Case 3

Case 3. José Carlos is a 41-year-old Colombian immigrant. He has lived in the United States for 11 years. Members of his extended family live in the United States, but his parents and three sisters still live in Colombia. He is seeking therapy because he is having difficulty dealing with his impending divorce from his wife, Ana. Ana is 35 years old and is from the United States. They have a 13-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter.

José Carlos met Ana at a community service project sponsored by Ana’s social work class. They have been married for 14 years. José Carlos has United States citizenship because of his marriage to Ana. He is unsure of how his divorce will affect his U.S. citizenship and his parental rights.

Before deciding on divorce, they participated in couple’s counseling. In individual counseling, José Carlos expressed that getting a divorce was her decision. Even though José Carlos does not believe in counseling therapy, he believes he needs help.

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José Carlos stated that Ana is too liberal. He believes her professional degree and her friends have influenced her to disregard his traditional cultural values regarding the rules of marriage. She demands personal attention; he believes that the family’s focus should be on their children.

Their parenting styles are different, too. He says that Ana is too lenient and that she lets their children express opinions that oppose theirs. He believes that children must be respectful and that they must follow all of their parents’ orders. Ana wants the children to be independent and have an open mind. She says that they need to be kids.

José Carlos fears that his daughter will fail in marriage like her mother and fears that his son will not learn how to control a woman. He feels ashamed that his marriage failed because he could not control his independent wife. He feels that his inability to control his wife and his household is an insult to his traditional cultural values.


  • Consider other immigrant populations in the United States. What are at least three difficulties that could arise during the counseling process that relate to these populations?
  • List the potential gender and cultural issues in this case. How might an effective cultural counselor address each of them?
  • Identify a multicultural competency that best supports your strategy to address the      issue.
  • Review the ACA Code of Ethics. What ethical conflicts might arise from this case?

Case 3

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