Assessment of the Hispanic Family Culture – Social Work Project

Assessment of the Hispanic Family Culture – Social Work Project

Assessment of the Hernandez Family

Family assessment involves the collection of vital information about family members in counseling. In family therapy, assessment is fundamentally essential for the establishment of the best treatment process for the clients. Assessment enables the therapist to identify the clients’ expectations in therapy for the implementation of changes and engagement in negotiations for the development of a viable contract. Mustaffa et al. (2013) describe the lack of assessment in family therapy as “a car trip without a map” due to its critical role in information gathering. A family can be defined as a collection of diverse characters and personalities, which turns therapy into a complex process due to the required collaboration. In the Hernandez family assessment, the main issues facing the parents with the Administration for Children Services (ACS) is the harsh punishment of their two sons, which is an inherited act that is likely to cause misery for the minors. Juan and Elena Hernandez also have personality differences and diverse roles in their family as dictated by the Hispanic culture.

Demographic Information

  • Parents: Juan Hernandez (27-year-old Hispanic Father) and Elena Hernandez (25-year-old Latino Mother)
  • Children: Junior (Eight-year-old) and Alberto (Six-year-old)

Presenting Problem

Juan and Elena Hernandez have been subjected to the family assessment by a social worker as ordered by the Administration for Children Services (ACS). The main issue is the harsh disciplinary actions taken by the parents against their sons, which requires improvement through effective parenting classes. The working-class family is of low socioeconomic status, which means that both parents have to work hard to support the family. According to Theunissen et al. (2015), good parenting facilitates the health, wellbeing, and development of children. The two sons are also in a critical time in their growth and development, whereby they must make mistakes as they continue to learn more about their culture and life, which means that the parents should use punishment as learning experiences, such as the use of privileges as incentives for behavioral change. Juan and Elena also perceive that their children deserve to be punished for wrongdoing in the same way they did in their childhood.

History or Present Illness

Through the social worker, the Administration for Children Services (ACS) is concerned about the impacts of the severe punishment subjected to the two sons by their parents, which amounts to child endangerment and can easily ruin the children’s future due to emotional or mental distress. Juan and Elena perceive themselves as perfect parents who provide everything for their children and always act for benefit of their kids, including the use of strict punishment to alleviate or eliminate undesirable behaviors. ACS has ordered the Hernandez family assessment due to the concerns about the children’s safety (Plummer et al., 2014). However, it is evident that strict punishment is part of the Hispanic culture and both parents view the act of disciplining a child as necessary in the context of their childhood.

Past Psychiatric History

No records are available. Needs to be added to.

Medical history

Elena is diabetic, whereas Juan suffers from back issues resulting from loading and unloading work experiences.

Substance Use History

Both Juan and Elena drink socially in the company of family and friends, though Juan takes six to eight beers in his weekend outings with friends. However, both deny any use of drugs. Elena drinks occasionally.

Developmental History

Juan and Elena were brought up in the Hispanic culture that approves strict punishment of children as part of the culture. On the other hand, Juan is the first-born in his family, whereas Elena is a lastborn but both were subjected to harsh punishments in their childhood, which may have caused the current parenting issues. Nevertheless, their two sons have undergone normal development.

Family Psychiatric History

No records are available. Needs to be added to.

Psychosocial History

The Hernandez family is faced with a low socioeconomic status, which forces Juan to work overtime for the satisfaction of financial needs. Questions may be raised about the impacts of Juan’s working schedule on his parenting style. However, more information is required about the family’s social relationships. Juan has an expunged history of juvenile arrest for petty theft whereas Elena has no criminal history.

History of Abuse and/or Trauma

Both Juan and Elena Hernandez have shared their traumatic childhood experiences regarding punishment, which was a tolerated practice in their culture. The parenting class grants Juan and Elena the perfect of sharing their past experiences as a way of creating awareness about the impacts of severe punishment on children’s health and wellbeing. Juan states that when his father got mad, he used to send him to get books from the encyclopedia before forcing him to hold them “until his arms felt like they would break off”. According to Juan, this experience caused so much pain, and evidently, he underwent the trauma several times. The worrying case is that Juan’s mother also subjected him to a similar punishment that was sometimes harsher as determined by her level of anger. For instance, Juan states that his mother used to “make me get more books than my dad”, and thus, he had nowhere to run for safety. Juan ended up hating the books passionately, probably influencing his concentration on education due to the fear of self-studying. The site of those books triggered misery due to the effects of the punishment on emotional and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, Juan admits that he inherited the punitive strategies from his parents, which is a clear indication that his sons are silently suffering. On the other hand, Elena desists from sharing details about her traumatic experiences but she indicates having gone through similar misery as Juan, which means that her trauma may have been worse. The experiences of the two sons have not been presented.

Review of Systems

In this case, cultural competence is essential for the therapist and ACS worker since the clients are immigrants from a different culture. More information needs to be added.

Physical Assessment

Juan, Elena, and their two sons appear to be in good physique without visible injuries or deformity (Plummer et al., 2014). The children’s play correlates with their age and stages of development.

Mental Status Exam

Juan is extremely worried about family finances due to the interruption brought by the parenting classes (Plummer et al., 2014). The family seems to face financial management issues, probably due to Juan’s weekend outings with his friends. According to Juan Hernandez, the forced attendance of family and parenting sessions trigger anger and resentment, which forces him to either remain silent during sessions or speak in a demeaning manner to the social worker. Both Elena and Juan express their love for their children and the fear of losing them to the Child Protective Services. Elena is collaborative with the social worker but fears for the family’s privacy and the loss of her children.

Differential Diagnosis

  • Personality disorder
  • Stress
  • Post-traumatic disorder (PTSD)
  • Difficulties in acculturation
  • Poor parent-child relationships

According to the case study, the social worker had sufficient evidence that triggers the family assessment order and the subsequent parenting sessions. Juan’s and Elena’s upbringing were traumatic and this has affected their parenting skills due to acculturation, whereby they perceive punishment as necessary without considering the changing times where children’s rights are protected. Juan loves his wife and kids but he has a personality disorder, whereby he perceives his culture as superior and disregards the benefits of the positive parenting sessions in the improving of his childrearing skills (Plummer et al., 2014). Juan’s childhood trauma has haunted him into adulthood and parenthood, which passes the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM) criteria regarding PTSD (Marty & Segal, 2014). The two sons suffer from anxiety due to different fears emanating from their parents, such as the fear of punishment and payment of bills, whereas they miss out on spending more time with their father due to his overtime work and weekend outings (Plummer et al., 2014). Due to personal beliefs and culture, both Elena and Juan may have indifferent relationships with their sons. All the four members of the Hernandez family seem to be stressed by the danger of separation, financial status, and strict punishment resulting from undesirable behavior, and the uncertainty of the future as immigrants.

Case Formulation

The Hernandez family was referred for family assessment and positive parenting classes by an ACS worker due to the extreme punishment subjected to their two sons. The therapist seeks to establish a cordial working relationship with the clients through the collection of information and deployment of the best treatment interventions. Elena and Juan have inherited their strict punishment from their culture and childhood lives, which endangers their children. Evidently, they both suffer from past wounds and their current socioeconomic status is stressful due to poor financial management.

Treatment Plan

The primary aim of the therapist is to create awareness in the client regarding the illegality of the severe punishment, in addition to the identification of underlying causes of the strict punishment, such as past trauma and culture. Structural family therapy (SFT) can be effective since it focuses on the family, the presentation of the issue(s), and the implementation of a change process for the improvement of the wellbeing of the family members (Evans et al., 2012). In this case, Juan and Elena have opportunities for eliminating past trauma and establishing their children’s anxieties. On the other hand, SFT and the positive parenting sessions will improve the couple’s parenting skins by eliminating their ungrounded perceptions for the elimination of child endangerment through the evaluation of less-severe punishment. According to Varghese et al. (2020), family therapy seeks to alleviate stress and conflict through the improvement of interactions among family members, which fits our case study.