue of the student also affects the whole family. According to Capuzzi and Stauffer (2016), spirituality can play an important role in the lives of African-American clients, along with their family dynamics and systems. Moreover, religious concerns often clash with gender nonconformity, which may further complicate the family relationship. Therefore, it is necessary to address the aspect of religion in the family and assess the student’s views on spirituality.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors connected to the student’s case. Ratts and Pedersen (2014) state that people from minority groups facing discrimination on the basis of their cultural, socioeconomic, or visual differences often experience issues with their mental health and well-being. For instance, the personal issue of gender identity may lead to Janeen developing mental health problems such as depression or substance abuse. Thus, it is vital to assess this situation and prevent Janeen from engaging in risky behaviors. Moreover, the higher rate of suicidality among transgender individuals also puts Janeen’s life at risk (Riggs & Bartholomaeus, 2015). This particular risk factor is further aggravated by bullying that the student experiences in school.

Janeen’s decision to dress in masculine clothes at school may lead to more aggressive behaviors from the student’s peers, and it also puts Janeen at risk. Bullying is a serious issue that may result in the student experiencing both mental and physical health problems. As Johnstone and Dallos (2013) point out, bullying may create a history of trauma, which in turn can contribute to an individual developing various conditions. This risk factor may also be worsened by some racial implications of the bullies. It is unclear whether the student faces some level of discrimination based on her race. However, this aspect should not be overlooked. The bullying may be addressed at the school level if it is significantly harming the student’s well-being.

The family’s attitude towards Janeen’s education is a risk factor as well. The possible reaction of the student’s parents to her gender concerns is unknown. However, Janeen’s fear of telling her parents further contributes to her stress levels. Furthermore, the decision of the parents to pressure Janeen into studying by issuing an ultimatum may lead to Janeen experiencing even more pressure.

The case of Janeen has some legal and ethical implications. Janeen is underage, which limits the possibility of the student retaining full confidentiality of her counseling. While Janeen owns the moral rights to keep the information private, her parents may have the legal rights to address the discussed information (Berman, 2014). However, the parents should be informed about the confidentiality of these sessions. Janeen’s parents do not know about the student’s gender-related issues, and it is the counselor’s responsibility to talk with the student about the possibility of sharing this information with other people. However, the counselor cannot disclose the details of this case to other individuals, as it can breach the confidentiality of it. Privacy is the cornerstone of any counseling practice. Some ethical considerations may also include the condition of the patient. If the student expresses any thoughts about engaging in dangerous behaviors, it is possible to inform the parents about it. The counselor’s duty to warn limits the patient’s confidentiality.

The counselor is also required to treat all clients regardless of their cultural differences. Therefore, the ethical issue of diversity implies that one cannot refrain from treating students that have a different cultural background. While the lack of knowledge about one’s issue may pose some difficulties in creating a treatment, one should apply all existing knowledge and give the client the best care possible. Therefore, the student’s gender and racial characteristics should be discussed.

Therapeutic Relationship and Biases

Some possible biases of the counselor, in this case, may include one’s religious beliefs, gender, race, and occupation. It is necessary to keep in mind such considerations as the student’s race, age, and gender. Cultural differences should be taken into account and assessed with caution. One should not base his or her assumptions on these characteristics of the student and stay unbiased. For instance, the supposed connection of race to some mental health issues should be evaluated thoroughly (Johnstone & Dallos, 2013). However, addressing possible unique characteristics of the student’s family structure is necessary to understand the scope of the present issue fully. Therefore, the counselor should keep in mind the cultural background of Janeen while refraining from making discriminatory claims and suggestions. Moreover, the client is young, which may also complicate the dialogue between her and the counselor.

The gender of the student is also a complex issue that should be examined further. The establishment of a therapeutic relationship is impossible without a level of trust from the student (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016). Therefore, one should consider including the discussion of these concerns in the dialogue with the student. The issue of spirituality should be addressed as well. While the counselor and the student may not share the same views on some aspects, it is the former’s job to maintain professionalism and refrain from imposing his or her views on the latter. Therefore, while it is vital to discuss these concepts with the student, it is also necessary not to criticize the other person’s opinions. Moreover, any racial bias should be eliminated in order to provide the best treatment. The ability of the counselor to avoid making biased conclusions should encourage the student to participate in the consultation and respond more positively to the proposed intervention.

Possible Interventions

One can suggest a number of possible interventions for the student’s case. First of all, a consultation with Janeen’s parents is essential to the well-being of the student. It is vital to assess the parents’ relationship with Janeen and learn about their views on gender and transgender individuals. Furthermore, some advice should be given about the possible ways of dealing with underperforming children. According to Capuzzi and Stauffer (2016), family-based therapy may strengthen the relationship between the student and the parents and create a more neutral foundation for discussion. The issue of gender may be discussed with the student’s approval. Therefore, this type of intervention can mitigate the outcomes of Janeen talking to her parents and relieve her fear of abandonment. It is important to remember that the student’s parents do not have any apparent knowledge about their child’s existing concerns. Thus, their education is necessary in order to create a more comfortable environment for the client.

Collaboration with teachers and school staff may improve the issue of bullying. According to Marx, Roberts, and Nixon (2017), gender nonconforming students often face bullying from their peers, which may need to be addressed at the school level. Here, the support of the counselor can play a crucial role in the student’s well-being. Therefore, some instructions about treating Janeen’s concerns may be implemented. It is possible to ask Janeen about her time at school and infer about the positive and negative experiences. Following that, one can create a narrative that Janeen would support. For instance, Janeen may express the need to change personal pronouns. The consultation of parents may involve the discussion of these scenarios. The case of Janeen needs attention from the student, the parents, and the school in order to deal with all the presented issues.

References

Berman, P. S. (2014). Case conceptualization and treatment planning: Integrating theory with clinical practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Sage Publications.

Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (Eds.). (2016). Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions (6th ed.). Alexandria, VA: John Wiley & Sons.

Johnstone, L., & Dallos, R. (Eds.). (2013). Formulation in psychology and psychotherapy: Making sense of people’s problems (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Marx, R. A., Roberts, L. M., & Nixon, C. T. (2017). When care and concern are not enough: School personnel’s development as allies for trans and gender nonconforming students. Social Sciences, 6(1), 11.

Ratts, M. J., & Pedersen, P. B. (2014). Counseling for multiculturalism and social justice: Integration, theory, and application (4th ed.). Alexandria, VA: John Wiley & Sons.

Riggs, D. W., & Bartholomaeus, C. (2015). The role of school counsellors and psychologists in supporting transgender people. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 32(2), 158-170.

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