To demonstrate competence in applying the Calgary Family Assessment Model (CFAM) to a fictional family.
To demonstrate competence in application of either the Bioecological Model or Hill’s ABC-X theory to a fictional family.
To synthesize the concepts of family assessment and family theory as applied to clinical practice.
To practice academic writing skills.
♦ Case Analysis #2 grading rubric opens in new window
Students will practice family assessment skills and theory application by conducting an assessment of the Grape family as portrayed in the film What’s
Eating Gilbert Grape?.
Please note in this paper there is no section on family health status and we are not using Family Systems Theory.
A note on references: It is very important to use your required Shajani and Snell text as the primary reference for the CFAM and Life Cycle theory. The
Kaakinen text may be more helpful for the Bioecological Model. The assigned reading for Family Stress theory should be used and cited if you choose to
apply this theory in the paper. For this paper, it is permissible to cite the movie just once, when you introduce it. The proper APA-style citation is this:
Hallström, L. (Director). (1993). What’s Eating Gilbert Grape [Film]. Paramount Pictures.
If you do choose to include further in-text citations, the proper format is: Hallström (1993) or (Hallström, 1993)
The following headings mirror the grading rubric. Headings that correspond to the rubric are recommended in your paper. This helps you to be sure you have
included all required elements and helps your grader to be sure which area you are addressing. Be sure to use appropriate definitions and citations
throughout your paper. While normally we don’t use actual subjects’ names in any papers at DSON, you should use the characters’ names in this paper for the
sake of clarity.
§ Introduction: The paper should start with an introductory paragraph in the style of an academic paper. “This purpose of this paper is…” The introduction in
an academic paper should be a summary that informs the reader of what will be included in the paper about to be read, including all the theories to be
applied. You should also introduce your subject family by name and indicate the source (fictional family portrayed in…).
§ Internal Structural Family Assessment: Before implementing any model or theory in a paper, the theory should be introduced to provide context for the
reader. Therefore, this section should begin with a brief introduction to the CFAM. Include the following aspects of the CFAM. Be sure to discuss why/how
each of these aspects informs your understanding of the family.
Discuss family composition – identify who is in the family, their approximate ages, and who is missing.
Define and discuss the rank order of the family members.
Identify and describe three important subsystems within the family and discuss the degree of functional health within each subsystems.
Define and describe the family boundaries (e.g. diffuse, rigid or permeable) and the impact of these boundaries on family function.
Conclude this section with a brief summary (1-3 sentences) that conveys your impressions of the family after applying this part of the assessment. For
example, “overall, this family appears to be fairly cohesive and stable at the present time, though they struggle with…”.
§ External and Contextual Structural Assessments: Introduce this part of the model by defining the meaning of “external” and “contextual” structural
assessments. Describe what you know about the extended family, and larger external systems directly affecting the family (e.g. schools, neighborhoods,
etc.). Base this on your observations within the film and use examples to illustrate your points, where appropriate. Discuss what you know of the contextual
factors of as race/ethnicity, social class, and environment. (Keep in mind that White families are members of the dominant culture in the US – how does this
benefit them?) Conclude this section with a brief summary (1-3 sentences) that conveys your impressions of the family after applying this part of the
§ Functional Assessment/Family Dynamics: Introduce this part of the model by defining some key terms. Using concepts from the model, describe the
family dynamics based on information observed.
Be sure to include:
formal and informal roles
examples of nonverbal communication
examples of problem-solving within the family
dynamics of influence and power expressed in the family
alliances and coalitions with the family.
Conclude this section with a brief summary (1-3 sentences) that conveys your impressions of the family after applying this part of the assessment.
Please note: this section is worth the most points of any in the paper. This reflects the level of detail expected in this section.
§ Family Life Cycle: Using North American Family Life Cycle theory as described in Shajani & Snell, introduce the theory. Identify the appropriate life cycle
phase that the family is in. Clearly identify and describe the tasks associated with that phase, using the language of the theory (not your own interpretation).
Then discuss whether or not the family is meeting these tasks, including examples. (This section should be roughly 1 ½ pages long.)
§ Social Determinants of Health [SDOH]: Using resources from your IPE course, identify three SDOH that have a particular impact on your family. [Choosing
the impact of each example on the family’s health. Be sure to include definitions and citations for the SDOH. Here are some suggested references you may
cite for this section: Healthy People 2020 SDOH opens in new window ♦ World Health Organization SDOH opens in new window ♦ NEJM Catalyst SDOH
opens in new window.
§ Literature application: Imagine you are the primary care provider for the Grape family, and you are looking for information on how to better work with the
family. This could be regarding any [non-physical] issue. For example, long-term family impacts of parental suicide, or families living with a child with
cognitive impairment. Other topics are fine too, as long as they are based in the story portrayed (i.e. don’t make up a problem not observed/described in the
movie). Locate an article in current peer-reviewed literature (published in 2016 or later) that would help you understand this family in the clinical context.
Discuss the findings of the article and describe how this information helps you understand the family. Suggestion: you might fine more articles if you look in
social work, psychology or family therapy literature.
§ Theory Application: Select either the Bioecological Model or Hill’s ABC-X model to apply to your subject family.
For Bioecological model: make sure you include examples for each of these four systems in the model: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and
macrosystem. Be sure to use multiple examples for each system. Explain why you chose this model with regard to the subject family. If there are parts of the
model that you don’t have enough information about, include what you would like to ask the family if you could, to gain the needed information. Discuss how
the model can help to explain family behavior and to guide your care/understanding of the family.
For Hill’s ABC-X model: Describe the stressor you will address with the model. Make sure it is something that actually happens or is referred to in the movie,
not something you make up. Identify each component of the model represented by the A-B-C and X. Discuss the category of the stressor (e.g. internal vs
external, sudden vs gradual, normative vs non-normative, etc.) using the terms discussed in class. Address how the category impacts the degree of stress
experienced by the family.
§ Writing Style, APA Format: Consistent with expectations of any academic paper, be sure to end your paper with a concluding paragraph that summarizes
what was just covered in the paper, including all the theories that were discussed. Include headings/subheadings in your paper for clarity. Write in a
professional, academic style. Limit the use of first person to statements of opinion or personal experience. Be sure to include citations for all definitions and
references to theory. The paper should be formatted consistent with APA guidelines 7th edition. Include a title page and reference page (these are not
included in your page count).