Case Equally important, they were both second born










Case Study #1

Melissa Schultz

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Liberty University


Case Study #1

Study Summary

            To understand the problems within
Walter and Pam’s relationship there must be an understanding of their
background, strengths, and weaknesses, which is found by reviewing their report
provided by Olson (2017).  Within these
areas, there are also discoveries of how each individual may add conflict to
the relationship.  Overall, having a
grasp on who Walter and Pam are as individuals and as a couple will assist the
counselor in knowing what areas to focus on, in order to improve their


            Walter and Pam’s background shows a
variety of differences, but also some similarities.  The first difference between Pam and Walter
is their ethnic background; she is Caucasian and he holds multiple ethnicities.  Both individuals may try to integrate their
heritages within the household, causing conflict within the relationship if
each person holds different expectations of how the household should operate.  Other differences between the couple is the
amount of education they completed, along with their career fields, employment,
and income.  Walter graduated from high
school, works for the government full-time as an executive leader, and makes
approximately $75,000 to $99,999 yearly. 
Pam pursued some higher education, works for herself part-time in a
professional field, and makes anywhere between $20,000 and $29,999 yearly.  With Walter holding the highest income within
the household he may feel the need to take control of multiple areas within the
relationship, making Pam feel as though she is under his wings and must submit
to him.  This could cause conflict when
Pam tries to voice her concerns or ideas to Walter, and finds him unsupportive
or avoidant.  Despite their differences,
Walter and Pam have two children, been married for roughly 31 to 40 years, and
live in the suburbs.  They also hold
Christian beliefs, have not been married previously, and range from 51 to 60
years old.  Equally important, they were
both second born in their large families and their biological parents played a
great role in their childhood.  These
similarities may be the reasoning as to why the couple showed higher
satisfaction in role transitions and spiritual beliefs.  


            The couple’s report shows a couple of
areas they see eye to eye on and are therefore their strength areas.  As stated previously, role transitions and
spiritual beliefs are the strongest areas within their relationship.  The main concern with role transitions is how
Pam may not fully agree with her role within the family dynamic.  Pam may feel her skills are not being fully
utilized within the family, but instead of voicing this to Walter, she might
keep these thoughts to herself and build up anger towards Walter.  Both individuals also mentioned concerns with
flexibility towards change.  If change is
needed to better their relationship, they may find themselves in constant
conflict from unresolved problems they continue to experience.  Reviewing spiritual beliefs, Pam appears to
feel distant from Walter in this area because of some differences they may
have.  Walter and Pam may experience anxiety
when discussing these disagreements, potentially leading to conflict.


            Walter and Pam’s report shows them to
be a conflicted couple, experiencing “a lower level of satisfaction and often
struggle with many areas of their relationship” (p. 4).  For this reason, they do have an array of
areas to grow in.  First, communication
shows many disagreements and as highly dissatisfying for Pam.  She seems to struggle with avoidance when it
comes to sharing her feelings and requests with Walter, while also showing
distrust in Walter’s shared thoughts or feelings.  Similarly, she dislikes how Walter may not
disclose everything to her and would like to improve their conversations.  Walter also wishes Pam were more
understanding and open with him.  Pam is
most likely reluctant to offer her feelings or ideas in every discussion due to
previous abuse from her family and Walter. 
At the same time, Walter may feel isolated to express his emotions if
Pam has distanced herself from him during conversations.  With communication being a struggle for
Walter and Pam, they may encounter unsettled concerns within the relationship
often, which may lead them to continuous resentment towards one another. 

            Second, Walter and Pam showed to
disagree greatly when it came to forgiveness and have room for improvement in
this area.  Both individuals hold onto
previous arguments, actions, and pain. 
However, Pam expressed tension and distance when conflict is supposedly
resolved.  She indicated that they
struggle to overcome conflict, and that Walter may hold animosity and fail to
apologize or forgive at times as well. 
Similar to the communication category, Pam distrusts Walter in certain
situations because of the actions she has seen him illustrate.  Walter clearly noted how previous actions are
not always fully buried, even after being forgiven.  If Walter and Pam are always opening old
wounds, there is an opportunity for them to find themselves arguing over the
same issues and feel punished, trapped, depressed.  Eventually, after fighting over the same
problems they may only see one way out by filing for a divorce.  Their differences in forgiveness may be from
the upbringing of different ethnicities and cultures, along with their opposite
personalities that are discussed in the next section.

            A third weakness found within Walter
and Pam’s assessment was their partner style and habits.  Pam showed the most concern when it came to
Walter’s behaviors, conveying him as stubborn, hotheaded, unreliable, negative,
and isolated.  Both individuals
communicated that one another hold irritating habits, mood swings, and control.  These indications may be partially correlated
to Pam’s previous “alcohol or drug use” or Walter’s “unhealthy sexual behavior
or use of pornography” (p. 7).  In
essence, if one of them feel the other has not behaved in the same manner as
they would have, then further conflict and disappointment may form within the

            Fourth and finally, another area
that needs to be strengthened within the relationship would be conflict
resolution.  This is because of the list
of stressors Pam expressed in the assessment and Walter showing potential harm
towards Pam during conflict.  Moreover, Walter
and Pam have varying ideas on what disagreements are important and how to resolve
them properly.  Conflict that goes
unresolved within their relationship may cause Pam to continue to feel stressed,
while Walter feels unheard and angry towards Pam.


            Reviewing Walter and Pam’s
personality assessments provided by Olson (2017) is crucial, in order to
understand how conflict arises within their relationship.  Moreover, analyzing their personalities gives
a visual of how they overcome conflict.  The
SCOPE personality assessment makes it possible to comprehend Walter and Pam’s
personalities by measuring the following topics: social, change, organization, pleasing,
and emotional steadiness.  The assessment
results are discussed below, along with a breakdown of how each individual
contributes and recovers from conflict within the relationship.

Walter’s SCOPE
Personality Results

            The first area of focus is Walter’s
sociability results, where he is found to be an introvert.  This personality type finds minimal
socializing and alone time as enjoyable, but can become distant if they
experience something unexpected or feel unsteady.  Walter also showed a low score when it comes
to change, which means he can be highly drawn to previous experiences or tradition
and reluctant to new places or adventures. 
When it comes to organization, Walter creates and follows goals, while being
reliable and open to elasticity.  His
level of organization may be all over the place at times due to his
flexibility, but that does not decrease his persistency.  Unfortunately, the pleasing category of the
personality assessment showed Walter tends to illustrate negative feelings from
his assertiveness, and can be controlling towards Pam, family, friends, and
co-workers.  Lastly, Walter’s personality
scale displayed how his emotions can change quickly when an event out of
routine happens; causing him to experience a high amount of stress that
negatively affects his mental health.  He
is more prone to “anxiety, anger, or depression when faced with stressful
situations” (p. 24).

Pam’s SCOPE Personality Results

            Examining Pam’s social scale, she is
considered an extrovert who enjoys being around others and is energized from
doing so.  However, in vulnerable
situations she may feel the need to have all eyes on her.  In regards to change, Pam finds never-done
experiences as exciting and is open-minded towards change, but can go overboard
and make changes that others may find unnecessary.  Pam also places a high importance on organization,
creating detailed plans to ensure she meets her goals.  Consequently, some may view her heart to
always meet goals and develop plans as extreme. 
Pam’s pleasing scale showed her to be someone who will speak up.  Typically, she is friendly and harmonious
towards others, showing an adamant attitude here and there.  The final section of Pam’s personality
assessment displays her to be unshaken by anything life may throw at her, so
her emotions are not affected from stress or new events in life.    

Conflict Contributions
& Recovery

            After reviewing Walter and Pam’s
results from the SCOPE personality assessment there is an easier understanding
of how each of them add to conflict within the relationship, along with how
they both personally recover from situations within the relationship.  When looking at Walter’s social level, he may
be distant about certain issues that arise with Pam, throwing his hands up during
their discussion together and leave the problem unsolved.  Eventually, this may cause more conflict
within their relationship when the concern arises again.  Based on Walter’s low score towards change,
he may also appear reluctant towards new ideas that could potentially better
his relationship with Pam.  For example,
if Pam creates a communication board and places it on the fridge in their
kitchen to help them keep each other updated between jobs, but Walter refuses
to leave her any messages on it.  Pam may
become frustrated with Walter’s negativity and inability to attempt her new idea.  In addition, disputes may occur within the
relationship due to Walter’s average organization level.  He may not complete tasks as quickly or
organized as Pam would like, then creating tension or stress within their
relationship.  The biggest area of concern
when looking at Walter’s personality assessment results is his low levels in pleasing
and emotionally steady categories.  He
may typically control Pam, place his anger on her, or be unwilling to budge in
many areas of their relationship, in belief that he is in the right.  These actions can lead Pam to express
feelings of disrespect or harm, causing potential strife and Walter’s emotions to

            With Walter and Pam’s SCOPE
personality assessments varying greatly, it is also critical to analyze how Pam
may bring about conflict and how she overcomes any hiccups in the relationship.  With Pam’s high social score when a
disagreement or unexpected event occurs with Walter she may voice ignorant
statements that easily offends Walter. 
Her shallowness may cause arguments instead of healthy discussions to create
solutions for problems within their relationship.  Unlike Walter’s low score on change, Pam
holds a high score and could develop new experiences that Walter finds
overwhelming.  Walter may then express
his feelings of disagreement and find Pam to be unmoving with her suggestions,
which causes both individuals to feel misunderstood.  Additionally, Pam’s high organization score may
come across as excessive, nagging, or controlling to Walter and lead him to
illustrate resentment towards her.  She
may also convey dissatisfaction towards Walter due to his organizational
standards being different from hers. 
Furthermore, Pam may bring about unnecessary arguments with her average
score on pleasing because of her unwillingness to potentially compromise with
Walter when it comes to decision making. 
Pam and Walter were on opposite ends when it came to the emotionally
steady category, and therefore her unchanging reactions may cause Walter to believe
she is not engaged in the relationship at times.  

            Truly, Walter and Pam’s
personalities will cause them to react differently when it comes to recovery
within their relationship.  Both individuals
may show forgiveness when recovering from conflict, but Walter is more likely
to show resentment and control towards Pam during recovery.  He may continue to bring up previous conflict
and blame Pam for any future problems that arise within relationship, since he
tends to avoid changes or admitting his mistakes.  On the other hand, Pam may be internally
frustrated after unresolved conflict and follow Walter’s plans because of his
assertiveness or control.  She may also
doubt Walter’s future opinions or actions due to his past and unwillingness to
resolve issues.  In summary, the recovery
period for Walter and Pam currently leaves opportunity for further conflict to
occur within the relationship.

of Action

            Solution-focused therapy and a
combination of Olson’s (2017) Prepare/Enrich exercises would be the best
approach to utilize with Walter and Pam. 
Solution-focused therapy would allow the couple to move away from their
past and towards change (Goldenberg, Stanton, & Goldenberg, 2016).  As a solution-focused counselor, there is a
need to “listen to the language used as families describe their situations and
the conflict resolution they hope to achieve” (Goldenberg et al., 2016, p. 351).  Based on Walter and Pam’s assessment, the
main areas to focus on within counseling would be communication, forgiveness,
partner style and habits, and conflict resolution (Olson, 2017).  Below is a breakdown of how therapy would be
conducted, by handling these issues with a solution-focused approach and
techniques from Olson’s (2017) Prepare/Enrich program. 

Beginning Counseling

            After receiving and thoroughly
reviewing Walter and Pam’s report, the counseling process may begin.  Before jumping into discussions about
communication, forgiveness, partner and style habits, and conflict resolution a
crucial technique must occur—the miracle question (Hosany, Wellman, & Lowe,
2007).  This is where both individuals
are required to verbalize their ideal future for themselves and as a couple (Hosany
et al., 2007).  As a result, the couple
will begin to develop a positive outlook for their future, become motivated about
the counseling process, and have a clear vision of what they hope to achieve in
counseling (Hosany et al., 2007).


Once Walter and Pam’s future vision is
fully voiced and understood they would then complete a wish list, writing down
actions each would prefer to see an increase of within the relationship (Olson,
2017).  After, the couple will take turns
sharing their wish lists aloud with one another.  This process will especially help Pam develop
the assertiveness needed to discuss needs, wants, or concerns in future
conversations with Walter (Olson, 2017). 
As well, as better their active listening skills when they provide
positive feedback to one another about their wish lists (Olson, 2017).  Outside of counseling, the couple would be advised
to share a few minutes each day of any positives that took place within their
relationship (Olson, 2017).  An example
of this would be Walter telling Pam how he appreciates her having dinner ready
by the time he got home from work, and then asking her “How can I help you with
dinner tomorrow?” (Olson, 2017).  These
discussions will help shift Walter and Pam’s communication skills in a
healthier direction, and “increase intrinsic motivation to support
self-efficacy” (Stermensky & Brown, 2017, p. 383).   

Partner Style &

would utilize parts of the “Ten Steps for Resolving Conflict” by Olson (2017,
p. 13), since solution-focused therapy partially relies on coming up with
resolutions to prevent future conflict (Seponski, 2016).  Specifically, I would utilize steps 5-8
(Olson, 2017).

Forgiveness & Conflict

            Since these areas have similar
exercises, they would be focused on at the same time.  To address these struggles within Walter and
Pam’s relationship discussion would need to take place on how the two feel when
they are forgiven and when they forgive each other (Olson, 2017).  This conversation can help them see the
benefits of forgiveness and grace, preventing less conflict in the future on
items they might have brought up previously that were from the past.  As the counselor, one suggestion that will be
given to the couple is “How to Take a Time-Out” (Olson, 2017, p. 14).  A conversation on how they may think this
exercise could benefit them would also occur.




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D. M. (2016). A feminist-informed integration of emotionally docused and
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