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Family Assessment
Family Assessment
This paper will utilize the Calgary Family Assessment Model (CFAM) to provide a
comprehensive assessment of the Jones family by organizing data into three categories:
structural, developmental, and functional (Wright & Leahy, 2000).
Structural Assessment
Internal structure
The family is composed of three family members, Jack, male age 48, Diane, female age
45, and Sam, male age 14. Sam is the biological progeny of Jack and Diane, and neither adult has
been married previously. Jack and Diane fulfill gender roles consistent with a conservative
Christian belief system whereas Diane is responsible for domestic work and child-rearing while
Jack is responsible for financial security and discipline. While Jack and Diane describe equality
in their relationship, in disputes Diane defers to her husband’s preference. Jack and Diane
identify as heterosexual and thus far, Sam does as well. Sam is an only child. Rigid boundaries
exist between the marital couple and the child in that the relationship is authoritative. Jack and
Diane are a marital unit who show a united front in the guidance and discipline of Sam and Sam
is expected to adhere to rules and treat his parents with respect. Jack and Sam have a relationship
cluster based on shared interests in sports, history, and outdoor activities. Diane and Sam have a
relationship cluster based on an emotional connection as she is the one Sam turns to for
External structure
There is a limited connection to extended family members. Jack is estranged from his
family of origin, citing a history of emotional manipulation that he chooses not to involve
himself or his family in. His parents have passed away, and he no longer maintains contact with
his older brother. Diane’s parents have passed away, and she has no siblings. Neither adult has
any connection to aunts, uncles, or cousins and Sam does not either.
The family does have strong friendships with several other families they refer to as their
family by adoption. These families get together for family celebrations, holidays, and other
family events. These other families have parents who are similar in age to Jack and Diane, and
two of the families have children who are Sam’s age. These children refer to each other as
The most relevant and influential system in the family in their church community. Jack
and Diane are involved in their church community by serving in leadership positions, and Sam is
a member of the youth organization.
The Jones family identifies as Caucasian and upper middle class. Jack and Diane have
college educations. Jack is employed in a sales management position, and Diane works part-time
as a teacher so she can be home with Sam outside of school hours. Sam attends a churchaffiliated private school. Religion is a major influence in their lives, and it is the foundation for
their social relationships, activities they participate in, child-rearing, education, political views,
and healthcare practices. They live in a small home in a suburb of a large metropolitan area and
report good relationships with their immediate neighbors.
Developmental Assessment
Stages of the family life cycle
The Jones family is in the stage of family with adolescent child. Jack and Diane married
in their early thirties, and Sam was born within two years.
Functional Assessment
Expressive functioning
Emotional communication in the Jones family is limited and narrow. Feelings are not
expressed by Jack and Sam is expected to keep his emotions stable. Diane displays emotions
related to worry, anxiety, sadness, and joy, but that emotional expression is consistent with the
family’s religious beliefs. According to those beliefs, men are supposed to maintain composure
at all times. While anger is an acceptable negative emotion to feel, the expression of it is
corrected immediately. Happiness and joy are encouraged as the desired emotional condition.
Sam appears blunted emotionally and is unable to communicate his feelings as if he does not
have the descriptive vocabulary.
Verbal communication is direct, and Jack shares his mantra of “say what you mean and
mean what you say” as well as “speak up like a man.” Honesty is verbal communication is
valued, and communication is expected to be clear and concise. Sam is expected to abide by
these “rules” as well. Diane’s communication style is also honest, forthright, but at times her
communication style is laden with emotion, and her message becomes distorted. Sam expressed
discomfort with this practice saying sometimes he does not know what his mother expects of
Nonverbal communication is also very rigid, and Jack sets the example with his erect
posture and direct eye contact. However, he conveys friendliness with open facial expressions,
shaking hands, and closing proximal distance with others easily. Diane is the same. However she
tends to hug her friends and family. Sam is more rigid than Jack and maintains a stiff posture,
bland affect, and succinct but polite speech. He speaks little and when asked questions, answers
them directly and honestly but without providing extraneous information.
Problem solving
Family problem solving is shared but ultimately led by Jack. When Diane experiences a
problem, she shares the problem with Jack, and they solve it together, relying on their religious
beliefs to guide them to a solution. The goal is to do the right thing even if it means discomfort
for the individuals involved. Jack also discusses his problems with Diane, and as a marital unit,
they decide what to do. When they disagree, Jack makes the final decision. When Sam
encounters a problem, they hold what they refer to as a “family meeting” where the problem is
discussed. Sam is encouraged to come up with solutions, guided by Jack and Diane. When
solutions are not immediately available or known, the family takes time to “pray about it” and
then talk about it some more. Jack and Diane also reach out to their extended family friends and
church community for guidance and Sam is encouraged to do the same.
Family roles are defined and seem to be accepted by the family members. Jack and Diane
are the authority figures to whom Sam is held accountable. Sam is knowledgeable about what his
parents expect from him, including exemplary school performance, participation in
extracurricular activities, church involvement, and helping with chores. The family is viewed as
the priority with extended family and the church community coming in second and third. Diane’s
role of wife and mother means she is the primary authority on indoor and household chores while
Jack’s role as husband and father means he is the primary authority on outdoor and automobile
related chores as well as coordinating the family’s finances. There is no evidence of role
confusion nor any indication that any family member is dissatisfied with their roles.
Influence and power
As mentioned previously, while Jack and Diane share decision-making power in the
family, Jack has the most influence and power since he has the final authority. He takes this role
seriously, however, stating it is not his intention to use any form of power to dominate his wife
or son. He is also the primary disciplinarian and Sam describes him as strict. In that way, Sam
describes Jack as intimidating and he does his best not to get in trouble. Jack says he and Diane
rarely have to use instrumental influence on Sam, but at times they will to “get him back on
track.” Sam gave several examples of times his privileges were revoked because his grades were
not good enough. The family does not believe in corporal punishment.
The family’s religious beliefs serve as the foundation for their values, beliefs, and
attitudes. They believe those values influence their behavior and they put effort into serving
others and their community as an extension of living their Christian beliefs. The family has
experienced several health-related problems in the past and state that they believe the body
breaks down at times and that doctors are put on the earth to care for them. They also state that
ultimately, it is “God’s will” what happens to them as a result of any health issues, but they will
seek healthcare preventatively and for treatment of conditions that arise.
The family relationships seem well-balanced. Due to the marital alliance between Jack
and Diane, there is no triangulation or attempts at parental manipulation from Sam. He knows
that his parents will agree with each other and present a united front.
The comprehensive assessment of the Jones family highlights the strengths of the family
regarding their religious beliefs, clear roles and expectations, and practical problem-solving
practices. However, the rigid and limited emotional communication is the family’s weakness as
it seems to convey mixed messages to Sam. The family, however, appears stable with no desire
to change their family structure. They maintain positive social connections with adopted
extended family and their religious community. Because of their family cohesion and religious
beliefs, they approach healthcare and health issues with pragmatism and practicality yet relying
on spirituality to help them cope with negative health concerns.
Wright, L. M. & Leahy, M. (2000). Nurses and families: A guide to family assessment and
interventions. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.
Carlas3. (n.d.). Calgary Family Assessment Model CFAM - PowerPoint PPT Presentation.
Retrieved from
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