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Family Therapy Process

Opening Phase: Intake Session


Maria arrived 15 minutes early for her appointment and brought Britney and Mark Jr. as planned. Mark Jr. sucked his thumb during the interview. Britney was also quiet and appeared to believe she was being punished. In the intake interview, Maria spoke of her financial fears, frustrations with parenting, and sense of alienation from her parish and family. The interview was scheduled for a longer period than is typically allotted for European American client families. This additional time allows the therapists to enact the cultural value of personalismo (i.e., a warm, empathetic social orientation) that can enhance treatment engagement (Evans et al., 2007; Falicov, 2009). To promote personalismo, the therapists took additional time to engage in la platica (i.e., small talk) with family members at the start of each session (Interian & Diaz-Martinez, 2007).


Rather than initiate the therapeutic process with a long series of probing questions, Mrs. Mesa and Sister Benedict decided to lead off with art-making. They started the art-making

Maria's Genogram

Figure 13.1. Maria's Genogram

process by introducing the material with a warm-up drawing (i.e., individual free drawing). The second and third drawings focused specifically on the problems and resolutions identified by each family member. The following were the assignments given for each of the tasks:

• "Make an individual free drawing of anything that comes to mind."

• "Make an individual drawing of why you think you are here."

• "Make an individual drawing on how you would like the 'problem' to change."

• "At this time we will review the drawings you have made."

Through these tasks and a few supplemental questions, Mrs. Mesa and Sister Benedict were able to build the clinical background needed for effective case conceptualization and treatment planning.

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