Family Psychotherapy

Discussion on Family Psychotherapy

The family is the most basic and fundamental unit of the society and forms the
building block of many occurrences around the society. Any situation or happenings in the
family have the potential to lead to residual effects in the society. The existence of families is
not devoid of differences and wrangles (Burford & Love, 2018) . In order to therefore salvage
the society, there is need to have a structure approach to analyze and solve problems family
members go through.
There are numerous interventions and therapies that are undertaken and
psychotherapy forms one of the most essential and important options. In this type of
interventions, members of the family are brought to table where they dissect the issues and
openly address them. This essay seeks to analyze TM’s family, understand an underlying
family challenge and thereafter determine some of the factors that would have led to the
occurrence of the problems. The analysis dates back to three previous generations including
TM and his progeny.
Background of the family.
TM is a 35 year old man, has been married three times and is currently married to his
third wife NL, 33 years old. His first and second marriages were cut short because of a
consensual agreement to terminate through a court process. He is married to NL and they

together have one child, TM who is 8 years old. On the other hand, TM has two other
siblings TG and KG who both live away from the family in a different city.
TM reports for therapy seeking intervention for the current situation where he
expresses fear of not being able to raise the child as required. Coupled to his fear, he is
worried of a previous traumatic encounter in his life, which he reports has had long term
effects on his current family. During his upbringing, he would be forced to work alongside
the parents despite the tender age. Besides, he would heavily be flogged whenever he made a
mistake, being asked to carry heavy loads to for long periods. Over time, this made him very
bitter and dejected.
In his current situation, his biggest fear is that he transmits the same anger and
bitterness to his only son. In that connection, his wife is worried that this would affect the
child’s development and even performance in school. Evidently, they had started noticing
queer behavior of fear and anxiety in their son MM. The condition has also affected the way
he relates with his wife and this in most cases drives them into unending conflicts. Parenting
for them has therefore become a nightmare with the current presentation being his expression
that he no longer loves children; despite the fact that he previously loved his son.
Consequently, TM currently drinks too much as a way of disguising his mental
challenge and as a way of avoiding conflicts with his wife and numerous thoughts that race in
his mind. The drinking had also become so intense that NL thinks the family relationship is
become strained and marriage falling apart. TM descends from KK and JK who have been
married for more than 40 years although they describe the union as one with numerous
challenges, mostly being marred with conflicts. The family lives in the outskirts of the city
where they practice small scale farming to keep them going. Besides, were initially casual
laborers and lived from hand to mouth but currently unable due to old age.
Cultural and socioeconomic issues facing the family

Socio-economic status (SES) of the family has an effect on the functioning on any
human race. The various aspects of SES have an effect on the education, the health of the
persons and poverty index (Aknin et al., 2010) . TM descends from African American parents
and therefore subscribe to the cultural practices of the ethnic group. The family lived from
hand to mouth and the daily bread depended on how hard each family member went out to
work for the day. Children were also made to work along the adults and this was culturally
not seen as incorrect.
Besides, the culture dictates that children should obey the parents and do whatever
they are told, mostly without questioning. This was an aspect of child abuse although TM’s
parents did not consider it. Whenever he feel ill, the parents did not seek healthcare
intervention but believed in their local cures as it was deemed effective in managing many
illnesses (Rogers & Meltzoff, 2017) . The family languished in abject poverty where they
would at times seek donations to survive. On the other hand, the family does not value
education and the parents only have basic education levels.
The situation in TM’s family poverty and child abuse heavily affected his
development making him overly bitter. In the long run, he was forced to quit schooling and
this was because the family would not afford to take care of his school fees. Instead of
schooling, he was asked to toil and moil and provide for the family, especially his younger
siblings who were in lower classes. To add, he is also currently supposed to provide for his
own family and take care of his aging parents who cannot even take care of themselves.
Section 2: Detailed analysis of the genogram
Previously in TM and NL’s marriage, the union had also been characterized by
squabbles that were unending. During pregnancy, TM was really frustrated by the fact that
despite his informal employment, he was supposed to provide for his father and mother who
were unable to work and provide for their daily needs. It took the intervention of NL’s family
members’ intervention to bring the family together.

After the intervention, TM and NL resolved and they were able to journey through the
gestation period to delivery. After birth, he loved his son very much but along the way, his
childhood encounters resurfaced and he began to lose affection for his son. He would get so
bitter whenever the son made even the slightest mistake. In order to disguise his anger, he
would go to the nearest pub and drink himself out. Besides, the alcohol made him so
disorganized and was unable to take care of the family needs, something that made his wife
so worried and the conflict between them intensified.


Intergenerational patterns
The different intergenerational patterns have been shown to shape the African
American families for many centuries. The patterns have been shown to shape beliefs and
different practices although there has been less effort given to identifying the underlying
issues to the patterns (“APA PsycNet,” n.d.) . The different types of intergenerational factors
include economic and socio-cultural differences.
First, there exists mean and median disparity in terms of income between the whites
and African Americans and this has been the case for many decades. The economic disparity
exists and continues to reign for generations now because a huge number of the African
Americans are born out of poverty and there is a very low probability of them moving from
rags to riches.
The disparities also continue to reign as long as the middle class members continue to
maintain their economic advantage. Alternatively, past discrimination and denial of the
opportunities has over time created huge differences between the blacks and white people in
terms of incomes. When the resources of the parents affect the ability of children to
accumulate resources, there is creation of intergenerational inequality.
There is some interesting findings that have determined that about 60% of the African
Americans, born of the black parents and whose parents’ income level fell into the 50%
bracket had high chances having income fall below the lower half when they become adults.
The income mobility is also very significant among the families of the lower class.
As a result, the black children would inherit poor backgrounds and this reduces their
chances of benefiting from high incomes. Differences in the socioeconomic positions add to
the differences on how the positions perpetuate the existence of racial inequality. There
therefore exist both past discrimination effects and the continuing effects of ongoing
discrimination (Solon, 2018) . There are three factors that have been shown to determine the

flow of family income, including family formation, income mobility and demographic
Differences in the fertility levels of the generations has also been to contribute to the
intergenerational disparities between the African Americans and whites. In the African
American, the number of children given birth to are more compared to those of the whites. As
a result, many African Americans are born into the poor families and therefore continue to
struggle with the conditions which then affects their livelihood.
Typically in this case, the family was struggling with daily upkeep and as a result TM
was born to a very poor family and a result, he was not able to gain access to adequate
resources. He was not able to go through the normal life like other children, underwent child
abuse and this led to him becoming bitter and angry about his family. As a result of the
economic disadvantage, his own small family is largely affected.
There has been numerous research on the variations of different racial groups and the
patterns have been able to illuminate the comprehension of the gasp in the races in the
attainment of education. The white Americans have been shown to leverage their parental
competitive advantage in terms of education over the black Americans. There are numerous
demonstrations that the rates at which the black Americans’ children get access to education
is way behind what the white American children have access to even with similar
In addition, it has also been shown the attainment of education by the white parents
contributes to their children’s attainment of the same education and this works for the
disadvantage of the black American children (Jordan, Dito, Nobles, & Graham, 2018) .
Middle class among the black Americans has however not shown to improve the attainment
of education unlike in the white Americans in the same class.

The white parents pass the attained education levels to their children and this
continuously puts them at an edge, disadvantaging the black children. In case of TM, his
parents only attained minimal education and as a result, they did not put more value on
education to empower their son. Less empowerment from education therefore meant that TM
could not secure a decent job that would earn him an income to support him fully. As a result,
he ended up only doing casual jobs.
Literature has therefore determined that race, the family background and mobility in
terms of education affect generations. Educational success by the black parents is not easily
passed down to the children and this has therefore left many blacks lagging behind and
discriminated against by the whites. Inability to attain a decent education in the long run
made TM less competent in the job marker and therefore frustrations would continue.
The understanding of culture specific patterns among the family members is one of
the greatest tools towards the understanding of family issues among the therapists. In some
aspects, the understanding of the general patterns tends to be misused in the sense of
stereotyping but it essentially plays a critical role in solving family challenges.
The identification of the common patterns among the African American families is
key. Importantly, the identification of the variations in the African American patterns gibes
the framework and the basis for the therapists to set hypotheses in the understanding of the
family under consideration.
The consideration of culture considers oppression, harsh social conditions and racism.
The understanding and appreciation of the culture makes the family to appreciate the role of
therapy and therefore create trust during the therapy (Van Hook & Glick, 2020) . The
gathering of the information on the complex African American culture is important and helps
to empower them and enable them seek solutions to their problems.

In the African culture, the children are sometimes expected to perform some parental
roles where the elder children have to work and provide for their younger siblings. In the case
of TM, he had to drop out of school and take care of the needs of the entire family and his
younger ones and he also was charged with ensuring that he takes care of the aging parents.
In the African culture, it is also expected that the children are expected to adapt and then cope
with the realities like oppression and racism against them (Nomaguchi & Milkie, 2017) . TM
seemed to have fought internal battles and he seemed to be facing bitterness and racism and
oppression would make this worse. On the other hand, spiritual and religious affiliations is
important for the African Americans.
The population is mainly known to be very religious and religion influences their
daily practices. The population’s religion is known to be very distinct and it is often very
overlapping and spirituality connects these people to other human beings and their creator
(Schuman, Dokken, van Niekerk, & Loubser, 2018) . Despite the strong enshrinement in the
spiritual affiliations and religion, they struggle with other challenges like drug abuse,
inadequate housing and less education. In the face of the many challenges, most people feel
ashamed and inferior when compared to the other races. The feelings of embarrassment are
also very prevalent among these people.
Due to the embarrassment and fear, these types of people fail to appreciate even when
they attain some success while not seeing any strengths. On the other hand, holding on the
heritage reminding practices and relating to them heightens the bitterness and this could
propagate any mental challenges family members are likely to face. The role of the therapist
and the social worker in the assessment of the genogram and understanding family function
in this case therefore helps to find the solution.


Application of the Bowen’s theory
The Bowen’s interlocking ideas apply in this case in a great extent. In the beginning,
the societal emotional process finds applicability in the case of TM because the black
American tend to be more anxious or unstable when compared to the white Americans
because of the different socioeconomic factors and cultural factors (Shertzer, 2018) . In the
black’s lives, their living environments tend to be characterized by stress and touch
environmental conditions.
As a result, they end up being under so much duress and this affects their lifestyles.
TM was under so much pressure growing up to an extent that he did not have a chance to
grow like the other children of his age. He grew up with so much bitterness and this has been
transferred into his own family and therefore affecting the way he raises his own son.
Possibly, the tough times growing up are also to blame for the challenges and quarrels he has
in his marriage.
The aspect of sibling position from the theory comes out clearly from the explanation
of TM’s case. The fact that he had to drop out of school to be able to fend for his siblings and
sacrifice his own education feeds greatly into the theory. Further, the aspect of
multigenerational transmission process is clearly pointed out; there are a number of life
encounters that were transmitted from TM’s parents and they end up affecting him (BRİDGE,
2019) . For instance, the way he was punished whenever he made mistakes slowly translates
into how he disciplines his own son. In essence, there is some bitterness that seems to have
run in the generation from his parents and this is seemingly being transferred to his children.
Emotional cutoff is also evident in TM’s family and this is evident where his siblings
live away from the nuclear family and have distanced themselves from the others. In essence,
the family ought to be working together and despite TM’s sacrifice to make sure his siblings
access education, the family does not stay together. The lack of nucleation in the family could
also contribute to tension and bitterness whose effects would be dire on TM’s marriage.


Personal reflection
Personally, there are numerous factors and issues that TM seems to struggle with
besides the fear in the course of parenting. His squabbles stem from the time he was a child
and there is questionable status of his upbringing. Culture seems to work against him and this
imposes burdens on him, making him overwhelmed and lacking the opportunity to grow just
like other children of his age.
TM did not attend school fully and this placed him at a disadvantaged position when
compared to other children of other races. Lack of basic education in the current time and era
puts one at a point of loss since they cannot competitively fit in the society. TM’s position in
the family also places him at a disadvantage since he was supposed to share the parenting
roles in raising his siblings.
Therefore, culture, religion and beliefs in the African American society plays a role in
the future generations of individuals. It seems that some practices transcend through the
generations and children born in a family affected by intergenerational disadvantages are
likely to suffer. TM is a victim of the culture and the challenges he goes through seem to be
inherited. In order to therefore cure the situation, understanding his upbringing would set the
stage for proper cure.
Basically, it is evident that TM is a victim of the system in the sense that whatever is
going on in his own marriage and family life is not within his making. He goes through
challenges mainly because most of the encounters are inherent in the African American
socio-economic status. Some encounters are linked to the cultural background of the African
American society. In order to therefore topple the situation, the therapist ought to have an
understanding of the situation, appreciate the impact it has on individuals and work together
with them in finding a solution.

In the course of the therapy process, it is imperative for the therapist to be sensitive
enough and avoid any incidences that would upset the status quo or remind the client of their
situation in the society. All aspects of culture and society should also be exhaustively handled
and considered without prejudice or preference to particular side. In the end, TM ought to be
treated just like any other client visiting for therapy session and should not be judged
especially based on the fact that he resolved to take alcohol to disguise his bitterness.



Aknin, L., Barrington-Leigh, C., Dunn, E., Helliwell, J., Biswas-Diener, R., Kemeza, I., …
Norton, M. (2010). Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a
Psychological Universal. National Bureau of Economic Research.

APA PsycNet. (n.d.).
BRİDGE, E. N. (2019). Bowen Teorisi Işığında Bir Vaka Çalışmasının Gözden Geçirilmesi:
Benliğin Farklılaşması. Yaşam Becerileri Psikoloji Dergisi, 3(5), 65–72.

Burford, G., & Love, C. (2018). Family Group Conferencing Cultural Origins, Sharing, and
Appropriation—A Maori Reflection. In Family Group Conferencing (pp. 15–30).

Jordan, L. P., Dito, B., Nobles, J., & Graham, E. (2018). Engaged parenting, gender, and
children’s time use in transnational families: An assessment spanning three global
regions. Population, Space and Place, 24(7), e2159.
Nomaguchi, K., & Milkie, M. A. (2017). Sociological perspectives on parenting stress: How
social structure and culture shape parental strain and the well-being of parents and
children. In Parental Stress and Early Child Development: Adaptive and Maladaptive
Outcomes (pp. 47–73).

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