Counseling Across Cultures Case Study
Case Study of Donna Little –
Donna Little is a 39-year-old Indian woman who has a history of substance misuse and has struggled with reunification with her adolescent children over the last 6 years. She was in residential school from the age of 6 to 16 years old. She has a history of domestic violence in her previous relationships. Donna was the youngest of four children in her family. Her parents, siblings, and herself were raised in the same small northern reservation. Both her parents had gone to residential school in the early 1950s, as did her grandfathers and grandmothers on both sides of her family system in the late 1910s. Donna was raised in an environment of violence and mayhem in her early childhood, which she has talked about quite extensively in counseling. Although her parents abused alcohol, she emphasizes repeatedly that her family was quite ceremonial and participated in the big drum feast and singing within the community. When Donna was 6, an Indian agent wearing a red, white, and black checkered jacket gave her candy and took her to the residential school. She never had the opportunity to say good-bye to her mom and dad, who died of tuberculosis while she was in the residential school. Donna reflects on her residential school experience with a despondent look. While in the residential school, she had only one friend she could count on. Her siblings, who were also at the school, were older and thus not allowed to play with her or sleep near her at the residence dorms. This created an incredible loneliness that Donna did not know how to fill, and often she would use alcohol to help numb that pain. She did not like to drink, but it helped her to stop her thinking badly about the past. Donna was a victim of sexual abuse in the residential school, primarily by the Roman Catholic priest who was in charge. The first time she was assaulted she was 7; the last assault occurred right before she ran away at age 16. When Donna had attempted to tell the head nun in charge of her dorm what was happening to her, she was beaten severely, to the point of unconsciousness. Donna recalls it was her friend, Sue, who nursed her back to health. Donna describes her life as difficult. She went home to her community, only to find a partner who turned out to be as violent toward her as her father was to her mother. She loves her children and cares for them deeply. She breast-fed her three children and still today can feel that connection to them. When her children were taken from her home after the last time her husband beat her, she spiraled out of control. Donna has had long periods of abstinence, has a home in her community that is well cared for, and now has a partner who loves her deeply. Donna is on welfare but hunts and fishes to help with sustenance. Donna and her partner have been together for 10 years, however, they both misuse alcohol on occasion. Donna’s present partner is nonviolent and a former residential school survivor as well.
Counseling Across Cultures (Kindle Locations 3850-3871). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
- What is the culturally relevant history a therapist needs to understand when working with a client such as Donna?
- What are some of the culturally relevant techniques a therapist can use when working with Native-American clients who have been abused by people in positions of power?
- How might Donna’s therapist help her to reconnect with her family in a manner that promotes wellness for everyone?
Case Study of Simon Ho – Chapter 6
Simon Ho is a 19-year-old Chinese American sophomore attending a midwestern university. He has a good academic record, with a 3.25 grade point average, but he is having difficulty understanding various concepts in his advanced chemistry class. With a big exam approaching, Simon is not only increasingly worried but also experiencing headaches and stomach troubles. Fearing the possibility of failing the exam and disappointing his family, Simon decides to seek assistance from his chemistry professor. Upon approaching the professor, he is greeted happily and courteously. His professor spends more than an hour with him, reviewing some of the material for the exam. After this review, Simon feels a bit more confident about his understanding of the concepts. Unfortunately, Simon receives a D on the exam. Disappointed by his poor performance, he begins to skip class to avoid his professor and never seeks his professor’s assistance again.
Counseling Across Cultures (Kindle Locations 4609-4615). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
- Why does Simon not ask his professor for further assistance or guidance?
- How might Simon’s cultural context help to explain his headaches and stomach troubles?
- What other cultural factors could also account for Simon’s experience?