Case Conceptualization of Client

On the basis of this client description, the counselor would attempt to understand Kathy's presenting concerns from a multicultural perspective given that she identifies as an African American woman and is experiencing a major cultural conflict given her new environment. In doing so, the counselor would examine the contextual factors that may be affecting her negative body image, use of unhealthy weight loss behaviors, and academic stress. Kathy reports several risk factors that could contribute to her experiencing ED symptoms. First, she has moved from a predominantly Black environment where she experienced family and peer support to a predominantly White environment where she seems to be part of an underrepresented group. This potential social isolation from a similar racial peer group could be contributing to her desire to fit in with her peers and minimize her feelings of being or looking different. Second, she seems to be receiving conflicting cultural messages regarding body image. At home, her curves were appreciated, yet a thinner body ideal seems to be the norm among her current peer group. This conflict regarding standards of beauty could be another source of stress for Kathy, and she may be using unhealthy weight management strategies to try to cope with this conflict. Third, her simultaneous membership in two oppressed demographic identity groups (i.e., gender and race) could heighten the possibility that Kathy is feeling marginalized and powerless in her new environment and is using negative coping strategies to gain control of her life. Finally, given that she is the first in her neighborhood to attend a school outside of her region and she is the first child in her family to attend college, she may be facing additional pressures to succeed.

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