Case study: Susan
Susan, who is married to Ted, is now a single mother of their two young sons, Justin and Matthew.
The mindset of Susan is a sense of abandonment, confusion, and uncertainty of how she will be able to financially take care of the household after Ted left the family.
· Susan drops out of school and relies on Ted for financial stability while pregnant with their first child, Justin
· Ted abuses drugs and alcohol
· Susan is both physically and sexually abused by Ted during her pregnancy
· Justin is born with many health problems
· Ted leaves family leaving Susan to rely on her parents to take care of Justin
· Susan feels she needs to be like her mom and be the “good wife” despite Ted’s abuse
· Susan doesn’t talk about their financial and emotional issues with her husband, and is afraid of his reaction
Ø Subproblem: The varying of emotions Susan face daily and how she may or may not cope with them
· Susan finds work after Ted abandons her and their son Justin, and again with their second child, Matthew
· Susan continues to take care of her sons that have health problems and with special needs
· Susan makes a list of the issues she faces
· Susan is patient with her husband despite all that he puts her through
The Problem-Solving process:
· As Susan’s case worker, I would help her identify her strengths through the problems she’s facing. I would assure her that she is doing a good job maintaining a household despite the struggles she has with Ted, financial burdens, and her sons’ poor health. I would encourage her to continue writing that list of issues, but to also keep a journal. The journal will allow Susan to express her feelings about herself, her relationship with Ted, her being a mom, her ideals of being “the good wife,” or anything she wants to express. I believe this will allow Susan to not only identify the problems, but deal with the emotions that follow. It will also help build her confidence as a mother, and empower her to recognize her inner-strengths.
· I’d recommend substance abuse counseling and anger management for Ted if he decides to return to the family. This will depend if Susan wants to work things out with her husband. If Susan feels threatened by Ted’s abusive behavior, I’d refer her to a domestic abuse organization that help battered women.
· I would ask Susan about her living environment, the community in which she lives in. Does she like it? Does she have neighbors? Does the community have local resources to help Susan in job development, childcare, or housing? Environment plays a role in how clients cope with personal problems. It can be supportive or detrimental.
· I would work with the physicians and healthcare facilities where her sons go for treatment to see if there are ways they can be better helped. I’d like to know their conditions, what medicines they’re taking, if any, or whether Susan has insurance to cover their medical expenses. I’d like to know if Susan is going to the doctor too. If not, I’d make referrals. This will be for both physical and mental health.
· Depending on Susan’s living environment, I’d like to know the public health concerns her community is facing. This may contribute to some of the health problems her sons are having, particularly Justin. Justin has difficulty breathing. I’d like to know the nature of air quality in her neighborhood, and who is overseeing these communal health problems, if any.
· I would work as a liaison with medical professionals, public health officials, and other human service professionals to help Susan cope with these complex problems.
· Through this process, I would assess her strengths and weaknesses and revise them as we move forward. We would work together to help Susan and her family live better lives.
I like doing these kinds of assignments. Maybe someday I will have an opportunity to help a client like Susan. I wonder at times how I'd assess myself.
When I am not doing school work (which is what I do most of the time), I am searching for part-time work, or working on my book. I make it a priority to go to the waterfront or hang out with friends at least once a week. I force myself to do this to avoid burnout. I reflect a lot, which helps me put things in perspective. It's been hard lately dealing with family health woes, housing issues, and being financially poor. Despite my efforts in staying positive, it hits home. Sometimes I don't know the way or the path to take to improve these circumstances. I just don't like how it makes me feel when I can't take care of responsibilities.
I'm probably feeling this way, because this month makes two years I've been out of work. I am not happy about this, and tried to avoid this from happening. I guess everything happens for a reason. I will not complain, because I still have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a bed to sleep on. It could be worse. This experience has been humbling, and I had to swallow my pride more times than I can count. I am a proud person and don't like asking for help, especially help in personal matters. However, I'm learning that humbling self makes a difference. I am not the only one going through tough times. We have to remain strong and help one another. No one is better than anyone. We are all on this journey called life together.
My goal for this month is to continue to stand tall no matter what happens. It's getting harder, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I will be strong and ride through this storm. After all the sun is always near.