Case Study Questions


Zuri is a 15-year-old Black female who lives in the inner city. She is estranged from her father, and her older brother recently moved in with his girlfriend’s family. Her mother maintains employment despite her struggles with substance addiction. There is no family car, and much of the time they do not have enough money to get by. Essentially, Zuri is the primary caretaker of her younger brother and, many times, her mother. Zuri works very hard in school and dreams of being a school teacher. She does not want to drink or use drugs, but sometimes she is so overwhelmed. With no other options, she turns to food and then feels huge and horrible. Even though she maintains a healthy weight, she is ashamed of her body.

Zuri imagines no one will offer her help. No one thinks Black girls have issues with food or eating disorders. She also noticed that her school seems very concerned with how fat the students are. They have been weighing students and making them do jumping jacks every morning. She is pretty sure they are in some sort of school-wide obesity program, which only makes her more self-conscious. Zuri wonders why no one ever talks to students about the other stuff she sees on television like eating disorders, anxiety, depression, even problems studying. She knows these things affect students at her school too. It makes her wonder what else they are missing.

The truth is Zuri and her friends need support. A lot of her friends have been experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Some use regularly. Others have even dropped out of school. She has one good friend who is pregnant. She has recently started hanging out with a boy from school. He is “sort of” her boyfriend. He frequently drops by the house uninvited. He tells Zuri he thinks she is really pretty. He tells her how sexy it is that she is thin like Rihanna the singer. This makes Zuri feel very self-conscious and she feels herself trying to dress sexy for him, even though she is not really “feeling it.” He watches Zuri take care of her brother and always tells her what a good mom she would be. She gets stressed when he stays too long because she really likes him, but she has tons of homework and he is not interested in studying. They have been becoming increasingly more physical in their relationship. Zuri loves the attention and it feels nice to be held. Her grades have been slipping a bit. She worries about sex. She learned “some stuff” in health class, but not how can she get birth control. And what about sexually transmitted infections? She likes her boyfriend but knows he has been with other girls. She does not know what to do and she feels as if she does not have many options. Zuri knows if her mom or older brother find out about any of this, it will not be good.


  1. What are Zuri’s unique issues emerging from the intersection of her social identities?
  2. What sociocultural pressures are affecting Zuri? What familial dynamics or stressors serve as barriers, and how do they align with sociocultural pressures?
  3. How can SCT and feminist identity theory be applied to Zuri?
  4. What resources and supports might help Zuri?
  5. As a mental health professional, what opportunities could you provide for Zuri?