Vargas Case Study: Session 4
Review the Vargas Family Case Study located in the class resources. Write a 750-1,000-word paper in which you demonstrate how counselors apply structural family counseling theory to analyze the presenting problems and choose appropriate interventions.
Be sure to answer the following questions in your paper:
- What are two current presenting problems for the Vargas family?
- How are the problems maintained according to the structural family therapy perspective?
- What structural interventions would you plan to use in your next session? (identify and describe your plan for two interventions)
- What is the role of the counselor in the change process according to the structural family therapy perspective?
Cite at least three academic sources (peer-reviewed journal articles, books, etc.).
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.
This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
Vargas Case Study: Session 4
The Vargas family arrives for the fourth session at separate times. You have been chatting with Elizabeth and Heidi about Frank’s recent school suspension when Bob and Frank enter. They are having an animated conversation, laughing hysterically, and Heidi comments on how Frank is wearing socks, not the rain boots he left the house in. Bob and Frank proceed to share the story about how Frank’s top scoop of ice cream just fell into his boot when Elizabeth interrupts. She questions Bob and appears surprised to learn that instead of going to work with Bob who had agreed to “put him to work” as a consequence of his suspension, the two of them had spent the day having fun. Frank talks about his new bike and had begun a story about the movie they saw when he looks at his dad and instantly stops talking. You notice Bob’s stern look when Frank apologizes stating, “I forgot I’m not supposed to tell.”
The tense silence is broken by Heidi who begins to tell her parents that she got another gold star on her spelling test, the teacher picked her to be the helper, she scored two soccer goals at recess, and made three new friends. You notice that Frank has squeezed into the same chair next to Bob; Heidi scoots closer to her mother on the couch. You note Elizabeth’s distress and invite Bob to comment. Bob minimizes the incident that resulted in Frank’s suspension and accuses Elizabeth of “overreacting.” Frank agrees that “Mom always gets mad” and begins recounting the “funny” incident that was, according to him and Bob, “no big deal.”
What are two current presenting problems for the Vargas family?
The two current problems presenting for the Vargas family include:
- Increase in marital tension: Recently, there have been increased marital tensions between Bob and Elizabeth. The two admit to having several arguments a week, some in the presence of their children. Frank’s impulsive behavior is the major cause of this marital rift.
- Blame and accusation behavior: Bob accuses Elizabeth of “overreacting”, being “too high-strung” and inability to relax. Elizabeth blames Bob of defending Frank’s impulsive behavior; and this is why she is unable to relax when Frank is damaging things or hurting Heidi.
How are the problems maintained according to the structural family therapy perspective?
According to (Horne, 2020), structural family therapy treats patterns of interaction that cause problems within a family. The two main problems presenting in the Vargas family as explained above are increased marital tension and the blame game behavior. In this reference, the structural family therapy may be used in various ways.
As per Elizabeth, Frank might have ADHD. This is because Frank does not listen, cannot sit still, is forgetful, always gets hurt, and damages things. Frank’s impulsive behavior remains the major cause of disagreements between Bob and Elizabeth. In structural family therapy, Franks impulsive and ADHD behaviors will be considered the causes of the dysfunctional family (John, 2017). Thus, a counselor will use structural family therapy to change the family structure instead of changing individual family members. Using this approach, communication and interactions amongst the Vargas family members will be improved. A counselor will highlight the appropriate boundaries for the family members and thus help create a healthier family structure.
According to (Horne, 2020), structural family fits where families and children are at risk, and where the family structure is unhealthy. In order to help frank control his impulsive behavior, a counselor will use this approach by enrolling Frank into a child welfare group. Also, the counselor will have to create room where Bob, Elizabeth, Heidi, and Frank interact in order to observe their interactions. In this doing, structural family therapy will help identify the boundaries, hierarchy, and relationships between Bob and Elizabeth, or relationships between Elizabeth and Frank. This will help the counselor see where changes are needed and what interventions are required to restructure and restore the Vargas family.
What structural interventions would you plan to use in your next session? (Identify and describe your plan for two interventions)
Observation: In the next counseling session, I want to observe how the Vargas family interacts. I plan to draw a chart of the Vargas’ family structure. In this chart, I will identify the boundaries, hierarchy, subsystems, or sub-relationships within the Vargas family unit (Jorge, 2015). As per the case, I would observe the relationship between Bob and Elizabeth especially when Frank is not listening when Elizabeth is sending him. Also, since it is clear from the case that Elizabeth has major issues with Frank’s impulsive behavior, I would observe her relationship with Bob (John, 2017). This will help me see where the family needs a change and the type of interventions needed to help restructure the Vargas family.
Role-play: The second structural intervention I would use is asking the Vargas family members to role-play a problematic situation, for example, have Bob and Elizabeth argue in front of their children Frank and Heidi. I plan to at times, appear to be “taking sides” to assist disrupt the unhealthy pattern existing within the family’s sub-system and alter the dynamic of the Vargas family relationship (John, 2017).
What is the role of the counselor in the change process according to the structural family therapy perspective?
As per the case, the Vargas family is dysfunctional. The goals of this therapy are to create healthy relationship and restore the family’s functionality (Jorge, 2015). In the change process, the counselor will play the following roles:
- Working to uncover any existing habitual patterns, behaviors, and routines that are negatively impacting the family dynamics
- Seeking to establish healthier patterns and routines within the Vargas family structure so as to create a dynamic, supportive, loving, and stable home life for every family member.
- Encouraging the Vargas family to communicate in a safe environment and helping the family develop more helpful language rather than resorting to blames, accusations, and shouting to one another.
- Horne, C. (2020, February 4). What Is Structural Family Therapy (SFT)? Family Therapy, 2-4.
- John, S. R. (2017). Structural and Strategic Family Therapy Comparison. Pyschological Studies, 1-7.
- Jorge, C. (2015). Structural family therapy. Handbook of Family Therapy, 134-174.