Applying Theoretical Interventions for Clients Experiencing Life Transition and Developmental Issues

Applying Theoretical Interventions for Clients Experiencing Life Transition and Developmental Issues


Produced and directed by Marc E. Platt and Neda Armian Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 film based on the character Kym Buchman. In the film, Kym leaves the rehabilitation center to attend her sister’s wedding over the weekend. Her major tasks after being released from the rehab center include attending an AA meeting and checking in for drug tests. Contemporarily she is undergoing AA’s 12 step process. At home, Kym encounters several challenges such as being criticized by other family members for going to rehab and being tested by others who do not understand her condition. Her parents are divorced and are currently married to different people. Kym believes that she is the cause of many issues that her family has gone through. She blames herself for the death of her younger brother Ethan who died from drowning. It is believed that Kym led to his demise after their car while under the influence. Kym’s family has not resolved any issue concerning the emotions souring Ethan’s death. Kym is also being accused of lying, having an addiction problem, and Ethan’s death. The only person who seems supportive and caring towards Kym is his father. Due to the unresolved issues surrounding her family, Kym feels that it is high time for her family to go to therapy.

Transition and Developmental Issues Present

In the film Rachel Getting Married, the family problems indicate many developments and life transition issues. The life transition issues include the death of Ethan, Kym’s addiction problem, Kym’s parent’s divorce, and sisters who are in constant need of attention. The family is facing transition problems after the death of Ethan. Everyone blames Kym for her brother’s death and decides to alienate her. Kym and her mother have gotten into both physical and verbal fights over the death of Ethan. Nonetheless, Ethan’s room has remained unchanged for over ten years after his death. This shows that the family has been having a hard time transitioning into life without Ethan. Also, the divorce of Kym’s parents led to a challenging transition in Kym’s life why may have led to her substance abuse problem. Her mother is also experiencing the challenge of stagnation. Kym also believes that Abby experienced a mental breakdown after her son’s death. She also has a significantly distant relationship with Rachel and Kym since she abandoned them, never visited Kym, and was not interested in her daughter’s wedding. One of the major developmental issues experienced by Kym is maintaining successful relationships with other people. She does not discuss any of her close relationships or friendships apart from her family.

Family’s Problem through a Theoretical Standpoint

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) in practice are often given tasks to help families work through their conflicts and arrive at more successful relationships than before, which may seem terrifying and challenging. Nevertheless, the interaction patterns showing ups in families can get some clarity and context for therapists who understand the systems theory. According to the systems theory, a person cannot be well understood if isolated from his or her family context (Friedlander et al., 2018). This is for the reason that families tend to establish relational processes and create interaction sequences as well as behaviors to maintain the dynamic stability of a particular family system. In the film, Kym’s family consists of inseparable individuals who have different perspectives of life. Thus, it is critical to address the behavior and structure of the whole relationship system which significantly plays a role in the development of every family member’s character. The changes in the behavior of Kym along with other family members significantly influenced how her family functioned over time.


Treatment Plan

Identified strengths: Willingness to share feelings, effective communication between the family members, and ability to work together as a family.


Identified problems/deficits: Unresolved mental problems within the family, Kym’s addiction problem and risk of relapse, Abby’s emotional isolation lack of understanding, unresolved grief, and unwillingness to communicate their problems.

Long-Term Goal(s): Short-Term Goals Objectives Strategies Expected Outcome

(With Time Frame)

I.                    Unresolved emotional issues arising due to Etna’s death will be resolved and no longer interfere with family interaction.

II.                 Kym will have self-understanding and self-acceptance, especially with her substance abuse problem.

III.              To establish healing and connection between the family members resulting in personal growth, symptom change, and new definitions of their relationship.



  1. Kym will stop blaming herself for the death of her brother and parents’ separation.
  2. Kym and Abby will rekindle the mother-daughter relationship.
  3. Kym will learn how to cope with her substance abuse problem.




  1. All family members will actively attend and actively participate in all the therapy sessions.
  2. Kym and Abby will undergo separate client-centered therapy sessions.


1.      Equipping them with skills to help them solve their immediate challenges through one family therapy along with client-centered therapy.

2.      All family members will complete all the strategies.



  1. Active participation in the family and client-centered therapy process for the first month.
  2. Provide feedback in every session and achieve behavioral change.




Evidence-Based Interventions

Among the most effective evidence-based treatments for Kym’s family include family therapy and client-centered therapy. Family therapy was created to help families to come together and address their issues. The treatment course is often brief and most family therapy techniques seek to address individual issues interfering with family system cohesiveness and the communication styles of the family (Carr, 2019). The systemic family model focuses on the meanings of specific behaviors of family members and unconscious communications (Carr, 2019). In this case, the therapist will assess the reasons why Abby is overly emotional and distances herself from her family. The therapist will remain distant and neutral, allowing all the family members to broadly think about their problems and issues a family. Another technique is the strategic model which is more direct and briefer. The therapist will assign the family with a particular homework that is intended to help in changing the way family members interact (Lebow, 2019). The therapist will assess how the family makes decisions and communicates and find effective ways.

Another significant treatment is client-focused therapy that will be used on Kym who has substance disorder. Client-centered therapy will involve the provision of verbal self-report from Kym to gather information about her mental and substance abuse problem. This will help the therapist understand how Kym perceives her past and current events (Kessler et al., 2019). The therapy will also provide her with an opportunity to reflect on her emotions, space, and independence along with other significant interventions.



Carr, A. (2020). Evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of systemic family therapy. The Handbook of Systemic Family Therapy (Edition 1). pg. 119-146. New York: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Friedlander, M. L., Escudero, V., Welmers-van de Poll, M. J., & Heatherington, L. (2018). Meta-analysis of the alliance–outcome relation in couple and family therapy. Psychotherapy55(4), 356.

Kessler, D., Walker, I., Sauvé-Schenk, K., & Egan, M. (2019). Goal setting dynamics that facilitate or impede a client-centered approach. Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy26(5), 315-324.

Lebow, J. L. (2019). Current issues in the practice of integrative couple and family therapy. Family Process58(3), 610-628.






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