The Brice family consisted of a family unit of five. The father Davie a lawyer, the mother Caroline, their teenage daughter Claudia, the younger daughter Laura and younger son Don. The family was referred by a psychiatrist who had been seeing Claudia, but felt the whole family needed to be in therapy. The first session was a challenge, the family agreed to go in all together only for the initial session and they were not very comfortable to begin with.
The mother Caroline felt the problem that should be address was the issues their teen daughter was having and she did not believe the entire family should be there. Both the mother and daughter came in angry to the therapy session and there was a lot of tension in the room. The father was respectful and stated he was happy to be there, but his body language told the therapist he has not comfortable being there. The youngest daughter Laura seemed to be in a cheerful mood with high energy. The youngest son Don did not show up for the first session.
During the session there was an argument that broke out between mother and daughter, Carolyn seems to think they are in therapy to resolve the daughter’s issues that is affecting the entire family, but she does not feel the family as a unit has a problem. Both therapists agreed that it would not be ideal to start the family session without the youngest son Don who did not show up. David and Carolyn did not seem happy with this choice and felt the longer they waited for their daughter to get help the worst it would get.
Carl explain the dynamics of the family and how important it was to have Don at the initiation of the family session, and asked the family to think if they wanted to be a part of the family they are in, and if they did to call and set up a time for the next session with Don include. Dave did not hesitate and agreed to set up an appointment then and there; he looked over at his wife and asked he if she agreed. Carolyn agreed and towards the end of the session Carl connected with Laura the youngest daughter by engaging her in dialog and asking what she thought about everything that was going on in the family.
By doing this Carl was able to show the family how every member of the family has a valuable place in therapy, and it is not just about one person. Second Session
The second session with the Brice family was as intense as the first one. Don the younger brother did attend the second session. He came in with a sloppy walk. Don has long blond hair and dressed in body shirt jeans and sandals. He introduced himself to Carl and seemed confident. Once the family was settle and the session started the focus of the session would always seem to try and come back to Claudia. Both parents think that Claudia is the cause of the family dysfunction and their marriage is in trouble because of her. Carl did a great job by taking the focus away from Claudia and putting it back on both parents.
He was able to have them see that there were other issues that stemmed with them as a couple, and the structure of the family unit. David over working and not being a part of the family and Carolyn being over involved with her mother and her needs. Whitaker and Napier conceptualized the family’s difficulties as a whole problem. They did not see it stem form one family member.
They felt the family all had some issues as individuals and as a couple for the parents that were not address when they should have been. Because the issues were set aside they resurfaced and intensified along with Claudia’s changing attitude and miss behavior. This is one of the reasons both parents seem to focus on Claudia and identified her as the main cause of the family’s problems. When using individual understanding of a family’s problem each family member is seen separate.
The family is not taken in as a unit, but instead they work on the individual to be able to create harmony in the family. Each member issue are addressed individually and worked on without the rest of the family having a part.
When looked at as individual there is a targeted behavior the individual is seeing as the problem not the family unit as a whole. Carl used the systemic family approach with the Brice family, both therapist looked at the circular interaction of the family problem, the family role of each family member and how they fit in to contributing to the family dysfunction and made sure the entire family was present for the first intervention.
Both therapist looked for positive contributions to the social organization of the family that they could look back on to start working with the family as one unit and not focus on one member of the family to be the problem. One of the interventions came by the simple sitting arrangement the family had. The family in the beginning of the session unconsciously sat according to the family structure and how they felt it was. By having the therapist change the seating arrangements was a symbolic change and shift in the family structure to what it should be.
Systematic therapy seems to be the best time of therapy for the Brice family. In this paper I have talked about the first two sessions of the Brice family, I have included Whitaker’s and Napier’s conceptualization of the families difficulties and described ho this differs from individual understanding. I also talked about specific interventions used with the family.