Adrian is an attractive 18 year-old heterosexual, African American female, who presents to counseling at the request of her mother, who is concerned about her daughter’s uncharacteristically sad mood. Adrian recently moved away from home for the first time to attend a highly prestigious, private university on a full academic scholarship. In addition to being a straight “A” student and a double major in pre- medicine and law, Adrian in a member of the crew team and attends three hour- long practices on a daily basis.
While she has always been known as a naturally happy, optimistic individual, she states that her mother became concerned when she started sounding “down” and “irritable” during phone conversations. Adrian reports that she has been struggling with sleep difficulties, lack of concentration, depression, anxiety and severe feelings of loneliness since the beginning of the semester. During her third counseling session, she reveals that she feels as though she “doesn’t fit in or belong anywhere”- a feeling she attributes to being at least partially due to her ace.
Although the university is predominantly White and affluent, Adrian was approached by members of a Black sorority on campus and attended “rush week. ” Nile she initially felt hopeful that she would find friends who shared a similar background, she perceived herself to be an “outsider” among the sorority sisters because they were clearly of higher socioeconomic status. In regard to her socioeconomic status, Adrian self-identifies as low-to-working class; her mother Norms as a produce clerk at a local grocery store and her father is an auto mechanic.
She grew up in a poor, urban, and highly diverse immigrant neighborhood and was the only one of her friends or family to attend a four year college. In contrast, the majority of the students of color she has met on campus can afford tuition, laptops and designer clothes and have parents who are doctors or professors. Although her friends and family are extremely proud of her for earning an academic scholarship to one of the top-ranked institutions in the country, she reports feeling increasingly distant from them since they do not seem to understand her lifestyle or the current academic and social pressures she is experiencing.
Her father has always called Adrian his “shining star” and her mother always tells her to work hard and that her Intelligence is a “blessing to the entire family. ” Adrian was not offered a spot in the sack sorority, and states that she has not made any friends. The other women on her crew team are wealthy and Caucasian, and although they are very friendly and invite Adrian to events, she does not like to go because “all they do is drink to the point of getting sick. Adrian is an only child and states that her parents have always been purposive and proud of her, but were often busy and preoccupied with work. As a result, she states that she “learned to take care of myself” at an early age, often cooking herself dinner by the age of ten. Because her parents had to work long hours to make ends meet, she recalls spending most of her childhood days alone after getting home from school, and states that “l always felt weird for actually looking forward to going to school in the morning to receive reduced cost breakfast, because knew that I could see my friends and teachers. She reports that her goal and titivation is to become a stressful lawyer or doctor so seen can ultimately give back and support her parents and large extended family. Currently, she reports feeling “so sad that I do not want to get out of bed to go to class” and extremely anxious over her declining grades, which are still in the high “B” to low “A” range; however, she equates anything short of a 4. 0 GAP as “failing. ” Adrian brings food back to her dorm room and eats all of her meals alone because she feels embarrassed that she doesn’t have anyone to sit with in the dining hall.
She states that she only sleeps several hours each night due to her anxiety over what she perceives to be “unacceptable” academic performance and frequently wakes up drenched in sweat after having dreams that she has lost her scholarship. She denies any suicidal ideation, but states that she wishes she could “somehow turn off all of the swirling negative thoughts in my head” and “Just feel normal again. ” While she initially seemed somewhat ambivalent and anxious about receiving therapy, she appears to be highly motivated to work on her issues and has attended all of her sessions.