Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is set during the climax of the Second Wizarding War with Harry Potter and his allies, members of the Order of the Phoenix, struggling to defeat the dark wizard known as Lord Voldemort and his followers, including his inner circle of the Death Eaters. While it would have been easier to choose the Weasley family and their recent losses or any other Wizarding family who shares my ideals of equality and justice, I feel that I will benefit much more as a student and as a counselor by choosing a family that is more challenging to me. The Malfoy family is heavily involved with Lord Voldemort, with Lucius Malfoy having become a Death Eater prior to the First Warding War several years earlier and Draco having been initiated recently. The immediate Malfoy family consists of Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Black Malfoy, and their son, Draco Lucius Malfoy (Barron & Yates, 2011).
It is important to note that any first reactions I may have had were drawn a very long time ago as a result of reading each book in the Harry Potter series multiple times and viewing each film multiple times. As that is the case, it was very difficult for me to base my reactions solely on the information presented in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two. As such, I have included citations in the reference section for every Harry Potter book and movie since each of them has shaped my views on and understanding of the Malfoys.
Lucius Malfoy is severe and sinister in demeanor. He prides himself on being a pure-blood and is a member of the social elite. He is an only child and grew up in a position of wealth and privilege. He is often psychologically and physically abusive to his son, Draco, and has great pride and satisfaction about the fact that he is a Death Eater, one of the members of Lord Voldemort’s inner circle. Lord Voldemort and his followers subscribed to the ideas of sadism, elitism, and the torture and elimination of the inferior race of non-magical beings known as Muggles. They used extreme means to get what they wanted, often using the three unforgivable curses to control, manipulate, torture, and kill Muggles and Muggle Sympathizers. Lucius is wealthy, very well connected to members of other pure-blood families, and has a strong sense of entitlement. It is important to him to have power within his family, his community, and his world. He has long blonde hair and is thin and tall. Throughout Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 he appeared in various levels of disarray, dishevelment, and injury, which speaks to how much his status has changed since Voldemort’s return to power. (Barron & Yates, 2011).
Narcissa Black Malfoy has two sisters, Bellatrix Black Lestrange and Andromeda Black Tonks. Narcissa and Bellatrix both married pure-bloods while Andromeda married a Muggle-born man and became a member of The Order of The Phoenix, the resistance movement against Lord Voldemort. Bellatrix became a Death Eater, and Narcissa, though never officially becoming a Death Eater herself, supported her husband’s choice to join Lord Voldemort and believed in the importance of blood purity. At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, Narcissa chose to lie to Lord Voldemort to find out whether or not her son was still alive, showing that her top priority is actually taking care of her family (Barron & Yates, 2011).
Draco Malfoy has a history of bullying and tormenting other students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry based on their blood purity status and the blood status of those they choose to associate with. As Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy’s only child, he was raised to believe in the power and importance of maintaining a pure-blood lineage and to believe that non pure-bloods were inferior to him and those like him. After actually becoming a Death Eater himself, Draco was unable to complete his task of murdering Albus Dumbledore and completed his other tasks out of fear. He was rescued from a death by fire by his rival, Harry Potter, and was reluctant to physically walk over to Lord Voldemort’s side when asked to do so during the battle (Barron & Yates, 2011).
Possible Counseling Implications
The Malfoy family is highly dysfunctional and displays a great deal of enmeshment between its members. Lucius has been a part of a hate organization since before Draco was born and Narcissa has supported Lucius every step of the way. Since the success of the family has been tied so closely to the success of Lord Voldemort in the past, it will be important to explore what will happen to the Malfoys now that Lord Voldemort is no longer in power and is no longer a threat to their safety and well-being. Lucius’ physical and emotional abuse of Draco should be examined and a safety assessment should be conducted. The counselor should also assess for domestic abuse between Lucius and Narcissa.
It will be important to explore whether or not the family members have any feelings about their involvement in the Second Wizarding War and to explore any feelings of shame or guilt that may arise. While the Malfoys have several risk factors to their success as a healthy family, protective factors include Narcissa’s willingness to risk everything for the safety of her family and Draco’s insincerity about his involvement with the Death Eaters once he discovered what the organization was really all about.
A potential counselor for the Malfoy family should note that it is quite possible that Lucius Malfoy could have to undertake court mandated individual personal counseling to avoid being sentenced to Azkaban, the Wizarding prison. It can be expected that Narcissa will be the most open to counseling as protecting her family is her top priority. She would likely be the family member to push the others to go to counseling as she has shown the most investment in protecting her family and helping them heal and grow. Lucius didn’t seem to believe he had done anything wrong following the First Wizarding War and his level of personal acceptance for the atrocities committed this time around are likely to be low. He will likely be incredibly resistant to counseling and there is a distinct possibility that he feels counseling is below him, particularly since he holds himself in such high regard. Draco will probably be resistant at first, but resigned to the idea of counseling and hopeful about helping his family change. All three of the Malfoy family members would be excellent candidates for individual counseling as well, which it could be best to complete prior to family counseling so that each of them may see his or her own role in the family a little more clearly.
Choice of Film
I chose this film because I absolutely adore all things related to the Harry Potter universe and I believe that the Malfoys could definitely use some family therapy. I am interested in exploring the dynamics of the Malfoys after the Second Wizarding War. In this particular film, Lucius Malfoy is in constant danger of being killed by his leader for being unable to accomplish tasks effectively, which puts Draco at risk for Voldemort’s wrath. Narcissa ultimately lies to Lord Voldemort to protect her son, proving that she may have some redeemable traits, while Draco doesn’t seem completely convinced that siding with Voldemort is the right choice. I am very interested in exploring the enmeshment and unhealthy behaviors attributed to the Malfoy family and their extended family.
I specifically chose the very last of the Harry Potter films as it allows for the most history and knowledge base of the Malfoy family. Draco’s parents were not introduced in the storyline until after the first film and the most information has been learned about them in the later end of the series. It made sense to choose this film as opposed to another since I already have a substantial working knowledge of the Malfoy family and it would be hard to identify what information I should know based solely on what was presented at the end of any of the other movies.
Family’s Life Cycle or Developmental Stage
The Malfoy family would fall somewhere between the families with teenagers stage and the families as launching centers stage on the family life cycle model. One of the tasks for families with teenagers is balancing a teenager’s freedom and responsibilities while maintaining a healthy parental relationship and listening with respect to the teenager. This task has not been met by the Malfoys as the entire family is incredibly enmeshed. Specifically, Lucius seeks power over both Narcissa and Draco and does not seem willing to relinquish that power. This goes as far as Lucius encouraging Draco to become a Death Eater and risking his safety for the possibility of even more power. Despite Draco feeling uncertain about his involvement with the Death Eaters, his father pushes him to do his duty and is unreceptive to listening to Draco’s concerns. On the part of Lucius and Narcissa, it is debatable about whether or not they have met the task of identifying and pursuing post-child-rearing interests and hobbies effectively. While Lucius and Narcissa were very involved with Voldemort and his closest circle of followers, that part of their identity has now drastically changed as it is no longer socially acceptable for them to support Voldemort and several of their family friends have been killed or sent to prison.
Draco has been off at boarding school for seven years and is around the age of seventeen, which is the point at which young wizards and witches are seen as adults. As his formal schooling is over, it will be time for him to find a job and his own place to live. Narcissa may struggle with the idea of an empty nest, particularly since she has experienced such intense self-growth and change recently. It is reasonable to assume that Lucius will be very angry at Narcissa, as her actions directly enabled Harry Potter to kill Lord Voldemort. When faced with the choice of power or the safety of her son, Narcissa chose her family and lied to Voldemort about Harry being alive, which allowed him to destroy the remaining horcruxes and defeat Voldemort. With so many inward struggles between Narcissa and Lucius, it is probable that they will struggle with the task of maintaining a supportive home base for their recently launched child. Lucius tries to exert power and control over his wife and his son, which may mean that he sees the family life cycle stage very differently from how Draco and Narcissa see it. He will likely be very resistant to any changes that could upset the balance of power within the family.
As the Malfoys are somewhat between two stages in the family development cycle, it will be interesting to see their family development going forward. The fact that they have not been a cohesive or supportive family unit in the past could be a risk factor for potential barriers to growth and healing through counseling and after counseling ends. Narcissa’s decision to protect her family over seeking power and appeasing her husband, though potentially problematic in the parental alliance, could also be seen as a strong protective factor due to her dedication to helping her family heal and grow.
Relevant Cultural Concerns
With Voldemort’s demise came a return to policies in the Ministry of Magic respecting Muggles, Muggle-borns, those without pure blood, and magical creatures. With a reign of terror and corruption ending, many changes are being made to the way the government is run. Voldemort appears to really be gone for good this time and Lucius will have to adjust to being a member of a society without his hate group in power. The Malfoys will likely be ostracized, cast out, and strongly disliked for the role they played in helping Voldemort return to power. Lucius’ status in society is very comparable to that of a Nazi officer following the end of World War II, which could have far reaching negative implications for his family as well.
A further cultural concern would be the blood status of the counselor. The Malfoys are unlikely to be open to working with anyone other than a pureblood witch or wizard. As many pureblood witches and wizards were involved with Voldemort and therefore also suffered the consequences of his demise, it may be difficult to find a counselor who the Malfoys are willing to work with. It will be important for any counselor to meet the Malfoys where they are and be empathetic to their thoughts and feelings. Counseling a family whose patriarch is so full of hatred from those different from himself could be a potential challenge to even the most experienced counselors.
The Malfoys are not religious but hold very strong beliefs about status and power. As the Malfoys are not religious, it would be very important for the therapist to not make any assumptions or bring religion into the room without the Malfoys mentioning it first. The Malfoys’ high socioeconomic status is a factor to consider when developing their narrative and analyzing unproductive behaviors.
While I would very much like to utilize a feminist-lens approach to narrative family therapy, I do not feel that doing so would be beneficial to or received effectively by the Malfoy family, particularly Lucius. It is particularly difficult for me to separate my own beliefs and feelings when counseling this family because I know so much about the world they live in and the struggles of other Wizarding families to fight for equality and acceptance. I have chosen a narrative theoretical approach as it could be useful in helping the Malfoys to separate the people from the problem behaviors and rebuild their family. If the Malfoys were to look just at the people in their family rather than the behaviors of those people, it could be problematic for their forgiveness, acceptance, and healing processes.
View of Human Nature
According to narrative family theory, individuals organize their history into narrative stories created by the experiences they have had in life. In the narrative approach, individuals are not seen as the problem. Instead, an individual’s problematic behavior is seen as the problem and is separated from the person to be examined as its own entity. The narrative approach holds an optimistic and positive view of human nature. This could be helpful to the Malfoys as the therapist could identify members of the family as good people who made bad decisions and participated in bad behaviors rather than identifying them as bad people.
Role of the Therapist
The role of the therapist in narrative therapy is to help the clients reframe the way that they view individuals and their undesirable behaviors. Therapists with a narrative focus believe that reality is subjective and is constructed by the beliefs, experiences, values, and actions of the members of a family. It is the therapists’ job to identify exceptions to problems the family experiences and to help the clients differentiate between a person and his or her behavior. The therapist sees the problematic behavior as a barrier to family growth and seeks to eliminate problem behaviors to help the family re-write and collaboratively re-author their life stories. In doing so, the therapist allows for the family to create new narratives where they have control over their problems instead of the problems having control over the family members.
Concept of Change
Change is brought about by examining past experiences, creating alternative reactions to them, and empowering clients to shift from focusing on negative aspects of their family unit to focusing on their strengths and resiliency factors. Providing clients with the information needed to separate a person from his or her problematic behavior enables them to hold hope and be able to change. Change occurs when family members acknowledge that a person is not solely his or her behavior and come up with alternative responses to recurring issues. In allowing the family members to collaboratively approach problems without placing blame on any one individual, the family is enabled to become more cohesive and continue to grow. The problems are addressed in terms of the meaning of the problems and the exceptions to the problems rather than in terms of who caused the problem in the first place.
Role of the Family in Counseling Sessions
The role of the family in counseling sessions is to work as a collaborative unit to identify problematic behaviors, separate them from the individual who is behaving that way, identify times when the problem hasn’t occurred, and collaboratively restructure their family story. Family members share their experiences of certain events to help other members with perspective taking and to develop a sense of control over their problems. This is accomplished by creating a safe, supportive, accepting space for family members to disclose their feelings and experiences so that they may explore patterns.
My overall treatment plan for the Malfoy family is to create a space where they feel comfortable discussing their problems and their unproductive behaviors in a way that reflects on their choices rather than on their core identities. I believe a lot of progress can be made if and when the Malfoy family chooses to externalize their issues and collaborate to help their family grow and heal from the problems and circumstances they have experienced. As all of the family members have recently been in the middle of a battle that resulted in casualties, it is important to realize that they may experience some symptoms of PTSD, which could individual therapy beneficial to each of them as well.
My main goal as the family therapist is to create a safe, supportive, and accepting space for the Malfoy family to disclose their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Only after this is accomplished will I be able to complete my secondary goal of developing healthy communication patterns and externalizing problems so that the Malfoys can still feel a sense of worth as individuals and as members of their family unit. Another secondary goal I hold as the therapist is that the Malfoy family members learn to accept and appreciate each other and distinguish Lucius’ unproductive behavior from his identity as a member of the family. As Lucius’ Death Eater past is such a huge part of his identity, counseling this family could be very difficult.
Unconditional positive regard and empathy will be crucial to creating a safe space for the family to heal and grow. Holding the family members accountable for actions rather than judging the individual because of his or her actions is an intervention I would be eager to use with this family. I would also like to elicit the family narrative from its members then deconstruct it to further separate individuals from their unproductive behaviors. This would allow the family to envision and collaboratively create a new family narrative. I would utilize the intervention of raising dilemmas to help the Malfoys prepare for future problematic situations. In asking them to consider problems and potential outcomes ahead of time, they could be better prepared to truly consider every possibility before jumping to unproductive solutions to problems.
My main concern in working with this family is the amount of resistance I am likely to meet with Draco and Lucius. While Narcissa seems to be in a place where she is ready to change and Draco seems to be drawing closer to that place, Lucius’ stage of change may not be conducive to conducting family therapy quite yet. It will be a challenge to get Lucius to buy in to therapy as he will want to make sure that he maintains his power over the other family members.
Set up: After an initial meeting with the Malfoy family, I have discovered that they are seeking counseling at Narcissa’s insistence. In the initial meeting, Narcissa and Draco were the only two present. I really made some headway with gaining Draco’s trust and he and Narcissa both shared openly about their thoughts and feelings. In the second session, Lucius came, too. Draco seemed bored and was not fully engaged in the first session where his father was present. Lucius was angry at his wife’s insistence that they come to therapy or they separate, but still made the choice to come rather than to leave his wife and child.
CO = Counselor
NM= Narcissa Malfoy
DM= Draco Malfoy
LM= Lucius Malfoy
Italicized = Counselor intentions
CO: Draco, I notice that you are looking out the window and don’t seem very interested in this conversation. Tell me what you are thinking right now?
Attempt to bring the client into the here and now.
DM: (Glares at me) This is pointless. We have lost our former glory, the mudbloods are now in charge of how my world will be run, and my enemy saved my life. I wanted to kill Dumbledore, but I wasn’t strong enough. Now my family has lost everything because I was useless.
CO: You feel useless because you chose not to kill Albus Dumbledore. How come you wanted to kill him?
Reflection of feeling and search for clarification
DM: I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted to do what the Dark Lord asked of me. If I had been able to do it, the Dark Lord wouldn’t have gotten so pissed at my dad and things would be completely different now.
CO: So it sounds like you don’t feel useless for not killing Dumbledore, but rather for not giving Voldemort what he wanted. I want to come back to this idea of yours that your choice makes you useless. What about your choice makes you useless?
Reflection of content and probe for clarification
DM: I don’t know.
CO: Narcissa, I’m wondering how it made you feel to hear Draco refer to himself as useless.
Probe to bring other members of the family into the conversation
LM: The boy is useless! He had one job….one….and he blew it for all of us.
NM: Lucius, that isn’t fair!
CO: Lucius, I appreciate your willingness to share. Last week we discussed that you are here because Narcissa gave you an ultimatum of coming to therapy or separating.
Validation to encourage Lucius to continue to share; reflection of content covered in previous session
LM: I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to come here on my own and now I am being forced into this. Are you actually naive enough to think that you are capable of making me change?
CO: You had a choice between coming to counseling and working on rebuilding your family or separating from your wife and moving out. You could have chosen the easy way out that didn’t require discomfort or challenge, but you chose your family. Based on what was shared in last session, I would say that you have already changed some, though that wasn’t my doing. I don’t have the power to make anyone change, Lucius. Only you have the power to change yourself.
Reflection of actions and empowerment of the client
LM: (Scoffs and rolls his eyes)
CO: I would like to return to you, Narcissa. How did it make you feel to hear Draco call himself useless?
Attempt to redirect the clients to focus on separating an individual from his or her actions
NM: It hurt! Draco isn’t useless. He is a strong, brave, dedicated young man. He showed more strength by refusing to kill Dumbledore than he would have by actually killing him. He’s my child. I don’t ever want him to have to live through the pain and regret of taking another’s life.
LM: Listen to you two ungrateful idiots. It was an honor to help the Dark Lord. My only regret is that we failed miserably. And Narcissa….you, my own wife. You lied to the Dark Lord and allowed that sniveling Potter boy to kill him.
CO: It sounds like Narcissa and Draco have regrets about the part they played while you have regrets about the outcome, Lucius.
Reflection of feelings and meanings and attempt to get Lucius involved in a productive conversation
LM: Of course I have regrets about the outcome! The Dark Lord is gone, forever this time. I have lost everything!
CO: I’m wondering what it was like for Narcissa and Draco to hear you say that you lost everything.
Bringing the conversation back into the here and now
NM: Lucius….Draco and I are still here. How could you say that you lost everything? All three of us are alive, none of us is in prison, and we are being given a second chance.
DM: He did lose everything that is important to him! All he cares about is himself, his power, and his money! He’s so selfish!
CO: It sounds like you think that your dad made some selfish choices.
Reflection of thoughts
DM: Yeah he did. He didn’t think about me or mom at all. All he cares about is himself and getting as much power as he can.
CO: I want to return to what we talked about last week. Last week, we agreed that actions don’t define a person and that bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things. How could you separate Lucius’ behavior from who he is as a person?
Probe to achieve secondary goal
DM: I can’t. That’s really just who he is.
LM: (Glares at Draco) You ungrateful little twit. You would have nothing without me. No money, no power….nothing.
CO: Lucius, it sounds like you believe your behavior was all to help your family.
LM: Of course it was to help my family.
CO: So it seems like everyone in this room was just trying to do what he or she thought was best for this family. While the actual behaviors that occurred from the choices made may not be something you all agree on, you seem to all agree that your family is worth making sacrifices for.
Attempt to separate choices and behaviors from intentions
NM: Of course our family is worth making sacrifices for. I don’t care about money or power. Not anymore. I am just happy that we are all still alive.
CO: Draco….what are you thinking right now.
Probe to involve another member of the family
DM: I hadn’t thought of it that way. That still doesn’t make the way that dad treats us okay though.
CO: So even though his motives may be similar to yours, you disagree with the way he treats you. Tell me a little more about that.
Reflection and probe
DM: He is always mean to me and mum. He treats us like we are stupid and incompetent. He ridicules everything we do and everything we say.
LM: Well, if you could do anything right, that wouldn’t be a problem.
CO: Lucius, it sounds like it is very hurtful to your family members when you make statements like that. Where do those statements come from?
Reflection of feeling and probe
LM: I want our family to be strong and powerful. I want the Malfoy name to be respected and feared.
CO: What is it about being respected and powerful that is so appealing to you?
Probe for clarification
LM: When you’re at the top of the food chain, no one is hunting you.
CO: So it sounds like you really care about protecting your family from other people.
CO: So Draco and Narcissa, can you see how maybe Lucius’ statements and actions don’t align with who he is as a person?
Attempt to help clients differentiate between a person and his actions.
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