As a counselor one constantly strives to help clients become successful members of society. In order to become successful in society one must be mentally healthy, there are clients that are so unhealthy mentally and that have struggled so much throughout their childhood and through adolescents that as a counselor you work and push that much harder to help your client overcome those obstacles. In some cases ones counseling can prevent a negative life and provide for a safer society.
This case depicts a client that falls under those circumstances. As a client, John Wayne Gacy will be introduced to Family Therapy to help him understand his family environment and help him to cope and or change the way he feels about his family life. The counseling plan will deal with John Wayne Gacy’s issues of his father being an alcoholic, his father abusing him and the rest of his family, him liking boys, as well as his anti-social ways at school. These will be addressed by looking at creating a genogram. When looking at the research it is favorable to use family therapy in order to facilitate change within the family environment by looking at problem solving abilities, looking at the positive rather than the negative, and accepting family members. Case Study
My client is John Wayne Gacy, a 15 year old boy living in Chicago, Illinois. He is a white male and has been referred by a judge to undergo a psych evaluation, after his psych evaluation he began coming to see me. This is Gacy’s first time seeking help from a licensed counselor. Presenting Problems
John’s presenting problems are his father is an abusive alcoholic, John is attracted to boys, and John is anti-social at school. These three things lead to much confusion in John’s life which led to him hearing voices. John wants to see if family therapy could change some of his issues and feels that by going to family therapy his home environment might change into a more supportive one. Family Background and Developmental History
John Wayne Gacy, the son of Marion Elaine Robinson Gacy and John Wayne Gacy
Sr. was born on March 17th 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were of Polish and Danish heritage (Bell). John was the middle child of three; he had an older sister Joanne and a younger sister Karen. John and his sisters were brought up Catholic and went to catholic school. The environment in which he was raised in was that of middle class, he had a part-time job after school and was involved with the boy scouts.
John and his two sisters were raised by a father that was an alcoholic; he abused them and their mother. John was not popular in school and was often left out of the loop. John had a playground incident at age 11 which led to him having a blood clot and the clot caused him to have blackouts (Bell & Bardsley). He could not play with the other kids because he had a heart condition which was another reason he was looked down upon by his father; he saw it as another shortcoming. John also discovered that he liked boys and often struggled with dealing with his sexuality (Bell). John’s father in a way resented him for this. He felt that it was a sign of weakness or another fault that John had. Current Living and Work Environment
John is involved in many organizations within the community. He is a hard worker that often suffered from exhaustion and anxiety from the pressure he put on himself to succeed. John was a father and husband; and had a house in the suburbs. All of this came to a screeching halt when rumors of Gacy liking boys surfaced. Multiple charges and even a prison sentence were handed down to Gacy for the assault of a young boy. Physical Appearance, Mood, and Demeanor
John was overweight and had heart and back problems; however, it did not stop him from his work or community activities. Gacy was sentenced to ten years in prison for assaulting a young boy. Gacy was in denial saying that the young boy willingly participated in the sexual acts in order to make extra money. He also did not take responsibility for his actions and tried to place blame on others. Gacy’s has an anti-social personality but is mentally competent. When he was in prison he followed rules and was not violent. Gacy took on different personalities as well as went through many different moods (Inside John Wayne Gacy’s Mind). Counseling Plan
This counseling plan uses Family Therapy. “Families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system.”(Genopro) Basically family members feed off each other, positivity feeds positivity and vice versa. The best way to put together a treatment plan is to build your family genogram. Study your own behavior patterns and how they fit in with the rest of your family throughout generations. This will bring out options in which could be used in order to solve problems and figure out how one fits into the family and what ones role is within the family (Genopro). The genogram structure of family therapy will allow John and me to create a counseling plan very easily. Conceptualization of Client’s Presenting Problem and Developmental History
John shows signs of multiple personality disorder as well as having an anti-social personality. John also hears voices. Family Therapy eludes to the fact that Family development and the environment that he was brought up in, along with family makeup could be a contributor to why John suffers from what he does (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). Family patterns or expectations are looked at in many ways from parental beliefs, personalities, and extended family influence. This allows each family to be unique in their own ways. This uniqueness can be very overwhelming and takes a toll on all members whether it is negative or positive (Pope).
For example, John’s father puts a lot of pressure on him to be successful. John’s shortcomings were looked down upon by his father most likely do to the beliefs and personality that he formed based upon his parental upbringing. John admits that his father was abusive to his mom, sisters, and him as well. John took on many personalities and even called himself pogo the clown at times. John was attracted to boys and this is something that has haunted him his whole life and the reason he is in the predicament he is in. He hated being a disappointment to his father and he was always looking to please his father. John’s confusion with his sexuality ultimately lead to him killing those he sexually encountered because the voices he heard were telling him it would please his father. In session we will discuss with John and his family ways in which the environment John is brought up in could be altered. Conceptualization of Human Nature According to Family Theory
The goal of Family Therapy models is to take the problem presented by the individual dealing with their relationships with other people in the family setting and change the negative aspects (Franklin). The Family Therapy counselor believes the development of family life include family life cycle, family life spiral, and the family genogram (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011) The family life spiral looks at how the members of the family go through the stages of development from young to old age. The family life spiral looks at generations and how they coincide with each other. The genogram charts development of generations.
The overall objective is for John Wayne Gacy to be able to find a way to cope with his anger towards his father and to be able to express how his father’s abuse towards the family affected him in a negative way. John said he wants to break down the barrier between him and his father because he loves him and ultimately wants to make him proud. To advocate for this John’s goal is to try and change the cognitive, affective, and behavioral aspects of his family system (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). In other words he wants to change the environment in the Gacy household completely around. The abuse needs to stop, the constant pressure needs to stop, and the pointing out of his weaknesses needs to be approached differently. Course of Treatment
In order to get a complete understanding I believe the first action that needs to be taken is the nuclear family emotional system needs to be broken down, what this is looking at is the possible relationships with in a family and look at where problems could possibly come about. For John, 3 of the relationship patterns are touched upon in his situation. His father is abusive to his mother and siblings, in John’s fathers eyes there is an impairment of John because he likes boys, and lastly there is an emotional disturbance suffered by John because of his father’s view of him (Genpro).
The second part that needs to be addressed is differentiation of self which is the dependency on others to give acceptance and approval. This is something John struggled with and never received from his father. He never felt like his father truly accepted him or approved of the life style that he lived (Genpro). John agreed to do 2 things a day to satisfy his needs, meaning if he wanted to work in the community do it because it made him feel good not because he wants or needs approval from his father. Treatment plan was developed and signed by John and we will meet on a weekly basis. Family Therapy Interventions
Due to John stating that the pressure his father puts on him within the family system to be successful, the first intervention to be used will be the family interview. We will follow the five stages of the interview which are social, problem, interaction, goal setting, and ending (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). This interview will give me the tools necessary to properly assess the situation. The interview will also help John and his family understands how each other feels and come up with some interventions to help facilitate change. “the first obligation of a therapist is to change the presenting problem offered. If that is not accomplished, the therapy is a failure” (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). The first intervention needs to address the problem that John has presented, based upon the interview the interventions that will be implemented will be geared towards progressing with Johns presenting problem. Research Support
The research that was obtained was very helpful in forming a counseling plan or treatment plan for this particular client. Family Therapy is known for helping individuals whose presenting problems deal with issues that stem from the family and the environment the individual was brought up in. Family therapy is the best way to look at “the patterns of communication and the relationships that connect people with one another and to their social and physical environments” (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011, p. 287). In this case we will be looking at how John fits into his family and what his father’s expectations are of John. Interviewing as an intervention will be crucial in figuring out John place in the family and seeing how his and his father’s view of the roles conflict with each other.
Family therapy allows for John and his family to work on their problem solving with each other within the family, expressing their individuality with each other, discussing the positive and negative aspect of their family atmosphere as well as with each other on an individual basis, and lastly the acceptance of each other (Capuzzi & Gross, 2011). Family therapy allows for clients to understand their environments as well as to understand their role within that environment. The counselor’s role within the session is to basically guide the discussion and conduct the interview. Family Therapy I feel is the best theory to use for a client such as John Wayne Gacy due to his confusion within his family, particularly when it comes to the relationship with his father and the expectation that his father has for him or at least how John see those expectations. Conclusion
This counseling plan reviewed the use of Family Therapy for counseling John Wayne Gacy. Family Therapy is designed to be an extensive look at John Wayne Gacy’s family makeup. John Wayne Gacy’s presenting problems are his father abusing him and his family, his father being an alcoholic, he struggles with his sexuality, and he is anti-social. Family therapy is used to deal with these concerns, so for John, the counseling objective is to find a way to cope with his anger towards his father and to be able to express how his father’s abuse towards the family affected him in a negative way. The counseling plan addresses John’s concerns of worrying about his father’s abuse and constant push for perfection as well as his anti-social tendencies. Due the treatment plan and goals presented and the attitude of John to want to get better, I feel that Family Therapy will be successful for John Wayne Gacy as well as his family.
Bell, R., & Bardsley, M. (n.d.). John wayne gacy jr. In R. BELL (Ed.), Retrieved from http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/gacy/gacy_1.html Bell, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/john-wayne-gacy-10367544 Capuzzi, D., & Gross, D. R. (Ed.). (2011). Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions (5th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association
Franklin, C. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/courses/franklin/62670/Week1.html GenoPro. Family systems theory. Retrieved from
Inside John Wayne Gacy’s Mind. Chicago: CBS. Retrieved from http://chicago.cbslocal.com/video/6658917-inside-john-wayne-gacys-mind/ Pope, J. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/family-therapy-6301
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