Social Worker/Counselor Role

Social Worker/Counselor Role: Student counselor interning in an outpatient therapy clinic (using Narrative Therapy)

Client Role: Melinda (32-year-old Hispanic female, mom, and partner)

Melinda is the mother of three small children (4-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl, and infant girl). She is of Mexican descent, was born in the United States, and has never lived anywhere else. She considers herself to be a first generation American, despite having both parents who consider themselves to be Mexican.

She became involved with a man she calls “Jon,” but whose actual name is Juan. Jon is originally from Argentina but had been living in the United States for over five years. She met Jon when he first came to the United States to visit his mother, who lives in the United States and is a citizen. Jon liked it here, so he remained in the country illegally. He said he was crazy about Melinda and wanted to marry her. She knew that Jon was “not good for her,” and she really did not want him to be her life partner; however, she felt sorry for him and believes that all people should have a right to live in the United States. She adamantly believes in democracy, equal rights for all, and freedom. However, at the time, she was pregnant with their first child. Yet, she did not marry him, but rather cohabitated, as they lived in fear of his deportation.

When their first child was born, Melinda became more disenchanted than before with the idea of being married to Jon. She tried her best to set up a positive household and family life, but because of her lack of true loving feelings for Jon, he became more neglected in the household. At the same time, Melinda found that she adored her role as mother to their child. However, as the dynamic of loving mother and neglected “husband” became stronger, Jon became more verbally aggressive. They fought often, usually because Melinda refused to marry him. She became pregnant for a second time, and the verbal abuse from Jon accelerated.

After there was a son and a daughter in the family, Jon was determined that their son be raised “macho,” and he did not really seem to care about his daughter. If their son cried, he would take him into the bedroom, and Melinda could hear Jon yelling at him and then their son crying even more, until it stopped. She would try to intervene, but Jon would become more verbally aggressive with her, and more controlling with the children. Jon told her that if she would just marry him, “all of this fighting would stop.”

Jon did not speak English very well and could not write in English. Without being a citizen, he could not work legally in the United States, so he spent much time at home. Melinda had a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant at an independent living facility for older adults. She was also going to school full time to get her nursing degree. The children were often left in Jon’s care. At times, she saw him as a “good father,” but mostly she felt sorry for him, and she was extremely concerned about his aggressive behaviors.

Melinda wondered if Jon really loved her, or just wanted to marry her so he would not get deported. In a way, this question did not worry Melinda, because she could not see him as her life partner anyway and knew that eventually he would be deported if she did not marry him. This would be an easy “out” for this relationship, but she felt it would be cruel as well. She was conflicted about what to do. In the meantime, their third child was born, and she was thrilled to have another little girl, but she was even more conflicted about her relationship with Jon.

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