Dale is a 52-year-old White man who works as a prison guard in Arizona and was referred to counseling because he has had multiple verbal and physical altercations at work with inmates. In the past month, Dale has been involved in two physical altercations with prisoners, both of which were caused by Dale calling prisoners by racist names. Based on his work behavior, his supervisor referred him to counseling as a condition of his continued employment. Dale does not want to be in counseling, as he does not think that he needs to change anything, but he has attended the first session in order to maintain his employment.

Dale was a police officer for 18 years and was terminated from the police force due to racial profiling and his inability to work collaboratively with his minority colleagues. After termination, he served as a bouncer at a local bar for 4 years but quit to pursue a job with higher income and medical benefits for his painful rheumatoid arthritis. Dale has worked in the prison system for 2½ years.  

Dale has been married twice. He was married to his first wife for 6 years and had one son from that marriage who is currently 21 years old. His son was raised primarily by his ex-wife, and Dale saw him on holidays and for 2 weeks during the summer. Dale no longer has contact with his son. Dale broke contact after his son brought home a Latina girlfriend; Dale states that the “Mexicans and Blacks are taking over his country but won’t take over his family.” Dale describes his ex-wife as a “lying whore” who he believes had multiple affairs during the marriage while he worked long hours as a police officer. He says she denies these accusations, but Dale says that “you can’t really trust women.” He also thinks she did a “terrible job” raising their son, and he described his son as a “big baby.”

Dale has been married to his second wife, Anne, for 3 years. Anne works as a clerk at a grocery store in their small town. Anne does not have any children. Dale describes Anne as politically and socially “ignorant” and “very religious.” He says he trusts Anne because of her religious beliefs and that she is afraid to go to hell for sinning. Dale states that it is Anne’s religious beliefs that allow him to trust her not to be like most women who have affairs, spend their husband’s money, and lie a lot. He states she “knows her place” as his “property” and doesn’t disagree with him. Dale was raised by his mother in a rural community where he was the eldest of four children; his views mirror those of his father, a man who worked as a laborer to support his family.  

Dale states that he seeks out people who oppose his views so that he can try to convince them that the U.S.A. is a country for White, English speaking people only. When asked about this view, Dale shares that he grew up in extreme poverty and that “the lazy Blacks and Mexicans” got services and support while he had to “pull myself up by the bootstraps” to get to the middle class. Dale did not adopt extreme anger about these views until he started working in the prison, where many of the inmates are Black Americans and/or Hispanic Americans.


Mike is a 14-year-old Asian American male who lives in Virginia with his parents and two sisters (Abby, 18, and Leesa, 20), who are now attending a nearby university. Mike’s family immigrated to the US when Mike was 9 years old so that his dad could better support their family as a working engineer. Mike’s mother works from home as a part-time booking agent and takes great pride in caring for their household.  Mike’s math teacher referred him to counseling services because Mike is withdrawn and his grades are falling.  

Mike presents as meek and quiet-spoken. He rarely speaks unless spoken to and his responses are concise yet thorough. Mike reports that he is close with his mother and sisters, as they are gentle and supportive. Mike states that his dad pressures him to earn As and is angry with Mike for adopting a  “lazy American teenager attitude” and not appreciating the efforts his family has made to ensure Mike’s success. Mike reports that his father is often verbally abusive toward him, so Mike spends most of his time alone in his bedroom to avoid his dad’s angry lectures. Mike’s dad accuses his wife of promoting Mike’s “lazy American attitude” and threatens to kick Mike out of the house if he does not bring home stronger grades. Mike feels responsible for the tension in their house, and he is glad to come to counseling if it will help his family.

Mike is an average student, with a 3.0 GPA. Mike’s classmates often tease him, call him derogatory names, and push him when teachers are not looking. Mike reports that he is often fearful and anxious in school and does not really have friends there, but he does have a 17-year-old male friend who works on cars with Mike, and the two of them talk about opening an automotive shop together. Mike’s car buddy dropped out of high school, and Mike’s dad disapproves of this relationship, thinking it is leading Mike away from his family and cultural values. Mike states that he wants to honor his family, but has no interest in the professions his dad wants him to pursue, and he struggles with the classes that lead in those directions. Thus, Mike feels  inadequate much of the time.


Deidre is a 22-year-old African American and Latina female who was raised as an only child near New York City. At age 19, Deidre moved to Kansas to attend college. She is currently a senior majoring in sociology and works part-time to pay for school and living expenses. Deidre was referred by her medical doctor who noted that she was anxious and tense, and suggested she see a counselor. Deidre says that although she does not identify with a religion, she has “dabbled in Buddhism” as a way to relax and find comfort. 

Deidre’s parents divorced when she was 9 and she lived primarily with her mom after the divorce. Deidre had a contentious relationship with her Latina mother, who was “moody” and emotionally unpredictable and tended to hoard things. Deidre reported that her mother “drove her father away” with her negative moods and that Deidre is concerned about her own moods and is worried about becoming like her mother. Deidre spent most of her childhood in her room, where she felt protected from her mother. Deidre was quiet and withdrawn during high school and had only a few close friends.

Deidre’s African American father died suddenly from a heart attack when she was 17. She described her father as being very quiet and calm. When her parents were married, Deidre remembers her father sitting in a chair reading and not reacting to her mother’s moods. When Deidre spent summers with her father, she reported feeling close to him even though they did not talk much, but she appreciated how “calm” his house was. 

After her dad’s passing, Deidre started using drugs and alcohol. She stated that she preferred marijuana, and that she was afraid of meth even though many of her friends were using it. She became pregnant at 18 after a party at a friend’s house, but she didn’t know who the baby’s father was. She had an abortion, and reports that she dreams about who her child might have been and how “different—in a good way” her life might be if she had carried the child full term. 

While in her first year at college, she joined an environmental group, where she met her boyfriend, Tom. Currently, Deirdre is living with Tom in a small apartment just off campus in the downtown area of Hays, Kansas. Deidre has been with Tom for nearly 4 years, and they are considering getting married. She reported feeling guilty that she has never shared with Tom that she had an abortion. She stated that Tom is very pro-life, and she is afraid he will leave her if she tells him. She expresses that she would like help sorting out her many issues and wonders if there is any hope for her to have a good life.  


Jason is a 38-year-old Jewish Caucasian male. He grew up on the east coast, and his entire family still lives there. He owns a successful law practice and specializes in commercial real estate property law. Jason came to counseling reporting that he has been “feeling severely depressed.” In the first session, he shared feelings of loneliness, despair, and isolation, and he frequently cried. During the session, he shared that he works 60–80 hours a week, as work keeps him sane.

Jason responded to questions about his social support system by saying he feels “respected in the Jewish community” and finds the weekly religious services to be “comforting and consoling.” After further inquiry about his close relationships and the possibility of intimacy in his life, Jason replied he had been in several romantic relationships before, however now he’s not in “any kind of committed relationship.”

In the second session, Jason presented as pale, sweaty, and repeatedly bounced his leg. He started the session by speaking quickly and sharing that he has been romantically involved for a year with Kevin, a 36-year-old who identifies as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (previously nicknamed “Mormons”). Jason reported that they have gone to great lengths to keep the relationship a secret, as its disclosure would have a “devastating” effect on his and Kevin’s professional, religious, and social statuses. Jason fears he would be rejected by his community, his peers, and his clients if his relationship was discovered. He indicated that his Rabbi “should never hear about it.”

Jason stated that he found out yesterday that Kevin “betrayed him.” He stated that Kevin has been spending time on the Internet, accessing porn sites, and participating in sexually explicit chats. Jason also reported that there has been a lack of affection between the two of them over the past few months, which “drove” Jason to his depression. According to Jason, Kevin’s “online affairs” have driven them apart.

Jason shared that his relationship with Kevin gave his life meaning and purpose. Jason stated that he doesn’t want to “lose Kevin, but I don’t know how or even if we can work through all our issues.” Jason reported having nightmares about finding Kevin in bed with another man and being forced to wear a pink triangle on his sleeve while his family, friends, and colleagues pointed and yelled slurs at him. Jason reported that his work is suffering and that he wants to cry “all the time.” Jason asks his counselor to help “take away the pain.”


Olivia is 15 years old and lives with her father, Luis (age 40), her younger sisters, Catrina (7) and Elena (9), and her brother Sancho (11). Olivia’s mother, an Irish American woman, and her father met and married after Luis moved from Honduras to the US mainland, but their marriage ended when Luis’s wife, Sinead, chose to pursue a new romantic relationship and abandoned the family. Olivia’s mother has had little contact with her children since she left when Olivia was 9 and a year after Catrina was born. Sinead sends birthday and Christmas cards from different places where she is living and working as a traveling nurse. Although she makes good money, she pays no child support, nor does she pay spousal support although she makes twice as much money as Luis.

Olivia’s father, Luis, works two jobs to make ends meet. He is a full-time truck driver on weekdays (having to leave for work before his children are awake) and does maintenance for a retirement center on weekends to support his family. The family rents an apartment, and Luis struggles to manage his family’s living expenses due to rising costs. Olivia assumes much of the responsibility for housework and caring for her siblings because her father is often working away from home. Luis is proud that Olivia can manage so many household duties and tells Olivia she is fulfilling a vital role now and in her future as a wife and mother.

Olivia has been referred to you due to her failing grades and school attendance issues. Olivia has begun to struggle in her classes at school and has missed many days because she is often tired and unfocused. When in school, Olivia is very quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t have many friends. When asked about her performance, she tells her teachers that she worries constantly about her siblings and tries to help them with their homework and learning while keeping up with cooking, cleaning and laundry duties at home. She says that she feels like a disappointment to her teachers and is sad about this. Olivia says she would like to become a veterinarian, but does not see how she will ever be able to attend college because of her father’s expectations for her both in the home and the future. Olivia enjoys reading about the animals of the world in the evenings when her chores are done. Olivia shares that she misses her mother, and she has not seen or talked to here since she left 6 years ago. Although she is proud to be able to help her family, she wishes she had more friends her own age at school and feels as though she has taken her mother’s place at home. She says she does not dare to dream about her future because it seems so bleak.

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