The Farmer Family (Group A - Case Study)
An interracial couple, Maria and Christopher are parents to three children range in ages 4
to 9. Maria is 35 years old and biracial; she is Latina and African-American. Maria was raised
with her two older siblings in a two-parent household with Christian values. Christopher is 45
Caucasian had a younger brother and was raised to observe the Catholic faith, by a single
Maria and Christopher met through a mutual friend at a Christmas party. Christopher
introduced himself to Maria, and the two exchanged numbers. The two had several things in
common such as their educational background, both have undergraduate degrees in engineering,
both enjoyed social gatherings, and both believed in the importance of family and the principles
of marriage. After dating exclusively for six months, Christopher asked Maria to marry him, and
six months later, they were married in a small chapel surrounded by friends and their family. The
couple had their twins Amber and Alicia one year after they were married. Maria decided to
return to work after she had the twins, while Christopher stayed home to care for the girls. The
family was financially stable, and Maria received a promotion at work while Christopher happily
cared for the girls. When the girls were five years old, Maria learned she was pregnant with
August. Christopher and Maria agreed Amber and Alicia were ready to enter pre-school, and
located a daycare two miles from their home. Christopher expressed his intent to re-enter the
workforce, but Maria felt August was too young to be left at daycare.
After another year at home, Christopher began applying for jobs and received a call for a
lead engineer position at a company he hoped to represent. When Christopher shared the news
with Maria, she was furious and began shouting and throwing things. Christopher also became
angry and began shouting, and then he slapped Maria. Amber, Alicia, and August were watching
television in the living room, but could hear the commotion. August began crying, and his sisters
screamed for their father. Maria could hear the girls calling for Christopher, and she rushed to the
living room. Maria’s face is red, and her makeup is smudged from her tears. The girls ask her
what was happening, and she told them their father hit her, and they were getting a divorce.
Maria gathered the children, told Christopher she will send him the divorce papers and went to
stay with her parents. The children cried for their father and Maria told them they would never
see him again.
The children had no communication with their father for three years. Subsequently, the
girls began acting out in school and August eating, and sleeping habits were irregular. Maria
called Christopher, and they met to discuss how to help their children who are now ages 4
(August), and 9 (Amber & Alicia). Maria and Christopher agreed they should seek counseling.
The Scope of Divorce
When inter-parental conflict occurs, and the marital relationship ends in separation and
divorce, this stressful event can have a negative impact on children. According to, Copeland
(1985) the impact the divorce has on children can vary based on the child’s age and gender.
The developmental age of the child can determine how well a child may understand the
event of divorce. For instance, some children react to divorce by exhibiting aggression, behavior
problems, some respond with depression or withdrawal, some with physical illness, while others
show no observable effects (Copeland, 1985). In order to explore the developmental variation in
children’s response, a study was conducted with school-aged boys, and girls ranged in age from
6 to 12 and their mothers. The children and their mothers participated in a play observation and
were interviewed individually and asked questions concerning their daily life, the causes and
effects of the separation, as well as their perceptions of their reaction and other’s responses to the
marital separation. The study also examined whether there was a significant difference in the
children’s responses based on gender (Copeland, 1985).
The results of the study indicated that there was no significant difference found on any
of the separation reaction measures, although the boys reported feeling more socially competent
than girls on the Perceived Competence Scale (Copeland, 1985). Regarding behavior, boys who
presented more negative behaviors reported being more confused and having more guilt than
boys who had fewer behavior problems. Also, the boys who were described as having fewer
behavior problems, those with more illnesses reported that they were gladder than boys who had
fewer incidence of illness. The reason being, the relationship with their mothers, boys whose
mothers demonstrated more anger, hostility, and poor adjustment to the marital separation and
divorce reported their sons had more behavior problems than mothers of boys with minor
behavior problems (Copeland, 1985).
In comparison to their male counterparts in the study, girls who are rated with behavior
problems reported feeling guiltier and indicated having low competence of their parent’s marital
issues, and if they were linked in the more illness group, they also displayed more anger than
girls who did not fall within these categories (Copeland, 1985). It is also important to note that
girl’s whose mothers were poorly adjusted, who reported that their daughter’s had behavior
problems were also identified with increased hostility, anger, confused, anxious, and tense about
their marital situation.
The overall findings in this study indicate that the adjustment of the maternal figure was a
contributing factor to the children’s responses to the marital separation/divorce, but more
research is needed to determine whether additional family/parental variables are significant in
describing why children may respond differently to separation and divorce.
When considering the above study and reviewing the “Farmer Family,” the children’s
reaction to the divorce appears to be similar to the boys and girls discussed in the study. For
instance, in the case study, Maria has reported that Amber and Alicia (age 9) are demonstrating
behavior problems as they are acting out in school. To further understand why the girls are
displaying poor behavior in school, the therapist working with them would need to consider their
level of competence surrounding the divorce, inquire about their feelings about it, and explore
other factors such as illness, as well as Maria and Christopher’s adjustment to their separation
Besides Amber and Alicia’s changes in behavior, the case study also mentions that
August is not eating or sleeping well. Given the information reported in the case study conducted
by Copeland, boys tend to be more competent of the marital decline than girls (Copeland, 1985).
However, given August’s age (4), he may not have the developmental capability to understand
the event of divorce. The reason being, the study was conducted with boys ages 6 to 12 years,
and August is younger than the children of the study, so the therapist working with August
would need to examine how much of the marital separation he understands to appropriately
address the impact the divorce is having on him. In other words, is August’s inability to sleep
and eat well a result of his understanding of his parent’s marital resolution or a result of his
maternal figure's adjustment?
Engagement Process Draft
The engagement process begins when the family and the children makes the initial
contact with the social worker. It can be either voluntary or involuntary (Kirst-Ashman,
2013). In the case of Christopher, Maria and the three children; Amber and Alicia 9-years-old,
and 4-year-old August, the importance of building a strong rapport is effective to establish a
relationship. They have voluntary acknowledge that they need help with their marriage as they
realized the negative impact the divorce was having on their children.. The process of building a
rapport with the family who experienced separation for 3 years is to:
Acknowledge each family member present; (example. “Hello, I guess this Amber, Alicia, and
August?”), with a warm smile, friendly greeting, and a comfortable seating in the office. As
stated by Copeland (1985), the developmental stage of each child is considered during this stage.
The social work will then introduce herself and discuss agency services and expectations in
meeting their needs.
Attentively listen to Christopher and Maria for their reasons in seeking assistance at this time in
their marriage. Allow the children to share their views on the presenting problem drawing a
family map (The family map allows the social worker to visualize the children feelings about the
effect of the divorce in their lives, (Dumont, 2008)
Maintain eye contact with each member of the family as they rely their part of the problem.
Leaning forward and nodding with interest are part of the attentive listening skills.
Ask open-ended questions for clarification and use silence when necessary to enable the family
to share their feelings about the divorce. Play therapy can be incorporated with the children
during the engagement process for understanding, and clarification's of their feelings about the
Provide family with informed consent to engage in agency help and confidentiality paperwork.
Christopher and Maria are seeking re-unification of their family after three years of separation. In order to
assess the family unit, a social worker identifies the client’s problem, the strengths and assets, the support system,
and the family interactions. In undertaking an assessment, the social worker seeks to find a clear
understanding of the individual’s:
Presenting problem – 45-year-old Christopher and 35 year-old Maria have been married for six years and separated
for three years. They had three children, Amber and Alicia who are now 9-years old and 4-year-old August. Due to a
disagreement as to who is going to be the head of household or caregiver, there was a heated argument and they
Need, or situation – Childcare needs. Job adjustments for suit the family needs. Address the
issues of interpersonal conflicts that affects Christopher and Maria to relate to each other (KirstAshman, 2013). Communication skills and marriage counseling for reunification. Children's
behavioral needs are considered during the assessment process to address the aggression and
behavioral problems at school.
Strengths, assets, and skills – The parents involved are both educated with undergraduate degrees
in engineering. Christopher grew up with a belief in the Catholic faith, and Maria has strong
Christian values. The spiritual resources is some of the strengths that they both possess to
reconcile the family. Their educational attainment is also skilled based.
Support system – The support system is mainly from Maria’s side of the family. She grew up in
the nuclear family system, consisting of a mother, father, and two older siblings. Research
indicates that a home with two caregivers offer more support than a single parenting household
(GoodTherapy.org, 2018). The school-based intervention facilitates the CODIP for the children
during school period.
Family interactions- On both sides of the family, Christopher, Maria, and the children have
extended family members for support. Religious interactions can be encouraged for the family’s
benefit. The family can be encourage to participate in the activities in the church for additional
Biopsychosocial information- Family history of divorce, psychological testing (to include an
emotional or uncontrollable behaviors), and social isolations.
Literature Review of Evidence-Based Family Interventions
A recent research states 1.5 million youth experience parental divorce every year in the United States, and
34% of children living in America will experience parental divorce before reaching age 16 (GoodTherapy.org,
2018). The high pervasiveness of divorce and the fact that parental divorce is a risk factor for various mental health
and substance abuse problems means its influence on population rates of problem outcome in youth is considerable
(GoodTherapy.org, 2018). Therefore, the prevalent application of efficient pre-emptive interventions for children
from divorced families could have substantial public health advantages. Divorce usually means children lose daily
contact with one parent most often fathers (GoodTherapy.org, 2018). Decreased contact affects the parent-child
bond and researchers have found many children feel less close to their fathers after divorce. Divorce also affects a
child’s relationship with the custodial parent most often mothers (GoodTherapy.org, 2018). Primary caregivers often
report higher levels of stress associated with single parenting. Studies show mothers are often less supportive and
less affectionate after divorce (GoodTherapy.org, 2018). Additionally, research indicates their discipline becomes
less consistent and less effective. Evidence-based interventions help parents and children navigate challenges
accompanying divorce, by providing solutions for communication barriers, anger, mental and physical health issues,
and peer interactions (GoodTherapy.org, 2018). Three interventions focusing on family intervention for divorce are
New Beginnings Program, Children of Divorce Intervention Program, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
The New Beginnings Program (NBP) is a theory-based preventative intervention targeting parenting skills,
which has shown to improve multiple youth outcomes (ASU REACH Institute, 2013). The NBP is a 10-session
program created to promote effective parenting following family separation or divorce. The program teaches skills
that help parents foster warm and positive relationships, employ open communication with children, use effective
discipline, and keep children out of the middle of conflict between the parents (ASU REACH Institute, 2013).
NBP’s focus is on effective parenting because according to research, the quality of parenting by both mothers and
fathers is one of the most powerful resources for helping children adjust positively to parental divorce (ASU
REACH Institute, 2013). New Beginnings Program has been rigorously evaluated, and proven as an effective
intervention to improve parenting, and reduce children mental health problems (ASU REACH Institute, 2013).
Results have shown that children whose parents participated in NBP had better adjustment on a wide range of
outcomes. Statistically, the New Beginnings Program had 37% lower rates of diagnosed mental disorders and lower
levels of mental health problems, as well as less use of alcohol, marijuana, and other related drugs (ASU REACH
Institute, 2013). Children also had higher levels of self-esteem and higher grades – 35% of the adolescents whose
parents participated in the NBP had an A or B average in school (ASU REACH Institute, 2013).
Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) is a selective preventative schoolbased intervention based on factors linked in research with risk and resilience in children’s postdivorce adjustment (Green, 2009). The program’s main goals are to reduce the stress of parental
divorce by providing a supportive environment, and building skills to help children cope with the
various challenges related to parental divorce (Green, 2009). CODIP focuses on children’s
personal responses to divorce by providing them with emotional support and teaching cognitivebehavioral coping and internal control skills (Green, 2009). These two sources of resilience are
empirically related to post-divorce adjustment. The program seeks to develop effective and
active coping styles, including problem solving and positive thinking (Green, 2009). It also
focuses on clarifying misconceptions, framing realistic appraisal of control, and providing
accurate attributions for parental problems, which have proven to support better adjustment in
school-age children (Green, 2009). Children of Divorce Intervention Program has four program
manuals that have been developed for children of different ages: kindergarten and first grade,
second and third grades, fourth through sixth grades, and seventh and eighth grades (Green,
2009). All CODIP programs utilize a group model, and the structure and content are based on the
developmental characteristics of each age group (Green, 2009).
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach that links cognitions
to feelings and behaviors (Avila, 2013). Grief is in the face of all types of loss and always refers
to a relationship (e.g. divorce). A family is unit that is emotionally connected due to interactions
among each other (Avila, 2013). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy uses psycho-education and
counseling-oriented groups to focus on coping with the reality of the divorce situation as well as
the feelings elicited by the divorce (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 20032018). Group counseling emphasizes the usefulness of helping children feel less isolated,
connect with and learn from others, receive peer validations and support, and normalize
experiences (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2003-2018). Group counseling
is effective in treating the psychological, social, and academic problems experienced by children
of divorce (Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 2017).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Interventions Draft
The NBP is advantageous because it has been shown to decrease common problems that
arise after divorce. The results of this intervention also showed improvement upon children
impacted by divorce. NBP has proven to benefit parents as well. The program decreases negative
or defiant behavior in youth, improve the mother-child relationship quality, and helps with
enforcing effective discipline (Wolchik et. al, 2009). In addition, the program has had a profound
impact on child and adolescent outcomes. Mental Disorder symptoms, substance use, academic
achievement, and emotional regulation were all improved after implementing the NBP. Research
has shown the impact of NBP exclusively to Caucasian, middle-class families (Sigal, et. al,
2012). To meet the needs of the diverse populations of divorcing families, the NBP must become
more adaptable. More research does need to be completed on ways to engage diverse families
whose values, preferences, and socioeconomic levels may different.
The CODIP allows children in the program to experience greater adjustment gains after
divorce. The program also helps children decrease learning issues, improve their outlook on life,
decrease anxiety, and reduce feelings of self-blame, however; the program did not improve upon
the child’s own perception related to their self- esteem (Velderman et. al, n.d.) Similarly, to the
NBP, the CODIP program also have been based on samples consisting of causation, middle class
children, which discounts the needs of diverse populations. In addition, the program also focuses
on the child only, and does eliminate children who are below 4th grade and over 6th grade ages.
CBT can help family members navigate their emotions during and after a divorce has
taken place. CBT is advantageous because it helps families develop self-awareness of the
thoughts that contribute to a negative mood and offers skills to incorporate positive change
(Zinbarg & Barlow, 1992). CBT is versatile and offers improvement in a short amount of time.
CBT involves confronting emotions and anxieties. This may be overwhelming for some younger
children or even individuals who are not ready to face these emotions. Another limitation of CBT
is that it may require a lot of commitment and self-awareness, which may not be su ...
Purchase answer to see full attachment