Topic 2 Vargas Family Case Study

Topic 2 Vargas Family Case Study


Review the Vargas Family Case Study located in the class resources. Write a 750-1,000-word paper in which you analyze how counselors apply psychoanalytic and cognitive-behavioral theories to analyze the presenting problem(s) and choose appropriate interventions.

Be sure to answer the following questions in your paper:

  • What are the two main presenting problems for the Vargas family? (a) How are the problems maintained? (b) How from the psychoanalytic perspective? (c) How from the cognitive-behavioral perspective?
  • What interventions would you plan to use in your next session? (a) From the psychoanalytic perspective (identify and describe your plan for one intervention) (b) From the cognitive-behavioral perspective (identify and describe your plan for one intervention)
  • What is the role of the counselor in the change process? (a) Include the role from the psychoanalytic perspective (b) Include the role from the cognitive-behavioral perspective

Include at least three scholarly sources (peer-reviewed journal articles, books, etc.).

 What are the two main presenting problems for the Vargas family?

Constant fights and heated arguments: Bob and Elizabeth differ over Frank’s behavior which Elizabeth considers irresponsible, uncaring, disrespectful, and impulsive. Also, Heidi confirms to the counselor that Bob and Elizabeth fight. Elizabeth confirms her frustration in the marriage, which makes her feel completely disregarded because whenever he informs Bob of Franks bad behavior, Bob does not share similar expectations of disciplining Frank.

Blame games and unjustified accusations: Mr. and Mrs. Vargas are clearly blaming and accusing each other instead of attempting to seek a solution into their family problems. When Elizabeth arrives with children for the second session, she looks frustrated and blames Bob’s lateness by saying it is “typical”. In the other side, Bob dismisses Elizabeth by defending Frank’s behavior stating that he is a normal boy; he even terms himself more consistent with time than Elizabeth.

How are the problems maintained?

From the psychoanalytic perspective: Using the psychoanalytic perspective, a counselor would effectively determine and understand the conscious, unconscious, and preconscious levels of the Vargas family members (Coughlin & Katzman, 2013). It is clear from the probing that Frank exhibits unconscious behavior, and his behavior is the main cause or problems into the family. Also, this perspective would help a counselor understand the personality traits of Bob and Elizabeth, and this would help establish immediate gratification into the presenting issues. Also, the psychoanalytic therapy would help the counselor understand the history of Bob and Elizabeth, to find out whether their current way of solving marriage issues is inherited.

From the cognitive-behavioral perspective: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) would be useful in helping the Vargas family understand the feelings and thoughts that influence their current behaviors (Hofmann & Vonk, 2012). In this case, CBT will largely be used in treating Frank’s anxiety and unusual behavior. Also, Elizabeth presents herself as a victim of trauma and depression, and this perspective would help treat this disorder. However, this approach will only be short-term and would focus on helping the Vargas family deal with the two presenting problems.

What interventions would you plan to use in your next session

From the psychoanalytic perspective

Free association: In the case, the counselor is equally applying the free association technique in probing the Vargas family. In the next session, the counselor should advance by asking members of Vargas family to talk whatever trickles into their mind. In the course of free association, fragments of repressed memories especially for Heidi and Frank will emerge (Coughlin & Katzman, 2013). However, Frank, Heidi, and their parents must cooperate to ensure that this intervention is useful and beneficial.

Inkblots: Inkblots will be suitable in the next session given the nature of blame-game and defense mechanism that the Vargas family has revealed in this session. In this approach, the counselor will be unclear and look overly ambitious in order to read the inner personality and levels of unconsciousness within the Vargas family that results to this strained family relationship (Logan, 2015). In the next session, the counselor will administer project tests in order to collect member’s information based on their unconscious mind to interpret the inkblot.

From the cognitive-behavioral perspective

Cognitive restructuring and reframing: This technique would help the Vargas family identify their thinking patterns responsible for ineffective family relationship and negative moods and feelings (Coughlin & Katzman, 2013). In this technique, the counselor will look into tracking the client’s dysfunctional thoughts on a thought record form and devising a healthier and more psychologically flexible pattern of thought.

Activity scheduling: In this session, Bob arrived late after Elizabeth and the children had arrived earlier. In the next session, I would embrace the activity scheduling technique to help the entire family increase healthy behaviors so that they can begin doing things together (Logan, 2015). I would identify the convenient helpful behaviors, such as going for a walk, meditating, and having the whole family work on the same project.

What is the role of the counselor in the change process?

From the psychoanalytic perspective: From the psychoanalytic perspective, the role of a counselor in change process is helping the Vargas family the sources of family disagreements, impulsive behavior, and the blame-game behavior (Coughlin & Katzman, 2013). Also, the counselor would treat Frank’s unconscious mind until he regains conscious mind to ensure that the family recovers happiness. The other role is probing the Vargas family to understand their past history and its connection to their unconscious minds.

From the cognitive-behavioral perspective: A CBT counselor has the role of listening, encouraging, and teaching all members of the Vargas family (Hofmann & Vonk, 2012). The other role is searching for the clients’ strengths and uses this information to help the Vargas family what to do to restore happiness. In addition, the CBT counselor seeks to get the presenting problems solved, and ensure that the family becomes collaborative and engages in active participation and building of the family together.


  • Coughlin, P., & Katzman, J. (2013). The role of therapist activity in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Pyschodynamic Pyschiatry, 40(3), 15-28.
  • Hofmann, S. G., & Vonk, I. J. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5), 27-40.
  • Logan, M. (2015). Parent-child relationship problems: Treatment tools for rectification counseling. Counseling Today, 34-97.

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