Family Assessment Assessment is as essential to family therapy as it is to individual therapy. Although families often present with one person identified a
Family Assessment Assessment is as essential to family therapy as it is to individual therapy. Although families often present with one person identified as the “problem,” the assessment process will help you better understand family roles and determine whether the identified problem client is in fact the root of the family’s issues. Below is the link for the video
TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO FILE:
A MOTHER and A DAUGHTER:
A CULTURAL TALE
AN INTERVIEW WITH
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, PhD
Andrews & Clark
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: When I’m asked to do a consultation, one of the first things I ask is, what will be the most benefit for the client and the therapist and in the case that you’re going to see I’m basically asked to have a reflecting team and what we did was first have an interview with the therapist and the family and ask them what they will find useful for the interview and basically to ask them about the history of the therapy and the history of what are the kinds of things that they have been working on. I ask the reflecting team to come in and I instructed them to think of themselves as so let the god mothers of the therapist, who in a way, put them, himself, or in this case herself at risk in front of her peers and another people. So, I wanted them, the reflecting team to address the therapeutic system as a whole not just to address the family, I wanted them to talk also about the therapist and to be protective of them. I also ask the reflecting team not to be too much of clinician, but to really react on a more personal level around the family. I sometimes reflected on what they were saying to clarify or to expand the idea or how I understood it to give voice to other possibilities, but respecting the personal peace, and then, I ask I ask the family to come back to, in a classical way, to respond to those comments what strike them. In the case that we watch, it seems that the family was dealing with sort of like two forms of trauma and/or three forms of trauma; one is, history of battering the domestic violence, child sexual abuse, a history of immigration that in some ways we lay it to that trauma getting away from it and basically the mother of five children deciding that they need to move out of the home, but in the process leaving one behind who is later on sexually, I mean, raped by the father. And then at the present moment mother dealing with a fairly traumatic illness that have her, very disable, unable to walk and to work. So, it’s sort of like the interview trying to address these different forms of trauma and the way in which the young adults are trying to make sense of their bicultural life and how the whole family is trying to make sense of being bicultural and being immigrants. The session doesn’t end with a need or incredible intervention of my part because I feel that this is the part of the therapist to try to decide, this is the family that’s been working this therapist for year and half. Therefore, they have a relationship I feel that I need to respect and so those are the basic intercomments. So, tell me how is it that you came out with the idea of having this interview with me?
SANDI Okay. I’m going to go back when Patti came in for the first time. She came in because they were chaos at her household.
Sandi – their therapist
SANDI, she came to this country twelve years ago with her four children and one was left behind, her daughter who was 10 years old at that time, eight years old at that time, was left behind. Just two years back, finally they were able to get her visa and she brought her to United States. So ever since she came here chaos was created inside the household.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: So I’m clear, Sharleen you are?
SHARLEEN: Her daughter.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: Her daughter. And how old are you?
SHARLEEN: I’m 23.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: 23, and how old are your siblings?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: And that’s sister or brother?
SHARLEEN: And then 21-year-old sister and 18-year-old brother and a 15-year-old brother.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: Okay, and which one is the one that stayed there.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE: 21. Okay. All right. Okay. Go ahead, sorry.
SANDI: And I met with the entire family for two couple of sessions, and she really interested and wanted to be in therapy 21, so.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What’s her name?
Shireen – the 21-year-old sister
emigrated from Iran 2 years ago
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Okay.
SANDI She just felt that she needed the money more than coming to therapy and she refused the entire time and mom tried to she asks her, if she doesn’t feel comfortable with me. She said she has had all appointments with other therapists at this clinic, still she refused to come in, but they kept on seeing Patti and the oldest daughter Sheela for about a year and a half now. Ever since then, we started working on the chaos in the household, what is it that creating chaos and I found out that Patti lives with traditional ways of living, their daughters are trying to detach herself from Patti and grow on their own and find their own individuality. So would ask where they have been working on and ever since then she had two surgeries.
Patti had surgery on both feet.
SANDI Everything is started.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Who had two surgeries?
SANDI Patti had two surgeries on her feet.
Surgery failed – she is disabled.
SANDI And that created more tension, anxiety in the family.
She is in constant pain.
SANDI So — and I have been seeing her after her surgery and she has been referred to a psychiatrist for medication because a lot of time she feels hopeless, helpless, she feels her children are out of control, she can’t be in charge, they no need her anymore. So those are the major.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE If you were to describe an accomplishment and you have accomplishment with the therapists during this time. Is there something that you will say, it’s an important accomplishment?
SANDI Awareness of the difference between individualist ways of living and collectivistic ways of living and awareness that how they to respect and understand the children are growing in this country and they are going to try to detach themselves from Patti to be able to grow on their own.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What has been for you this work with Sandi?
PATTI, she helped me to understand the kids grow up and left the house and they have been not to depend on them so many times and try to live my life alone and then to take care of my things, my problem in the life and respect them and give them their freedom.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, Do you have a sense that that is sort word that has been accomplished that is more to be done.
PATTI, I think I need more to be done, I’m not done. No.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, Do you have of sense of what is that you would like to do?
PATTI Yeah, I’d like to learn to lead my life alone and depend on the kids a lot because in our custom when the parents get old and especially when they are in my situation they can’t walk or take care of their self, the kids are always there for parents, but over here no, they have their own life. And I expect them to be there all the time for me and they can’t, matter of fact, I had a big argument with her last night about that, I had a very bad back for few days I was done and last night, I called her, and I said come and spend a night with me and she said no, I can’t. I said, you should, and you have to, and we got into a big argument.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE So, you are on your own right now, you’re living in your own and each of the kids have their own place or?
PATTI Three of them, two of the boys lived with me 18 and 15 years old, but the 15 years old was with her for three four days and I was with 18 years old a lot. I feel like they don’t do enough for me.
SHARLEEN, she makes her own plans for me, she expects me to like to go with her and spend time with her because she is bored. I have too much to do, I can’t unwind your boredness, find something else to do, but I have plans, I’m 24 and my world around me is happening and I need to be there, I accomplish things. I can’t sit down and like chitchat for a whole day.
PATTI And I feel I’m depressed I cannot move; I need them to come and visit me, spend a night with me.
SHARLEEN, I spend, I — out of the seven days, I saw her for six days, I make sure, I saw her for six days out of that week. I spent a day with a friend, and I got some stuff done and she felt like I owe her something because I didn’t spend that time with her. And she did a nice job raising us, she was a wonderful mother, we all suffered through the good and the bad in the family like every family does, but we have all grown up, we can’t stay in the nest forever. I’m trying to experience life and my own good or bad, whether you approve it or not, it’s my life.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Sharleen, is this something that you have had a discussion, the three of you, I mean this particular, or this is not like?
SHARLEEN, I think, I have mentioned to her, but she takes it personal, she doesn’t hear me out.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Is this something that you have had conversations with the family?
SANDI Over and over, yes. Especially with the oldest daughter Sheela, she also, being the oldest, she feels that she has been the parentified child all her life, she has played a role of a man for — in her mother’s life and then the entire, I’ve seen her for about four times right, four, five times and she used to cry the entire time in the session.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And I realize that you’re being very touched by this, I mean this is not something that.
SHARLEEN Yeah, it’s something that I strive so hard to accomplish and as soon as I feel like I got her on the right step, there she goes falling depart again asking for like, I give her what I can and she keeps on asking for more and more and that’s not how my life works.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What do you right now? Are you working, studying?
SHARLEEN Yeah, I work and I’m trying to get my license. I’m trying to get accomplish things from now.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What kind of work are you are doing right now?
SHARLEEN I just — I find promotional jobs and then, I’m trying to get my real estate license.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And your sister?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Sheela, is she also on her own?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE She is also working, studying? And the 18-year old, what is he doing?
PATTI He is a student.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE In high school?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE So, he is finishing high school right now?
PATTI Yes, this year.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And is he talking also about leaving home after finishing the high school or what are his plans?
SHARLEEN He is not sure yet, depends on how the family situation is going, you know, everybody looks for happiness and peace of mind, depends like how he feels around the home.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE How about the 15-year-old?
PATTI, I have lots of problems with him, I don’t get along with him at all.
SHARLEEN, she has no patience. And she takes it out on other people.
PATTI Because I can’t do anything, I walk fewer step and that’s it, I have a horrible pain after fewer steps. And I have to sit and wait for them to come and give me a glass of water.
SHARLEEN Well, the thing is I want her not to wait for us, I want her to be on her own, I want her to learn how to like, you know there is a — you know superman lost his both feet and he sits on a wheelchair, but he is still going on with life.
PATTI But Superman has money, somebody take care of him all of the time.
SHARLEEN, you have to learn how to ease your own mind and not depend on other people. She is forty years old, if she was 60, poor dying lady, I would be more sympathetic, just 40 years old, there is much more for her to experience. It’s not time for her to start depending on her children yet. We’re only in our 20s, let me live life, let me experience and do what you can, while you can. Give it your best.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Sharleen, how is that you decided to come today, I mean what’s it?
SHARLEEN Because I was with her last week and they asked me to, they invited me to, so I thought maybe you would like help as much as this is helping you.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, do you have a sense that you are sort of being representative of the other of your siblings that you are coming as a representative for all of them in some way?
SHARLEEN We are all trying to get her to be more positive and feel like do a little step at a day, but try your best to be better, to do a better in life. Every time I try to push her to be more independent and not as much like do that all stuff with her that she could do on her own, she keeps like she has a broken wing that she wants to buoy on us, after a while, it gets heavy. You just want it off because I want to breathe, and I want to experience my life. I cannot live like a 20-year-old from Iran. I have different things to experience than to sit at home. And the thing is like I don’t feel like I can accomplish with her when I’m at home because she is either watching TV or on the phone, which is just like sad people around and I can’t hang out like that.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Besides the — your five kids and yourself, is there anybody else in the family here who immigrated with you guys or –?
PATTI, I have a cousin, but they live LA and I don’t even talk to them.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And so, in a way, when you need something, basically the only thing that you feel like you can go for your kids? When you — we’re talking about chaos, there have been — there were some chaos about a year and half ago when we start through the work and can you tell me little bit about what the chaos was about or what — how you define that?
SANDI Okay. I just want to mention something about before her surgery Patti has been a very independent women as far as working hard, single mother, raising all her children and they are all proud of her in many ways. When they came, she did not have the health problem as far as the pain in her feet, constant pain and feeling hopeless and helpless. They came for a different reason was for Shireen, because Shireen came from Iran and two weeks everything was wonderful, they all re-united, they enjoyed, celebrated for two weeks, and then, she started telling him about the stories that her father abused her sexually, physically and she was abandoned in their house. So, that’s where the explosion, the chaos started. Before that —
GONZALO BACIGALUPE When you say that the chaos started, what started to happen?
SANDI They were fighting, constant fighting, screaming, yelling and cursing each other. Before that, my understanding was that kind of was a very peaceful way of living, am I correct in this?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Okay. All right, so the tension has really sky rocketed after Sheela came back, I mean, two weeks after one, and then, he came out of that — there’s been this –?
PATTI As she came back, she was blaming me, why did you left me back home with my dad there, he did all of those things to me. And my husband used to tell her, you was a rotten fruit and she didn’t take you, you are a rotten one. She took the good ones and left you behind for me. And she was blaming me for everything.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE When you left, you had separated from your husband?
PATTI No, we were living together my daughter had a medical problem, Sheela and matter of fact, her, and they give me a medical visa to come here and Sheela and Sharleen born here many years ago. And when I went to get a Visa, they told me two of them are American citizen, you have to take them, we cannot say no. And my boys were four years old then 18 months old and Shireen was eight and they said, they decide Shireen should be stayed home and make it sure I’ll will be gone back. But after I came here, my daughter didn’t have any problem anymore and they were fine and I used to stay here and I decided to live here. And my husband was keep telling me don’t come, don’t come, stay there, I will come some day and he never sent me any money, he never did anything for us at all except sending the letter 10 pages every single day, what to do, how to leave and how to raise the kids and I throw them all in the trash because I didn’t had a time to read them and I didn’t had time to practice anything he said and I ignored everything until like six, seven years later, he just wrote a letter, I want you to be back home, you are my wife, I order you to back home and I said, forget about you, I have my life here. And who wants to go back to that life. And I was thrown all of the time to bring Shireen and I couldn’t until three years ago. Finally, she came and for couple of days, weeks everything was fine until she started talking about every problem she had back home and for any little mistakes she made, my husband used to beat her up and keep her outside the house for all night and many, many things, the things he used to do to me. And I know what she talking about and what she had to go through, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I didn’t have the choice. When I came here few weeks after, few months after I was here, I called my dad and I said, I’m worried about Shireen, I afraid to beat her and I’m not there to protect them because I was all this over to protect the kids. Each time he wants to beat them, I was right ahead of them and say, beat me, don’t touch my kids, do whatever you want with me. And my dad said you should imagine your house was in the fire, you took four of them off the fire, you left one behind, leave her behind and take care of those four you have and I thought about it, I thought, he is very right, absolutely right, I should take care of the four I have over here. Why should I go back there? He would be — make everybody miserable. I didn’t have a very good life but like she said, we all worked together and take care of each other and like I was out all of the time and like Sheela said, she was father of the kid, take care of the kids, take care of the bank account, his groceries, everything. And I used to be a care giver and save it all this and Sheela and Sharleen would stay home and take care of the kids, two younger brother and each other. And everything was okay until Shireen came. And then, after few months, for a couple of years, we had a problem until, thanks god, last May she got married with somebody behind our back.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Who got married?
PATTI Shireen, we were on the camping three when she ran away with one of my friend’s son and got married and she moved out the house and my house is so quiet and I enjoy the life so much except I get so depressed because I feel hopeless and I have so much pain and they can’t do anything about my pain, I’m always in pain.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE As you must have seen, when — do you work on how they make sense of what happen to Shireen, I mean, in Iran during the time that she was alone, was that workout with the whole family, they were some sort of a conversation in therapy?
SANDI Yes, I met, as I remember, I met with all of them and they expressed their feelings and shouting, yelling, everything was going on in our session. And they were expressing, Shireen was constantly blaming the mother for all her pain and what happened to her to lead on and a mother tried to explain her situation, the sisters also, brothers also. So, we had few sessions like that.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What was your sense of how it can — that there were some sort a resolution around that that people were able to make sense that Patti and the kids were able to make sense of this or?
SANDI I was hoping for that, that was my really aim to discover, explore their meanings of the situation and.
PATTI, they got in fight, we couldn’t keep coming back, I couldn’t make them to go back as a family.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Is it still something that is very hard to talk about or not?
PATTI About the rape you mean?
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Yeah?
PATTI What do you think?
SHARLEEN Well, I’m not very worried about, I mean, it’s affecting her life and I feel sorry for her, but I try not to think about it.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And do you have the sense that that’s what anybody else in the family tries to do that tries hard so they don’t affect?
SHARLEEN Because we already did our crying over it and I’m over it, I’m ready to move on about it.
PATTI It’s like when somebody die, you grieve for it. When I heard about it, I was crying and crying and crying for months and months, and then later on, it’s something you can’t do anything about this, something happened, what am I going to do about it. I tried to take her to counseling, I take her to Iranian psychologist, 200 dollars an hour. And she would then go back, then what can I do. And I think I’m over with it, I feel sorry for her, but what can I do. My older son doesn’t want to talk to this, his dad, nobody wants to contact him or have any relationship or anything to —
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, has he acknowledged that he did rape her?
PATTI, I told him once, and he will start cursing at me and I hang up. I said, I pay a dollar fifty a minute, I don’t want to hear your cursing. I want to see what’s going on, what happened and you tell me if it happened or not and will start cursing and I hang up. And after that, I never called back, and he is remarried, he married to Iris after Shireen came, during the three years, he got married twice and he has moved on with his life.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Is there any, I mean, is there a way in which you think, I mean you, Sharleen and maybe some of your siblings, but just from your perspective, is there where you think about how the relationship with your mom should be, is it — do you have a dream for how?
SHARLEEN Yeah, I just wanted her to be more peaceful. I want her to lower her expectations and to accept a lot of things about life.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What do you mean lower expectations, what?
SHARLEEN Not to expect so much from people, not to — I think what she does is, she thinks of an idea and she reacts on it so so quick without she calming herself down before she like takes the reaction.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, do you have a sense that your mom thinks that you can do more than what you can actually do?
SHARLEEN, I have a sense that she is holding me back from doing all that I could be doing and as soon as I could get excited about her, every time I give her little bit of hope, there she goes back expecting more, and then, getting angry at. She has some thoughts then she is so hanging up that these thoughts are like so true and she gets angry about them and she hold on to them, then she accuses people and all they are her thoughts in her mind. And I just ask her to leave them alone, let people be and everything is going to — just then it’s going to take its course.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, Am I trying to tell you, if you were to think about how your ambition, how you see it in the future, the relation how do you see it? I mean, if you were to move in a way the direction that you want it to move, how many times do you see yourself beside in her or interacting with her?
SHARLEEN, I speak to her every day, I mean almost every day.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE But again, I’m asking you more about —
SHARLEEN Like in the future, yeah, I just want her to like be more calm about like life so that I could like through her better. So that when I do spend time with her that I could enjoy it better instead of her frightening my other siblings or telling me about how so and so, this and that and this and that. I just want her to be more calm so we could just enjoy the moment when we hang out, rather than like.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What kinds of things do you enjoy with her in the moment?
SHARLEEN, I try to tell her about my ideas, how she is like be more relaxed and not — you know same things.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Patti, how do you ambition the relationship with your daughter?
PATTI, I saw her on Sunday, Sunday night and Sunday night, I went to visit my older daughter and she was aware that I took the dinner for them. And after I laid down fully at my daughter, older daughter house, I couldn’t get up, they pulled me and took me to the car and I came home. I didn’t see her until yesterday afternoon and I said, I have been done with my bag. I just want them to spend time with me. I’m lonely, I get depressed when I’m lonely. If she had a job, if she was working like the other people, I would understand she is working everyday like my older daughter, she go to her school, she work, I understand she doesn’t have a time, but I know she has time and I expect her to come and spend the time. And I said, I gave you whatever you want, whatever I have in the house like furniture, this and that, anything she said, mom can I have this? Sure, honey, doesn’t matter you or me, you can have it. And when I’m like that with you, I expect you to do something for me too.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Patti, I understand how also you are feeling upset about this, about and I know that the question I’m asking is hard, I mean, how do ambition the relationship with Sharleen? What will you like to happen in the future?
PATTI Between me and her? I want her to just spend time with me whenever she can.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE What kind of time for instance would you like to –?
PATTI She come and stay at my house because she knows I cannot live with two boys and go to her house. She most of the time ask me to come and stay at my house, but when I go to her house and I spend over there, I’m worried about 18 years old I have at home.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And do you have a sense of how many times, how many nights that you would like her to spend with you in your home?
PATTI Once a week is good if she come and stay the day or night, once a week with me is fine, but when she come like one hour, half hour, she is for example, going to go see so and so to keep a board work, she will stop at my house to have a drink the water or say, hi mother, how are you?
SHARLEEN Two, three hours?
PATTI That’s not a visit for me, I wanted to come with me and spend the time with me and stay with me that day.
SHARLEEN When I go over there, she is either on the phone or she is watching TV, I’m very, very uncomfortable in her house like to where I cannot stand sitting down because she has two dogs around and I don’t like those things. I don’t like the hair on my body. When I touch an animal, I wash my hands before I eat. She has two dogs, there is dog here on the couch, dog here on the floor, dog here on the chairs, there is dogs all around. I don’t want to eat anything because the dishes smell like dogs, I’m not comfortable. I don’t enjoy that, it’s not pleasant to me. I could only do it so much at a time. I express that to her, you have dogs, I can’t eat either your dishes. That’s my culture, that’s how I was brought up and I thought that’s how she was brought up. So, she surprises me when she does these things, she makes the family unhappy because nobody wants to see dogs, it smells like dogs in her house.
PATTI How come you don’t do the other things, you grow up and have a cold chill like, that’s just the only thing you know.
SHARLEEN I don’t — I cannot stand it, I cannot stand it.
PATTI And they give me so much happiness, they make me so happy, I love them so much.
SHARLEEN I don’t like it.
PATTI And I never ever going to get rid of them.
SHARLEEN I don’t like it, don’t ask me to sleep in the pillow, it’s that the dogs stinks.
PATTI Actually, you know we have a guest room, the dogs doesn’t in that room.
SHARLEEN I cannot sleep in motels, I cannot use other people’s bed, I cannot sleep with dogs, I cannot do these things.
PATTI You know that bed brand new and you know the sheets and everything brand new in the guest room and you know that that door is closed.
SHARLEEN I’m not enjoying it, I cannot eat breakfast, when I’m thirsty I can’t drink water there.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Let me ask you, is this the kind of sometimes the — where the discussions go?
GONZALO BACIGA And if I were to let you go over the discussion where will it end, one of you will leave the room or –?
SHARLEEN I will start screaming.
PATTI Screaming, yeah.
SHARLEEN And disrespecting and calling names.
PATTI I do.
SHARLEEN At this stage, I don’t —
GONZALO BACIGALUPE And you would be like, I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.
SHARLEEN I’m trying to become a woman, I’m trying to became a lady. And when I go to her house, she treats me disrespectfully like that about her dogs, she would curse me out and I just feel, oh, what a mother.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE, would you say both of you that you would like that not to happen that you will not get into this.
PATTI Of course I love them.
GONZALO BACIGALUPE Do you sometimes dream with, been able to relate to each other without having to get into this.
SHARLEEN Of course, I do.
PATTI I feel even we argue, we still love each other and I feel like, they are my kids, they will be still here for me if I need them really. And they have been until sometimes lately.