Wanda, a 17-year-old high school senior, has been rejected by a boy in her chemistry class whom she wanted to date for the senior prom.  Wanda became severely depressed and attempted suicide with an overdose of barbiturates. 

QUESTION

Case Study, Mohr

CHAPTER 15, Families and Family Interventions

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Wanda, a 17-year-old high school senior, has been rejected by a boy in her chemistry class whom she wanted to date for the senior prom.  Wanda became severely depressed and attempted suicide with an overdose of barbiturates. 
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In completing the case study, students will be addressing the following learning objective:

Describe the family as a system adapting to change.

1. Wanda, a 17-year-old high school senior, has been rejected by a boy in her chemistry class whom she wanted to date for the senior prom.  Wanda became severely depressed and attempted suicide with an overdose of barbiturates.  Wanda’s mother found her unconscious and called an emergency ambulance to take her to the emergency department at the local hospital.  After Wanda’s recovery, she was in individual counseling, and the psychiatrist referred all family members for counseling.   Naomi, her younger sister, refused to go, saying that she did not have a problem and that Wanda was the one who had tried to commit suicide.  Her older brother, Matthew, had a similar response and added that Wanda had embarrassed the family.  Wanda’s parents stated that they would attend and urged both Naomi and Matthew to attend family counseling.

(Learning Objective: 1)

  • Wanda’s family must reorganize to survive the disturbance created by the suicide attempt. Describe the family as a system adapting to change.

ANSWER

Adapting to Change: The Family as a System in Response to a Suicide Attempt

Introduction

When a family experiences a significant crisis, such as a suicide attempt by one of its members, it disrupts the existing dynamics and necessitates adaptation. This case study examines how Wanda’s family, following her suicide attempt, must reorganize and adapt to the resulting disturbance. By understanding the family as a system, we can gain insights into the processes through which families respond to change and promote healing. This essay explores the family’s adaptation to change and highlights the importance of family counseling in facilitating this process.

Understanding the Family as a System

Families can be viewed as complex systems, wherein individual members and their interactions create a larger whole. Changes, whether positive or negative, affect the entire family system, leading to adjustments in roles, communication patterns, and emotional dynamics. Wanda’s suicide attempt has undoubtedly created a disturbance within her family system, prompting the need for adaptation.

Family Responses to Crisis

In response to Wanda’s suicide attempt, each family member exhibited unique reactions. Naomi, the younger sister, refused to attend counseling, indicating her denial of any personal issues and attributing the problem solely to Wanda. Similarly, Matthew, the older brother, expressed embarrassment, further highlighting the family’s struggle to come to terms with the crisis. However, Wanda’s parents recognized the importance of seeking help and encouraged both Naomi and Matthew to participate in family counseling.

Reorganization and Adaptation

Adapting to change requires reorganization within the family system. In this case, the family must establish new patterns of communication, roles, and boundaries to address the aftermath of Wanda’s suicide attempt effectively (Richman, 1979). Family counseling provides a safe space for family members to express their feelings, concerns, and perspectives, facilitating this reorganization process.

The Role of Family Counseling

Family counseling plays a vital role in supporting the family’s adaptation to the crisis. By engaging in therapy, family members can gain insight into their individual experiences, understand the impact of the suicide attempt on the entire family system, and develop healthier coping strategies (Varghese et al., 2020). Through effective communication and problem-solving techniques learned in counseling, families can enhance their resilience and foster a supportive environment for each member’s emotional healing.

Benefits of Family Counseling

Encouraging Open Communication: Family counseling provides a platform for each family member to express their emotions, thoughts, and concerns related to the crisis (Moudatsou et al., 2020). Open communication allows for the acknowledgment of pain, validation of experiences, and the building of empathy within the family system.

Strengthening Family Bonds: By participating in counseling together, family members can rebuild trust, repair relationships, and strengthen their connections. This process helps create a sense of unity and shared responsibility for the family’s well-being.

Developing Coping Strategies: Family counseling equips families with effective coping strategies to navigate the challenges associated with the crisis. Learning healthy communication techniques, stress management, and problem-solving skills enables family members to support one another during difficult times.

Promoting Individual and Family Resilience: Through counseling, family members can develop resilience by acknowledging their strengths and developing strategies to bounce back from adversity. This resilience not only benefits individual family members but also strengthens the family as a whole.

Conclusion

Wanda’s family is confronted with the task of adapting to the changes brought about by her suicide attempt. By understanding the family as a system, we recognize the interconnectedness of its members and the need for reorganization to promote healing and growth. Family counseling serves as a valuable resource in facilitating this adaptation, providing a platform for open communication, strengthening family bonds, developing coping strategies, and fostering resilience. Through this collaborative therapeutic process, Wanda’s family can rebuild and create a healthier and more supportive system capable of addressing future challenges.

References

Moudatsou, M., Stavropoulou, A., Philalithis, A., & Koukouli, S. (2020). The Role of Empathy in Health and Social Care Professionals. Healthcare, 8(1), 26. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8010026 

Richman, J. (1979). The Family Therapy of Attempted Suicide. Family Process, 18(2), 131–142. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.1979.00131.x 

Varghese, M., Kirpekar, V., & Loganathan, S. (2020). Family Interventions: Basic Principles and Techniques. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_770_19 

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