Discussion Questions (Critical Incident p. 377)
- Jeanette’s presenting concerns emerge at the nexus of several poverty- and racism-related factors. How would you describe the influence of these systemic forms of oppression in her life and in her presenting concerns?
- Poverty is often described as a damaging system that perpetuates itself (e.g., “the poor get poorer”). How might this have been the case for Jeanette?
- A primary element within Jeanette’s history is the childhood abuse that appears to have triggered a pattern of withdrawal, depression, and avoidance of emotions via substance abuse. How has the impact of the trauma been exacerbated by the poverty that Jeanette’s family faces?
- To supplement her husband’s sporadic wages, Jeanette and her husband receive support from their church—though this faith-based support feels tenuous, as Jeanette worries that it may be revoked if word of her daughter’s sexual orientation reaches members of the conservative church leadership. How do oppression-related issues intersect in this element of Jeannette’s story? How do they contribute to Jeanette’s lack of connection to others?
- If you were a professional employed as Jeanette’s counselor, you might or might not share a number of social identities with your client with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth. You would not, however, be likely to share her identity as a person currently living in poverty. What are your thoughts about how the correspondence of these identities (or the lack thereof) between you and your client would affect the treatment? How would you incorporate your understanding of these issues within your work with Jeanette?
- How might this case and resultant therapeutic interventions proceed differently if Jeanette were an upper-middle-class woman who lives in the Northeast?