In my attempt to outline a family seeking therapy for domestic violence using the Family Systems Theory, I will first give a detailed account of the family history, and then embark on the problem before tackling the intervention strategy.
John married Jane 20 years ago. At the time of their marriage, John had a well paying job which could support his nuclear family as well as his parents. John’s parents were peasant farmers who actually had sold everything they had in order to pay John’s school fees. John’s parents had placed a lot of hope in him before he contracted this marriage.
This fact led them to discourage John from marrying Jane since they considered that John having spent the family resources in his education, he had every reason first to pay school fees for his young brothers. To avoid clashing with his parents, John promised to handle both responsibilities (that is, caring for the younger siblings and his wife). After lengthy deliberations the parents submitted to his observations and allowed him to go forward and marry Jane.
On the other hand, Jane at the time of marriage was employed as a sales girl and earned amount that could see her through most of her needs. Jane appeared to be a self styled lady depicting a lot of wealth. Even though Jane’s parents were notoriously religious, Jane had an out of wedlock child which she was caring at her parents. This issue was however unknown to John. Jane did not bother or she ignored to disclose to John about this issue. John only happened to know about the kid a few weeks to their wedding day. This did not detract John from marrying her fiancée.
Jane was the last born in a family of six children, 3 girls and 3 boys. Her parents were wealthy and of middle social standing. This family not only was it capable of meeting basic needs but also some luxuries. Her elder brothers were all married and comfortably settled down. The two elder girls were also married to wealthy husbands who owned some assortments of luxurious properties including several vehicles. Unlike John’s family, Jane’s family was in actual fact composed of well to do family members.
It is important to note that Jane’s educational background was not pleasing as she had dropped out of school when she contracted her first pregnancy. John however, had knowledge of her lovers, educational background and seemed to be contended with the situation. At first, when Jane highlighted to her parents about her future prospects, they at first disapproved the marriage on the grounds that John could afterwards ditch her due to her first child or due to her educational standards. Jane succeeded to bargain for blessing of the marriage through cheating her parents that John was aware of everything, thus there was no cause of worry.
As noted earlier, few days after John married Jane, there was a misunderstanding over the first issue as John demanded an apology from Jane for failing to disclose fully her status. This time the marriage was saved by the intervention of John’s parents who pleaded with him to shelve the matter and love his wife as before.
Joy returned to these couples and within a period of 10 years, they had 3 more children inside the wedlock. John managed to convince Jane to leave her job so as to concentrate with family matters, which included taking care of the children among others.
This move however, was viewed by John’s in-laws negatively as they considered John’s salary to be insufficient. They also had negative thoughts about the future status of their daughter’s marriage, as they had conviction that John would one day ditch Jane. They rebuked Jane for being seduced to terminate her employment.
During the 15 years into marriage, John was suspended from his employment under very queer circumstances. What happened is that John, while supposed to be on duty, had that day requested a fellow workmate to play his part, while he attended to some family issues. Unfortunately, the same day, there occurred some robbery at his place of work and more particularly involving his department. This called for his suspension pending investigation that was followed by his dismissal without terminal benefits. Upon dismissal John and his family moved to there rural home. Coping with life was not easy as the family had to readjust and face some of the realities of life.
The family was in total economic disrepair and john for the sake of saving the situation sold most of his rag-tag assets. However the going was not smooth as these did not last the family for a ling time. As a way of escaping realities of life, John started to drink. This only served the purpose of increasing his problems. Upon being confronted by her wife he resorted to abusive language.
The problem facing the family now is that as a result of John’s change of behavior Jane’s parents are blaming her for failing to listen to their instructions in the first place. Even though they have secured Jane something to see the family through basic needs, they are threatening to withhold the same if she keeps on sticking to this doomed marriage.
On the other hand John’s children seem to be suffering from emotional distress due to the misunderstanding pitying the parents. The out of wed-lock daughter is considering that their father is battering her mother due to her presence in the family. John seems to be sinking deep and deeper in drug and substance abuse. He abuses his children through neglect as well as physically associating them. John’s parents seem to suggest that John made a mistake in marrying Jane for reasons which are not clear.
The family is about to break-down as john is engaged in all manner of domestic violence. Sometime when drunk he raises the subject of the first daughter, a topic that Jane considers to have been dealt with in the past. He also sees Jane’s parents to be the source of all his problems as he associates them with wealthy bureaucrats who are out to play down his marriage. There is total communication breakdown in John’s family as well as between the extended family (in-laws). The family with the aid of a Good Samaritan is now seeking therapy. Remember Jane is cursing herself for having disrespectful to her parent’s advice. The same thing is also happening to John. This culminates into the children loosing hope.
The therapy required here should encompass all the members of the nuclear as well as the extended family. First it is important to evaluate the family through scheduling interviews that involves with some members of this immediate family. This interview should include children as well as two significant members of the extended family. There is a need for the therapist to be a man and woman as to treat gender related issues on top of serving as role models for the family.
The therapy being based on the family systems theory the family should be regarded wholly as being the unit of treatment. Therefore emphasis should be placed on communication processes. John’s family should be analyzed first. Therapist’s comments and remarks should be structured in a manner likely to help family members become more conscious of patterns or structures that had been previously ignored.
Sessions should be structured in a way that members of the extended family can, eat together, so as to afford the most required ingredient of family to succeed-communication. By the end of the therapy members of this family including the IP (Identified Patient) should be seen to differentiate.
Nichols, M.P. & Schwartz, R.C. (2006). Recent Developments in Family Therapy: Integrative Models; in Family therapy: concepts and methods. 7th Ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.