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Introduction to Case Study
Erica (age 30 years) has contacted a local community centre. Erica says she lives with her partner James (Jim) and two children Jemima (13) and Isaac (4). Jim works full time in the building industry and the family relocated from interstate 8 months ago so he could take up a better paid job on the recommendation of a friend who was already living here. All of their extended family are back in their home town.
A couple of months ago, Jim was charged by the police for driving under the influence of alcohol and now his driver’s licence has been suspended for 12 months following a court appearance. Erica said she has found out Jim has been having problems at work. They can’t afford for him to lose his job and he has been spending a lot of the family budget going out and drinking with friends on the weekends. Erica has a background working in retail and administration, but hasn’t been working for some time as she wanted to settle the kids in after the move and now Jemima has just changed schools again and Isaac has started pre-school.
She has noticed Jim is often frustrated with the kids and things are tense at home. Erica said she didn’t really want to tell anyone about their problems, but she spoke to her neighbour about what has been happening when they noticed she looked down and said they had heard her arguing again with Jim last night. They gave her the name of the Centre and said they had used this service when they needed help and found it useful.
You have now seen Erica on 3 occasions. She tells you her cultural background is Aboriginal. She begins to open up about the problems in her relationship with Jim, and her worries about the impact of this on her children. Erica explains that Jemima is from a previous relationship and that her previous partner was very violent towards her so she left him when Jemima was around 3 years of age and they have not had contact with him at all in the past six years. Erica is worried because she can see signs that Jim is becoming increasingly angry and frustrated with her.
Erica describes Jemima as a sensitive child. Erica also tells you that Jim is very harsh on Jemima, yelling at her often, sending her to her room and seems to favour Isaac. Erica has spoken to Jim about this but he always responds by telling her she is ‘crazy’ and that Jemima needs to ‘grow up’. Erica tells you that Jemima has recently become very withdrawn.
Consider everything you have learnt about Erica and her family to date. Critically examine how systems/ecological approaches be applied to understand the circumstances of Erica and her family. How could these theories guide your practice in this case?
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