Week 3 Case Study – The Case of Jan

Learning Resources
• Course Text: An Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy
o Chapter 3, “Structural Family Therapy” (pp. 63–93)
o Chapter 4, “Strategic Family Therapy” (pp. 95–121)
o Chapter 5, “Milan Systemic Therapy” (pp. 123–147)

Application: A Therapy Model in Study
The strengths and limitations of a systems theory and systems theory
model can best be understood when considered in relation to
In this Application, you will apply the structural family therapy
model, strategic family therapy model, or Milan systemic therapy
to a family case and analyze its benefits and limitations in relation
to the case.
To prepare for this assignment:
• Review this week’s Learning Resources.
• Review the Lowndes family case study from Week 3 (Week 3 Case
• Consider how you might apply concepts from the structural family
therapy model, strategic family therapy model, or Milan systemic
therapy model to the Lowndes family case.
The assignment: (2 pages)
• Describe the dynamics of the Lowndes family from the Week 3 case
study using the understanding of family pathology offered by the
therapy model that you did not use for comparison in your Discussion
post this week.
• Identify three techniques that you might use in counseling the
Lowndes family based on the approach of this particular therapy
Explain why you would use each technique and what you would hope to
achieve through doing so.
• Identify strengths and limitations of this therapy model as
applied to the Lowndes family case.

Week 3 Case Study
Jan has received her couples and family counseling license and has
opened a private practice. The Lowndes family (husband, Tom; wife,
Lisa; children, Steven [12] and Daniel [10]) entered counseling with
Jan because of continuous discord in the family.
Tom and Lisa have been married for 15 years. Tom is in upper
management for a business and Lisa is a homemaker. Lisa indicated
during the intake phone call that she believed the discord stemmed
from her husband’s absence from the family as he “is always working
and even if he isn’t in his office, he brings work home with him.”
further asserted that this has caused problems with their children,
who disrespect her, argue constantly with each other, and show poor
performance academically. Over the past month, Steven had been sent
the principal’s office six times for acting out at school. The school
counselor, who is a friend of Jan’s from graduate school, suggested
family counseling to the Lowndeses and referred them to Jan. It took
some coercing, but Lisa finally talked Tom into attending the family
In the initial session, Tom reported that he believed that the
children’s misbehavior, especially Steven’s, was a result of Lisa’s
“coddling” the children and giving in to their every whim. Lisa,
however, blamed Tom’s absence from the family for the children’s
behavior problems. In front of the children, Tom yelled at Lisa,
saying that if she wasn’t such a “cold fish” he might want to be home
more often. Lisa began to cry while the children scowled at their
father. For the most part, the children were quiet as their parents
argued over who was to blame for the family problems. Jan attempted
bring the children into the discussion and finally Steven grumbled,
“This is what it is like all the time. They are always yelling at
other—over everything.” Daniel nodded his head and said he usually
goes to his room and pulls the pillow over his head when his parents
start arguing. In fact, the arguing in the session lasted so long
Jan was unable to do any assessment or family-of-origin history
Before the second session, Tom called Jan and said that he needed to
tell her something. He explained that he was on the verge of having
affair, that he had not had any sexual contact yet, but that he felt
strong emotions for a female colleague. He reported, “It is just so
easy to be around her. Being with Lisa is like being in a war zone.”
He then asked Jan not to tell Lisa. He said that he would like to
a few sessions alone and asked if he could do this without Lisa
finding out, “just to get my head straight.”
Lisa also contacted Jan between sessions. She reported that she
needed to tell Jan that she was six weeks pregnant. She stated that
this was an unplanned pregnancy and that she had not told Tom. She
said she was considering an abortion because “the way this family is
right now, I don’t want to bring another child into the picture.” She
further indicated that she sees the pregnancy as a way to hurt Tom
being so accusing with and unavailable to her. She said that he has
always wanted a daughter and she thought that this baby would be a
girl, and that she could “sting” him by having an abortion,
if she was right about the baby being a girl.
Jan feels like she is in over her head with this case. She doesn’t
know where to begin with the family or what to do with all the
secrets. She is uncertain as to whether she should keep these clients
or refer them to another counselor.

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