Introduction to family studies- case study Essay

The following are some questions which I would personally consider asking Jackie in order to analyse the family situation;

• Ask since when has she been noticing such change in her daughter, to see if this has been going on for a while cause if it happened recently this could mean that it’s just a phase, given that she’s just thirteen years old.

• Ask if there is a history of mental illness in the family, as this could be the case with her daughter and not just a phase of behavioural problems.

• What kind of support she and her husband are giving her; to see if she has the required support system at home

• What kind of advice and support she was offered from Appogg- so that she can have the appropriate means to help her daughter.

• What kind of relationship the family members have with eachother and currently have with Shania, to check if this is related; as for instance if Shania is being maltreated, misunderstood or has an overall toxic relationship with her family, then this can be the cause for her behaviour.

• One should check if Shania has any friends; and if she does, what kind of friends they are. Friends might be the biggest influence on Shania’s behaviour.

Life cycle challenges

As a child starts growing up and becoming an adolscent, there will most likely be some challenges that the parents will have to face and overcome. The child and parents will face different changes because they are in different stages in their life, such as the following challenges.

Change in Behavior and Friends:

Young adoloscents may opt in trying different activities and making new friends who may be different than them. Some parents fear that such friends may not be a good influence on their child and therefore will end up making bad choices. No parent would want their child involving themselves with the “bad crowd”.

A change in behaviour can also mean that as they grow they are becoming more independent, which means that they will try and explore as much as they can. It is important for parents to allow them to be independent whilst also reminding them to always make good and beneficial decisions.

Emotional changes:

Although anybody can go through emotional changes in their life, this is extremely common in adoloscents as they’re growing. They get to experience new things which come along during their teenage years. Different youths handle emotions in very different ways and thus some may become very sensitive. During this period in their life they will be exploring who they really are which means that they might encounter changes towards how they look at things and people.

Body changes and issues:

Body issues are very common amongst teenagers. While it also occurs in males, the rate is higher in females and they will have different problems. For instance",once a young girl starts developing a chest, she may start feeling shy and feel different towards her own body. Some males may think that they are not as gifted as their friends and isolate themselves or feel as if they’re in a competition.

Examples of body issues include overweight or very slim children feeling isolated or left out due to possible lack of popularity towards their peers, especially those of opposite sex.

Something which occurs often during a youth’s teenage years is the problem of eating disorders. Although this is also a challenge which parents may face they must keep in mind that an eating disorder is also a challenge for their child and they should ensure that they are living a healthy lifestyle.


Another challenge which some parents may face is their children self-harming and being sucidal, like Shania. It is very important for the parents to bear in mind that this is an even bigger challenge for Shania herself. Some may ask, why do kids do this? For many young people and teenagers this can be considered as a way of coping with their stress or even to deal with body issues. Sometimes it can be done as an experiment, a dare or maybe even for the wrong kind of attention. Sometimes it may even be a result of a suicide attempt, thus Shania’s parents need to keep an eye on their child and offer her help, not scold her as she must be understood.


As time evolves, so does technology. Nowadays technology is becoming more common and it was something that most current parents didn’t have to deal with. However, every teenager seems to have the latest mobile phones and computers attached to them. Some teenagers seem to spend most of their time on social media; resulting in them abandoning their studies. As parents it is important to acknowledge and understand the progress that technology is making, but most importantly they should always remind their child the dangers of social media.

Sometimes teenagers may spend hours on the computer or chatting on their phone and get defensive whenever this is brought to their attention or asked who they’re talking to and may even throw tantrums. Some teenagers especially young girls tend to become more dramatic during this phase and throw a lot of tantrums.

As mentioned in the case, Shania often throws tantrums and also shuts her mother out whenever she asks her something regarding school.This could mean that she is facing some challenges at school, such as bullying, no friends, lack of understanding during lessons and so on. Jackie should talk with Shania’s school counsellor.

Lack of prioritizing:

Another challenge parents face is having their child not prioritizing their schedule in order to create a balance between their social life",schoolwork and helping out around the house; which is something that Shania doesn’t do, even though it is expected by Jackie.

Disruptive behaviour:

Some parents may notice a disruptive behaviour in their children, such as talking back to their parents, slamming doors, refusing to listen and not obeying their parents, not paying attention at school and dropping grades. Such behaviour is probably the most common challenge faced by parents as young people tend to be influenced by eachother. At such a young age, adoloscent will feel the need to show that they are independent and that they are capable of dealing with things on their own. Some parents may consider this age to be the age of rebellion; not helping the parents, ignoring them, talking back and being overall inappropriate. It’s important to keep in mind that this is likely a phase that will pass over time, as it is something which majority of parents will face. However it is important to always talk to them about such behaviour as this might result in an even worse one as they grow up.


Through the Hypothesis I have done I was able to conclude and find a diagnosis for each family member and what they’re currently going through. For instance, Shania is evidently going through a very rough time and is probably in that phase where she’s developing her own identity.

One psychological theory which in my opinion is relevant to what Shania is going through can be explained through the “Self-determination theory”, where people are actively directed towards growth.

“Self-Determination Theory, or SDT, is a theory that links personality, human motivation, and optimal functioning. It posits that there are two main types of motivation—intrinsic and extrinsic—and that both are powerful forces in shaping who we are and how we behave”(Deci & Ryan, 2008). It also has a lot to say regarding goals and striving for such goals. This theory states that striving for these goals is essentials for one’s satisfaction needs and their well-being.

Once exploring such theory in depth, one learns that people are motivated by both external factors and internal factors. This theory mostly focuses on intrinsic motivation such as the need to gain knowledge and independence, which is something that Shania seems to be doing. However, according to this theory, in order to achieve psychological growth, Shania needs to abide by the following three goals; Competence which is when people need to gain mastery of and learn different tasks, Connection/Relatedness is when people need have the need to experience a sense of belonging as well as attachment to other people, and lastly, Autonomy.

It’s very important to keep in mind that such psychological growth described by said theory doesn’t happen automatically and isn’t simple, as it requires continual sustenance.

Some teenagers like Shania, tend to find themselves being blocked or feeling frustrated whilst going through their development. During such development, one goes through an identity formation phase. During such phase of identity formation it is important that youths not only find a place, but find the right place. Parents must devote a significant amount of time, energy and attention when it comes to assisting their child throughout the phase when they’re exporing new skills and challenges.

Another challenge that Shania is going through is that of ‘Insecurity’, something which is very common",especially in teenagers. Insecurity comes in various forms and aspects and it arises from lack of self-confidence and feeds on individuals who may be considered as having a “weak” character. Some types of insecurities include regretting or doubting choice he/she has made, not being confident or happy with such decisions, not feeling good enough",failing achievements, body image issues and so on. During such phase it’s likely that the bond between a child and her/his parents weakens.

Even though she is probably not doing well at school due to her behaviour, this might be the other way round and is instead acting this way due to her low grades. The issue of her having low grades may also be due to an insecurity or causing her to be insecure. Sometimes, adoloscents and teenagers tend to spend more time on social media in order to escape reality and their insecurities, just like what Shania is doing.

One should also analyse why Shania is self-harming. Some teenagers use self-harm as a coping mechanism, especially when they are feeling very insecure about themselves.

Lastly, Shania may be going through the Industry vs Inferiority phase, which is the fourth phase from Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial stages. According to his theory",people progress through such stages as they go through growth and development. This stage focuses on the socioemotional factors which influence one’s growth. If such skill is successfully achieved, then this leads to a lifelong wellbeing. For instance, the primary task is that of ‘trust’. What happens at this point is that as a child starts going to school, their social world expands, as they start making new friendships and meeting new people. Through these social interactions, children start to develop a sense of pride in their own abilities. Shania may be having a difficulty fitting in with her peers or may be even getting bullied as her brother suspects, which results in asking herself “How can I be good?”. This may conclude in her not achieving the virtue of competence.

As for Jackie, one can say that she may be feeling as if she’s not a good enough parent for Shania and as stated in the text, she is having difficulties finding ways how to help her daughter. Shania’s behaviour seems to be causing a great amount of parenting stress. High levels of such stress may impair responsive parenting and also provoke harsh reactive caregiving. Such stress negatively impacts the relationship between the child and their parent. The stress which is taking over Jackie due to Shania’s behaviour may be making things even worse for them, as such stress may cause Jackie to use negative parenting behaviour such as a controlling behaviour, which seems likely in Jackie as she’s doesn’t seem to be paying attention to her daughter’s needs and wants. However, Jackie needs to understand that Shania is going through different phases whilst becoming independent and developing into a young woman.

Victor on the other hand seems to be avoiding the responsability of a parent and is instead isolating himself. In terms of a psychological aspects, Victor may be feeling burdened with all the chaos that his family is going through and may think that “Avoidance coping” is the way to go. Victor may think that by avoiding stress, he will feel less stressed, but this won’t only effect just him but also those around him. However, due to the fact that Victor is not correcting Shania and is instead ignoring any problem which occur in the house is first and foremost stressing out his wife even more. Secondly, since her father is not correcting her, Shania may get the impression that what she’s doing is perfectly fine. Therefore Victor is not setting a good example to neither of his children and should spend more time with his family. Nonetheless, escaping from reality is never a good idea and should instead be supportive towards his wife.

As for Peter, one can say that he may feel as if he’s having a dilemma. In the sense that he does take interest in family matters and would like to help Shania , but he also tends to avoid spending time at home and instead spends it at University. One can conclude that Peter most likely feels torn between this family conflict, while trying his best to not take sides. He is taking the role of a responsible brother who has his sister’s wellbeing at heart.

The ideal service for this family would be family therapy. Albeit the situation isn’t that extreme, all of them need to co-operate with eachother and support one another as there seems to be a lack of communcation between all of them, mostly from the father and the daughter’s side. On the other hand, Shania needs to speak to a professional psychologist who can help her cope with her insecurities and psychological issues. This will help improve her relationship with Jackie and also aid in her living a better life. Jackie can also get help through a counsellor, which can advise her on how to handle Shania’s behaviour in the most practical manner.

Working with client groups

I think working with this family would be a challenge",yet not a tough one as the issue seems to only revolve around Shania only and anything else seems to be caused by this issue. Although I don’t think this client group is very challenging, I must say this would not be a preferred client group of mine, as I don’t consider family therapy to be one of my preferred areas in the Social Work sector, however it would be ideal for myself to work with children or in the mental health sector. The reason why I prefer these two areas is because first and foremost, the mental heath sector has always interested me and the reason for preferring to work with children is due to the fact that my pre-placement was done with a family fostering a young child.

In conclusion, the key factor in the improvment of this client group would be social support. As Deci and Ryan said, social support is the key as it contributes to solid relationships and strong psychological health. It is this kind of support that builds people up and fills them with strength in order to carry on with their life.


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