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MEET FRANK GALLAGHER Frank is a 52-year-old unemployed, dead beat alcoholic, extremely sarcastic father to six children living in the projects of South Chicago. He was married to a bipolar woman, Monica, who is the mother of all six children, however she ran away from her family with a her girlfriend. He spends most of his time scamming people and uses the little money he has on alcohol or drugs such as narcotics and or illicit drugs. He is never home or present in his children’s lives, unless he is asking for money or asking them to do a favor for him.. Although he is a troublemaker, he is rather intelligent, charismatic, and funny while drunk, as he seems to get his way with everything. Since he is not present in his children’s lives, his kids have learned to push him away and do not welcome him inside their home. Thus, he sleeps hungover either on a bench, under the train tracks, on the train, or tries to manipulate people into letting him sleep in their home. The eldest children (Fiona, Lip, and Ian) are the ones who hate him the most, as the younger children (Debbie, Carl, and Liam) seem to have unconditional love for him. The only time that he is present in their lives is if the children need him for legal issues or demand him to fix a mess that he created which involved them. Other than that, Frank has no role in the children’s lives because he does not benefit them financially or emotionally and sees the world as his oyster.


Frank Gallagher is highly dependent on alcohol and drinks it, from the moment he wakes up, to the moment he passes out. Chronic drinking for men, is defined as at least 15 drinks a week, therefore, it is safe to say that Frank is a chronic alcoholic (Kaakinen, 2015, p150). Alcohol is a depressant substance and directly acts on a person’s central nervous system, while Alcoholism is alcohol abuse and dependence, beyond someone’s control. Abuse of alcohol causes damage to the body such as cardiac arrhythmias, liver cirrhosis, muscle weakness, peripheral neuropathies, digestive bleeding, pancreatitis, cerebral degenerative pictures, and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. (Ferraboli et al., 2015). It can also cause high blood pressure, different cancers, malnutrition, and negatively affect mental and cognitive health. In addition, due to its ability to impair cognition, accidents may occur such as car accidents, drowning, and falls (Kaakinen, 2015, p150). However, not only does it cause harm to themselves, but also to the people around them, more so, their family. Most families who suffer with alcoholism are said to be chaotic, inconsistent, and weak in emotional relationships, due to the consequences (Ferraboli et al., 2015).

FIONA Fiona is 21-years-old and the eldest of the Gallagher kids. She is charming and hard-working, with her downfall of putting too much on her plate and not asking for help. Since her parents were never really present, she took responsibility and raised the rest of the kids herself from a very young age. As a result, she never graduated from high school, but eventually worked for her GED and became their legal guardian. She is the breadwinner of the family, however some the other siblings help contributing money as well. She was constantly juggling between multiple jobs, until she was able to land a stable office job at K-cups, where she has steady income and benefits. Everyday, after work, she goes home to make sure that there is food on the table and the kids go to bed early for school the next day. Every morning, she gets them ready for school, makes their breakfast and school lunches, and gives them money. She is very likable, as many men are attracted to her. She has had her fair share of boyfriends, yet tends to engage in unprotected sex often and unconsciously favors the questionable men who are either drug addicts, sex addicts, or in a sketchy business. This always gets her in messy situations that sometimes involves the rest of the family. She also drinks alcohol, smokes, and uses substances, when she is partying and having “fun.” She is still young which means that she has many issues of her own, yet she always bottles her emotions and always tries to be the stronger one in the family. She feels responsible for the kids and how they turn out, therefore, to her, the kids are first and she would do anything for them.

PHILLIP “Lip” Phillip, who prefers to be called Lip, is an 18 year-old who is rather witty, sarcastic, and the most intelligent out of the whole family. He had a perfect score on the SATs and was the first of the family to ever graduate high school. In fact, he would take other people’s SATs for them in exchange for money. Throughout high school, he was always pushed by his counselors and teachers to go to college and was even talked to by multiple college professors, as they wanted him to go to college. He hated the idea of it because it was too practical, however, his teachers thought he should not waste his intelligence. They often told him that he should strive for a “better life” versus the rest of the people in the projects,. Yet despite his academic excellence, he would always get himself into trouble with the law. Eventually, he moved out and attended MIT, where he was studying robotics while doing work study. When he was still in the house, he would also help provide financially whether it was scamming people, doing other people’s SATs, or juggling any job he had. Whenever Fiona struggled, he would be the one to step up and take responsibility for the children. He would also always help Fiona and remind her of things, such as if bills were paid. He smokes both cigarettes and marijuana and engages in unprotected sex very often between both his ex-girlfriends Karen and Mandy. Overall, he is always looking out for his siblings and is always trying to find ends meets.


Ian is 16 years-old and the only kid who is not biologically Frank’s. Monica, the mother, had an affair with one of Frank’s brothers, who is the biological father of Ian, however does not want to be with his biological father. He is homosexual and was involved with two married middleaged men, however, fell in love with Mickey, a delinquent who is secretly gay. He too, helps with the family financially, as he used to work in a corner store. He is part of JROTC and has always planned on going to the military. However, problems with Mickey pushed him to to join sooner. Than expected. Thus, he secretly ran away and joined the military without telling his family and by using Lip’s ID. He also smokes, drinks, and gets in trouble with the law, but his brother Lip, who he is closest to, is always covering for him, so it does not look bad on his record for military purposes. Overall, he is sweet and caring, but emotional when it comes to Mickey, his love interest.

Carl is a 12-year-old boy who is the bully of his school and is always getting called in by the principal. He is not really interested in school, thus he keeps failing and is a grade behind. He has been threatened to be expelled and suspended multiple times. He tends to enjoy inflicting pain on others so he would bully others kids at school or torture animals. He enjoys collecting weapons such as knives and guns for fun. Although he enjoys doing those things, he is one of the only kids who has an unconditional love for Frank. Even though Frank is a deadbeat dad, Carl would believe his manipulations and help his dad with tasks, not realizing what exactly it is for. Him and Debbie tend to fight a lot because they are very close to age and two very different people. He is going through puberty so he is learning new things about himself hormonally.


Liam is the youngest of the family and is only 5 years-old. He is the only one of color because Frank is of African descent. Being the only one of color has gotten himself into situations that he does not realize, such as Monica (his mother) coming back and trying to take him for herself and her black lesbian girlfriend or almost getting adopted by a homosexual male couple. He is still young, so he is dependent on his siblings to babysit him or is left at a family friend’s house to be babysat. He does not talk much yet, and only knows very little words, but is a behaved, obedient, and does not cause trouble. However, being 5years-old, he is very curious and found Fiona’s cocaine, which caused him to be in very critical care. He recovered but as a result, has cognitive developmental issues. Other than that, he is very sweet and lovable and everyone in the family always looks out for him,



Debbie is a 13-year-old teen who is rather blunt and very mature for her age. Although she is one one of the youngest, she is very outspoken as she was the president of her class and is always concerned about her family and their wellbeing. She is usually in charge of babysitting Liam or making sure he is at a babysitter. She is rather nosy so she is constantly asking questions. She is a blooming teenager with low self-esteem, trying to grow up too fast, and is anxious to getting her period and losing her virginity to a boy, because she believes that is what will make her into a woman. She is one of the only children who genuinely care for Frank, as she has an unconditional love for Frank. She is very caring, helpful, and has a soft spot for people who are going through troubled times. She is the type to skip school and just to spend time with someone if they are sad. However, with her becoming a teenager she has been snappy and more secretive as she is more interested in “girl things” such as boys, makeup, and losing her virginity.

CULTURE & TRADITIONS The Gallagher family are Irish American that identify as Catholics, but do not practice it. The Catholic priest and the Gallagher family have a relationship; however, they do not go to church/mass. They celebrate all of the holidays together, such as Christmas, and usually they say grace and have a meal together. Culture wise, they do not do anything specific keep in touch with their Irish descent per say. They live in a lowincome neighborhood in the Southside of Chicago, which they call the “projects.” They often excuse their behavior and decisions as “that’s what we do in the projects,” or “doing it the Gallagher way.” Although they struggle financially, they are rather content with what they have and they all try to chip in by putting whatever they want in the “squirrel fund,” which is a bucket of money used for important things like bills, rent, etc.



• They have no problem confronting each other • They are supportive and tell each other they are proud of each other • Some siblings are closer than others, therefore, their secrets and personal lives are usually shared with that sibling first before it gets to anyone else (ex: Lip and Ian) • There are typically no secrets withheld from one another • They are truthful with one another • Tend to use profanity a lot • When there is a family crisis, they usually sit at the kitchen table and discuss options together

• Can get violent/physical with each other when arguing • They give each other hugs • Usually cry in private or isolate themselves when sad • They will give each other the silent treatment or not come home for a few nights if they are mad • It is understood that food needs to be on the table, and even though Fiona is in charge of that, sometimes she is busy, so it is understood that the other siblings have to step up and prepare the food • Adding money to the “Squirrel fund” is a non-verbal way of the siblings saying that they are contributing and helping out the family financially • It is understood that spending money should be in the best interest of the family

FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY A CLOSER LOOK Lip goes to college and Ian leaves for the limitary= increased workload for Fiona

This theory recognizes that there are individuals within a family unit. The members of the family are interconnected and part of a larger system. It is often compared to a mobile, in terms of, all the different objects (family members) are part of the mobile (family unit), if something happens to one of the objects on the mobile, then the mobile will no longer be in balance. In the same way, if something was to happen to one family member, the rest will be affected. Thus the overall goal is to restore and maintain the stability of the family as a whole (Kaakinen, 2015, p 76). This theory will help understand how Frank’s alcoholism has impacted the Gallagher family as a whole and interventions will be focused on regaining the family’s stability. Frank’s alcoholism makes him incapable of taking care and providing for his children, which affects the children because Fiona (the eldest child), has to become the legal guardian and be responsible for them all. Thus, it is important to recognize the cause of his alcoholism, as well as how it has impacted each family member.

Fiona decided to party at the house, drink alcohol, do illicit drugs (cocaine). Liam finds the cocaine laying around in the house and accidentally ingested the cocaine, causing him to have cocaine toxicity and be critical care Fiona goes to jail and Lip has to leave college to go back home and take care of Debbie and Carl, while Liam is still in the hospital. When Liam is released, no one is able to babysit him, therefore Lip takes Liam with him to class and work. Meanwhile, Carl and Debbie cannot focus in school and the whole family is trying to find a lawyer in attempt to get Fiona released from jail RESULT: The choices that Fiona made almost caused Liam’s life. Luckily, he survived, however was told that he would have cognitive developmental issues. With Fiona being in jail, Lip had to come back home to care for Debbie, Carl, and Liam. Debbie and Carl were not able to do their role of going to school. While Lip was unable to fulfill his role of going to college and work, because he had Liam with him. Overall, the choices of one member, ultimately caused immense stress to the whole family, instability in the family, and inability to fulfill their individual roles.

FAMILY & DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES - DUVALL Families are constantly transitioning into different life events and going through life cycles together. Thus, the Duvall stages of the Developmental theory are different stages of life that help understand the normal family changes and the different events that they experience in a lifetime, together and as individuals. It recognizes that different stages of life may affect the relationships between members which may affect the family as a whole in terms of structure, function, and processes (Kaakinen, 2015, p 79). The Duvall stage that the Gallagher family is in is: Families with young adults: launching. This applies because although there are young children still in the house, Lip and Ian who were once able to help out with the family with tasks and finances, are no longer there. Lip left for college and Ian joined the military, which causes a shift in gears and making Fiona accountable for all finances. Two members of the family have left which caused a change in space, power, and communication. Due to Ian and Lip both moving out, Carl and Liam have more room space. Also, because Carl and Debbie are both hormonal teenagers, there is more fighting between them and less communication with their older sister Fiona (unless they’re asking for money). They choose to not tell Fiona so much because to them she is like their mom, so it does not seem cool to tell her such things. Carl and Debbie are forced to be a little more independent and alone because it is just them and Fiona. Fiona works a full time job at the office, so she cannot be around them as much as before.


• STRENGTHS: • • • •

• • •

They support each other and work together in any situation Good communication, they are honest with each other They have family friends (Kevin,Veronica, & Sheila), who are reliable, trustworthy, and help them with anything They are good at doing things the Gallagher way when needed (ex: scam for money when they are short of money for bills). Street smart They all love each other very much They do not let anyone mess with the family


• WEAKNESSES: • • • •

Finances/low-income à difficulty getting groceries and getting bills paid Drunk alcoholic father who is constantly causing drama No adult father/mother role model Live in the “projects,” “ghetto,” Southside,” where there are high crime rates and surrounded by bad influences





Assess and evaluate each individual family member’s emotions about alcoholism and coping strategies in a family session. As a family unit and according to Family Systems theory, it is important to understand each family member’s attitude and beliefs about alcoholism, and figure out how to intervene with each member to further create stability in the entire family, which overall increases its effectiveness. Also, by doing this in a family session can help improve interaction and communication between the children and Frank, as well as encourage them to be more transparent with one another (Daley, 2013). Assessing coping behaviors is also important because focusing improvement on coping behaviors can increase the chance of Frank staying abstinent (Sureshkumar et al., 2017).

Educate the Gallagher family on alcoholism and the effectiveness of family support. Educate the family on the symptoms, causes, and behavior of an alcoholic. By teaching the family about alcoholism, they will be able to understand alcoholism more as a disorder and why Frank is the way he is. Understanding a condition or disorder allows people to know how to deal with it more efficiently (Daley, 2013). Education can play a role in Frank’s recognition of his alcoholism and be more likely to accept treatment. Also, since Fiona, Lip, and Ian all drink alcohol occasionally and have done drugs, providing education on substance use disorder can be beneficial in preventing alcoholism and substance use disorder for them too, as children who has substance use disorder have a higher risk of developing it as well (Lander, Howsare, & Bryne, 2013). Provide affordable psychosocial interventions and encourage at least one family member to go with Frank each week when going to these therapy appointments. Frank has attempted to become sober before and has been to multiple AA meetings, but was not successful. Therefore, different intervention must be provided. Psychosocial intervention directly targets cognition and emotions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy includes contingency management, motivational interviewing, and brief interventions for alcohol and tobacco. These treatments are considered affordable, essential, and effective in promoting behavior change, as well as engaging in the treatment for a longer amount of time (Jhanjee, 2014). By requiring at least one family member to go with Frank to these sessions, it reinforces the idea of family support, which can further encourage Frank and empower the family member (Daley, 2013). It is understood that each member of the family has their own schedule, therefore it is only fair that if they agree to do this, that they should take turns.

O UT C O M E S By the end of the family session, each family member (except Liam because he cannot talk yet) will verbalize their emotions, concerns, and coping strategies pertaining to alcoholism. Each family member will know and understand how having an alcoholic parent has impacted them specifically and Frank will have the opportunity to share his problem.

By the end of the family session, each family member (except Liam), will be able to verbalize at least one thing that they learned about alcoholism/substance use disorder and importance of family support.

By the end of the family session, Frank will accept treatment and chose at least one therapy intervention to participate in,. Also, the siblings verbalize a schedule of who can go with Frank to an appointment each week.

REFE RENCES Daley, D. C. (2013). Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 21(4), 573-576. Ferraboli, C. R., Noeremberg Guimarães, A., Kolhs, M., Bernardi Galli, K. S., Noeremberg Guimarães, A., & Fernando Schneider, J. (2015). ALCOHOLISM AND FAMILY DYNAMICS: FEELINGS SHOWN. Ciencia, Cuidado E Saude, 14(4), 1555-1563. doi:10.4025/cienccuidsaude.v14i4.27245 Jhanjee, S. (2014). Evidence Based Psychosocial Interventions in Substance Use. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 36(2), 112–118. Kaakinen, J., Duff-Gedaly, V., Hanson, S. & Coelho, D. (2015) Family health Care nursing: Theory, practice and research (5th ed.). F.A. Davis: Philadelphia. 
 Lander, L., Howsare, J., & Byrne, M. (2013). The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice. Social Work in Public Health, 28(0), 194–205. Sureshkumar, K., Kailash, S., Dalal, P. K., Reddy, M. M., & Sinha, P. K. (2017). Psychosocial Factors Associated with Relapse in Patients with Alcohol Dependence. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 39(3), 312–315.

PICTURE REFERENCES • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Family Visual Report/The Gallagher Family  

N480 Family Assessment Visual Report/CSUSM

Family Visual Report/The Gallagher Family  

N480 Family Assessment Visual Report/CSUSM