Counseling With a Muslim-American Family: Beyond Islamaphobia

Counseling With a Muslim-American Family: Beyond Islamaphobia

Margaux Hanes Brown (Augusta University, USA) and Ari-Elle R. West (Augusta University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0022-4.ch003
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Islamophobia is the unfounded fear of Islam and resulting hostility that Muslims experience as a religious minority in the U.S. For a marginalized community in the U.S., this increases the risk for poor mental health outcomes and further compounds stigma around help-seeking behaviors. In this case study, a family unit presented for counseling with stress resulting from life cycle stressors. However, the intersectionality of their religious identity affected how the individuals experienced transitions as well as microaggressions. This case study includes a counselor's application of the Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies, treatment interventions, and extensions for further professional development.
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Case Description

Muhammad, immigrated to the U.S. in college and is an engineer. He volunteers at the weekend school at the local mosque. Nadia, his wife, is U.S.-born to immigrant parents and is a pharmacist. They have an arranged marriage, and both identity as the same nationality and Muslim denomination. Omar is their 16-year old son in 10th grade. He performs well academically and competes year-round in a local swim league. His parents expect him to pursue a career in the medical field. Fatima is an 11-year-old girl in the 6th grade. The family resides in a suburban area where the persons of color make up 40% of the population, a vast majority of the population identifies as Christian, and less than 5% are foreign-born.

The family sought counseling after Omar was involved in an underage drinking incident where law enforcement intervened. On the night of the incident, Omar was supposed to be studying with a group of peers; instead decided to attend a party with friends on the swim team. Though Omar was not legally intoxicated and was not in possession of any substances, like some of his peers, he was the last youth to be released by the authorities to his parents. A fallout of the incident was that his parents discovered that he has had a girlfriend for over a year and had consumed alcohol. Omar has begun to rebel against his parents at home too. He began to resist going to the mosque with the family for prayer and community events. He did not end his romantic relationship. He argued with his parents about their prohibiting him from dating at all and especially girls who are not Muslim. Fatima began sixth grade at the local school after having four years of homeschooling. She has been victimized for wearing her hijab in her new school. She reports feeling pressure at school to dress and act like her peers, including socializing with boys, in ways that are incongruent with ways she has been taught to act in her family and faith community. Nadia has recently returned to work part-time, and the family seems to be in continual conflict. Nadia called to initiate counseling. She stated that her husband was reluctant to attend but agreed to come to the first session. Muhammad and Nadia have been looking to relocate closer to both of their places of work; however, they have been unsuccessful in securing a contract on a home in a more conveniently located affluent neighborhood despite offering a substantial down payment.

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