Family System


23 Mar 2015

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Identifying Information:

  Mr. Gil Buckman is 35 year-old European American Man. He is Married with 3 Children living in the home. The Buckman's are expecting a baby in February. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Presenting or Identified Problem:

  Mr. Buckman is seeking services to help strengthen his family system. His primary concern is that his son Kevin age 9 is having difficulty in school and suffering from an emotional disturbance. Mr. Buckman feels Kevin's struggles are a direct result of his parenting skills. Mr. Buckman is also struggling with a decision that must be made regarding his career. He wants to ensure his family stability but making partner may cost him time with his family. He would like to find another job but with a baby on the way he does not feel this is an option. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Medical History:

  There are no known health risks. The Buckman family appears to be quite healthy.

However, Gil reports that his father drinks quite heavily, mostly on special occasions and might possibly be an alcoholic. Kevin is seeing a psychiatrist for his emotional needs. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Immediate Family System:

  The Buckman Home consists of the Client Gil Buckman, his wife Karen Buckman, and their 3 children Kevin, Taylor, and Justin. Karen is a 34 year-old, European American mother to Kevin age 9, Taylor Age 6, and Justin age 3. She is also expecting a baby. All of the children are the biological offspring of Gil and Karen and share their Ethnicity.

The Spousal Subsystem

Gil and Karen have difficulty communicating at times. Gil resents Karen for not telling him about the pregnancy sooner. Karen thinks Gil is blaming her for getting pregnant. "Women have choices, Men have responsibility." They maintain a healthy sex life and mutual belief systems. (Pellebon, 2009)

Sibling Subsystem:

Kevin Taylor and Justin have petty arguments and antagonize each other. Kevin resents having to care for his younger siblings and often replies "why do I have to do everything?" when asked to help his siblings. (Pellebon, 2009)

Parent/Child Subsystem:

Gil is a doting father. He tries to rectify his own relationship with his father by being a better parent. He communicates well with his kids, keeping an open dialogue. He has a very macho type relationship with Kevin, while he is more nurturing with his daughter Taylor. Karen admits that they were more overprotective with Kevin when he was younger and less anxious with Justin. (Pellebon, 2009)

Parent/Grandparent Subsystem:

Gil and his father have a strained relationship. Gill is bitter that his father was neglectful. Frank realizes he has made mistakes and is reaching out to Gil. Frank also feels his son is a better father than he was. Recently he's been learning to communicate with Gil. He previously was more partial to Larry. (Pellebon, 2009)

Extended Family System not in home:

  Mr. Buckman's Grandmother age 88 lives with his Parents Frank age 64 and Marilyn age 63. Grandma has been uprooted since the visit of Frank and Marilyn's youngest son Larry and his son Cool. The Buckman's are of European American Descent. Cool Buckman is bi-racial. His ethnicity is both European and African American. Gil has an older sister Helen, who is a single mom to Julie and Gary. He has a younger sister Susan who is married to Nathan and they have a daughter named Patty. The youngest sibling discussed earlier is Larry.

The Buckman family is enmeshed with open dialogue. Family roles are clear with the occasional diffuse boundary. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Peer Relationships and Impairment:

  Mr. Buckman is deeply rooted in his family. They have limited community involvement, Gil coaches his son's little league and Karen babysits children in the neighborhood. He has strained work relationships due to his lack of socializing in order to be with his family. His work and family responsibilities don't allow much free time for social networking. This can cause a deficit in support systems. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Environmental Factors:

  Gil works outside the home. Karen stays home with the children. They live in a two story suburban home located in a very clean middle- class neighborhood. The home is modern and well furnished. Little financial struggle yet maintain a moderate budget. Gil and Karen seemed very chaotically connected to Gil's family. They get along with their neighbors and the community. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Educational/ Vocational/ Employment History and Impairment:

  Mr. Buckman chose to college instead of taking over his father's business. He works in financial firm. His need to help his son is taking away from his ability to perform well in employment (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Legal History:

    Mr. Buckman does not have a criminal record nor has he sought legal services or been sued. His younger brother has a gambling addiction and has been involved with illegal racketeering. His niece Julie was arrested for panhandling. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)


   Gil Buckman sought services to help with his son, so he and his immediate family would be the Client System. However the extended Buckman Family are so enmeshed that it is hard to separate them. Therefore we will consider them to be a Target System. There is a tremendous transference of intrinsic and extrinsic energy between these two systems. Extrinsically, they spend a great deal of time with each other, helping with family events and combining resources such as serving dishes. Also they share in the responsibility of caring for Grandma. Intrinsically, their emotional responses add to the support the family provides. There are few boundaries in what is acceptable conversation. (Pellebon, 2009)

The School and Child Psychologist would be the Action System in helping with Kevin's emotional needs. However it is met with resistance from Gil, who fears the stigma of special education and feels responsible for causing the tension. He believes he has the potential energy to solve the problems within his own family subsystem. His intrinsic attempts to be there for him emotionally and mentally have proved futile. So he moved toward a more extrinsic approach by spending money on a psychiatrist and spending time coaching his son's baseball team. At this point Mr. Buckman feels he has exhausted these resources and seeks services elsewhere. (Pellebon, 2009)

Special Circumstances:

  The Buckman family has no religious affiliation. There are also no known physical or mental health problems. There appears to be a great deal of tension within the family and Kevin suffers from an emotional disturbance. Frank Buckman has been known to abuse alcohol. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Life Area Impairments:

  Gil feels his fathers drinking causes some embarrassment at weddings and family fucntions. However no one has intervened. They make light of it and go on. Kevin's emotional issues have put a great deal of added pressure on the family. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Functioning:

   Gil is college educated and quite intelligent. Has strong cognitive abilities but does not handle stress or tension well. He becomes very irritable and irrational. He raises his voice to his family and uses a negative tone. He does not have much confidence in his parenting skills as he has resentment toward his own father. Mr. Buckman is generally content except when dealing with family or work. He tries to be nonchalant until he feels his ability to handle responsibilities is threatened. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Positive Reinforcement:

Frank knows Larry is gambling and gives him money to help covering his losses. He is reinforcing the behavior to gamble; even when Larry loses he is rewarded with more money from his father. (Pellebon, 2009)

Negative Reinforcement:

Nathan did not allow Patty to attend preschool and limited her time with Gil's kids. He believed that removing these social influences would increase her ability to learn and maintain her extreme intelligence. (Pellebon, 2009)

Positive Punishment:

Grandma notices Gil is tense and arguing with Karen. So she tells a story of her first roller coaster ride using it as metaphor for life. She in a sense scolds Gil for getting upset hoping to stop his ranting. (Pellebon, 2009)

Negative Punishment:

The family shares extrinsically, giving and combining resources but when Larry comes for a visit they are guarded with their money. They believe withholding money from Larry will stop his erratic spending behavior. (Pellebon, 2009)

Respondent Conditioning:

Gil felt abandoned by Frank. Frank would take him to a baseball game every year and leave him with an usher leaving him feeling abandoned by his Dad. Even as an adult baseball games trigger sad memories and feelings of abandonment. (Ashford, LeCroy, & Lortie, 2006)


The Buckman family learns to bond and communicate by the routine of tucking the children into bed every night. Saying goodnight and I love every night creates a habit of showing care and affection. (Ashford, LeCroy, & Lortie, 2006)


Gil spends time with his kids and communicates with them in order to model good parenting skills. He hopes that by being a good parent that his kids will grow up to be good parents. He was not aware that his father was also observing and learning to be a better parent. (Ashford, LeCroy, & Lortie, 2006)

Vicarious Learning:

Karen learns that her sister-in-law Susan would give her husband Nathan oral sex in the car when he would get tense. Later when in the car with Gil when he is tense she attempts to calm him down in the same manner. (Pellebon, 2009)

Strengths and Weakness:

  Gil Buckman is very motivated to make a positive impact on his family. He doesn't cope well with stress. However he is eager to implement change in his life. He lacks self control yet he is resourceful and goal oriented. He is assertive, and willing to preserve in order to meet the needs of his family. Mr. Buckman gets along well with others, yet has limited ties to his community. What little involvement he has is positive, he has effect peer relationships. (Grazer & Howard, 1989)

Multidimensional Assessment:

Mr. Buckman has the capabilities to utilize resources provided to him. He has adequate means to meet the needs of his family. His readiness to implement change will assist him in his preparation to care for Kevin's emotional problems.




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