Mr. McLeod says he really would be glad of our help. He has felt all along that there was something mentally wrong with Jimmy and that he hopes now we can find a psychiatrist who understands “mental deficiency” and can help them get the kind of treatment Jimmy needs. Whilst Jimmy is out of earshot Mr. McLeod quietly adds that perhaps Jimmy should be in a “special home for kids like that.”
I explained that our service plan would be to include the whole family, as Jimmy’s difficulties were clearly affecting everyone. This has been found to be the most effective way to help families. With family interviews, all the members of the family can be enlisted to cooperate in working to change things, and the burden does not just fall on the parents. Moreover, if everyone hears what is said, and everyone has a chance to be heard, all family members feel more secure and more involved in working to make things better.
Mr. McLeod wondered if this was just my “bright idea” or if it had been tried anywhere else. I explained that the principle of whole family involvement has been developing gradually since the sixties and that it has been conclusively found to be more helpful than just seeing one or two family members separately. Mrs. McLeod said she had seen something about it on TV.
Mr. McLeod was clearly still doubtful and suggested that I was not focusing sufficiently on jimmy’s “mental problem.” He asked “with respect” what were my professional qualifications? I indicated my B.A. and Master’s degrees on the wall near him and my certificate of professional registration.1
I also told him that I had seven years experience with this agency, and that consultation with senior staff was always available to me.
Mr. McLeod said he guessed he couldn’t argue with all that. I said that as we worked together, I would rely on him and all the family members to speak up about what they didn’t understand or found unhelpful. It was important that we worked together honestly and openly to find a way to resolve their difficulties.
They agreed to a family appointment two weeks from today.
This example case was adapted from — Hancock, M. R., & Millar, K. I. (1993). Cases for intervention planning: A source book. Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.
I This may vary in different jurisdictions, i.e. certification or licentiate in professional state, provincial or national association or college.
Tasks for Evaluation
Mr. McLeod expresses his gratitude for our assistance. He’s always suspected Jimmy had a mental problem, and he’s hoping now that we can locate a doctor who understands “mental deficiency” and can help them obtain the care Jimmy requires. Mr. McLeod discreetly adds, as Jimmy is out of earshot, that Jimmy should be in a “special home for youngsters like that.”
Because Jimmy’s problems were plainly hurting everyone, I emphasized that our service plan would include the entire family. This has been discovered to be the most efficient method of assisting families. All members of the family can be enlisted to work together through family interviews.