Assessing Yellowbird's Family

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At the age of 13 years, Jason Yellowbird has gone through different placement locations, although his life has not improved. He has lived in home of his natural parents, residential treatment center, group emergency home, foster family-based treatment, home of natural parents, youth correction center, group, and run away. Since he entered out-of-home care, he has experienced 10 placement changes, which means he has lived in different environments. Jason Yellowbird can be said to be a troubled teen, and his problems can be traced to his childhood. In family therapy, a counselor would prefer to use a combination of different assessment tools including that looks into the family history of Jason's parents. The following are the most appropriate techniques that would be used to assess this family.

Assessment techniques

The first most likely technique is family interview. Thomlison (2010) argues that family interview technique mainly focuses on family dynamics and the strength of the family. This technique can be effective in collecting data about Yellowbird family because it allows for direct interaction with family members. According to Mair (2004) this would help therapist to note underlying emotional issues that may be difficult to note through other techniques. It also helps to note negative patterns. Family interview technique is important in this case because helps the counselor to be focused on family dynamics and identify family patterns of interaction (Thomlison, 2010). However, the counselor has to ask the right question and use a wide range of techniques. According to Hecker and Wethler (2003) major strengths of this technique compared to others is that it give the counselor a chance to interact directly with the family members allowing room for discussion. In addition, family interview are also considered to be more personal. However, family interview is considered to be a less systematic way of obtaining information. This means that there is a high likelihood of collecting the wrong information if the counselor does not have interviewing guidelines.

The second most appropriate assessment technique to use for the Yellowbird family is the family genogram. An intergenerational family genogram helps in collecting and organizing data along the genealogical lines (Fenell & Weinhold, 2003). This tool helps to collect information about the family in intergenerational and historical lines using symbols that describe the characters of different family members (Thomlison, 2010). Research shows that children are likely to inherit certain traits including behaviors from their parents and therefore a family genogram helps to reveal those traits and behaviors that could be inherited from the family. According to Thomlison (2010) Information about family members and events like births, deaths, miscarriages, adoptions, separations, divorce, education, illnesses, and others can be collected using this technique and they will be valuable in family assessment. This tool will also give information on family issues like alcoholism, corporal punishment, child abuse, adoptions, and others important in current assessment. One of the major limitations in using this technique for the Yellowbird family would be limited information about the family (Hecker & Wethler, 2003). Carol has lived in an institution and brought up by alcoholic and rejecting mother. She divorced with Jason's father early which means she might have little information about his family. On the other hand, Jason's stepfather, Jeff, has lived with grandparents as his mother died when he was a child.

These two techniques have their own strengths and weaknesses. Family interview technique is most appropriate in this case but it is less systematic. On the other hand, a family genogram would help to reveal important information about the family background but its major limitation is lack of concrete information about the family. Considering the two, I feel that family interview would be most appropriate because it gives counselor a chance to work directly with the family.


The following are the main goals of the intervention:

  1. To improve communication in the Yellowbird family for them to understand each other

  2. To help Carol and Jeff understand the way they can help their son to change

  3. To help Jones to change his behaviors and go back to his family

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Assessing Yellowbird's Family

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This article was published on 2012/03/26