Skip to main content


201: Spousal Abuse - Family in Crisis

202: Sex, Marriage and Illness

203: Spousal Abuse - First Disclosure

205: Spousal Abuse & Pregnancy

206: Family Dealing with Terminal Illness

208: Spousal Abuse - Effect on Child Behaviour

210: Gay-Positive Parenting

213: Overwhelmed Mother

214: Post-Partum

403: High Level Promotion - Family Dynamics

501: Sexual Intimacy and Terminal Illness



201: Spousal Abuse - Family in Crisis

This woman is afraid her husband will hurt their children but can’t bring herself to leave him. A counselor needs to help her understand her situation for what it is and discuss her options.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: establishing rapport, building trust, considering options, identifying issues, creating a safe environment

SIMULATOR ROLE:         Helen Dagge - mid thirties

LEARNER ROLE:            Counselor, Nurse

SETTING:                     Local Community Centre or Walk-in Clinic

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Helen Dagge made an appointment to see you, the local nurse/social worker/counsellor, at the Community Centre Health Drop In Clinic.  She wants to discuss some family matters; specifically how to better reach out to and communicate with her teen-aged son.

Return to Top


202: Sex, Marriage and Illness

This married couple wants to rekindle their sex life after the husband’s heart attack.  They are very uncomfortable discussing sex and yet realize the need for help.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  demonstrating professionalism, conveying empathy, asking direct and open-ended questions, encouraging dialogue, identifying differing perceptions

SIMULATOR ROLES:     Bill Lee (54)

                                    Martha Lee (52)

STUDENT ROLE:          Counselor/ Nurse

SETTING:                      Sexual health clinic at hospital or family services setting

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS:           The Lees are seeking information and advice about their sex life, or lack thereof.  Bill had a severe heart attack 4 years ago.  Martha has encouraged him to attend this appointment with her.

Return to Top


203: Spousal Abuse - First Disclosure

This woman is afraid that things with her abusive husband are getting worse, but she blames herself for it.  She needs someone to help her see the situation for what it is.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  creating a safe environment, establishing rapport, encouraging dialogue, asking direct and open-ended questions, conveying support

SIMULATOR ROLE:       Margaret Simeon (40 to 45)

LEARNER ROLE:          Counselor / Nurse

SETTING:                      Family services counseling office or walk-in clinic in Toronto. Margaret

lives in Oakville.

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Margaret wants to speak with someone about her concern regarding her children. Both boys are showing aggressive tendencies and she needs to know whether this is “normal” teenage behaviour.

Return to Top


205: Spousal Abuse & Pregnancy                                          

This simulation was developed in collaboration with the Midwifery Program at Ryerson University and Pam Cross from Metrac.

This woman is pregnant with her third child and is being abused by her husband. She needs someone to help her admit what is happening and realize that action must be taken.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  listening skills, developing trust, demonstrating empathy, responding to non-verbal cues, identifying issues, defining next steps

SIMULATOR ROLE:       Christine Summers (37), wife and mother

LEARNER ROLE:          Midwife / Social Worker / Nurse             

SETTING:                      Walk-in clinic or hospital

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Christine made an appointment with her midwife as she had fallen on the icy (wet) steps and is concerned if the fall may have affected the baby. She is bruised on her lower back, her right arm is sore from bracing her fall and she has a bruise on her cheekbone from striking an outdoor planter. Usually her husband, Frank, accompanies her to her appointments but as this is an emergency he was unable to get off work. Christine is about 5 months pregnant and she had two sons – Josh (14 years old) and Ben (11 years old).

Return to Top


206: Family Dealing with Terminal Illness

This family is struggling to face the impending death of Margaret, wife and mother.  She gets her strength from her faith, but needs someone she can talk to about her fears for herself and her family.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  encouraging dialogue, acknowledging feelings, respecting differing perspectives, maintaining professionalism

*CHARACTERS:            Margaret Eaton (46) terminally ill

                                    Al Eaton (47) her husband

                                    Rebecca (15) her daughter

*Note: This simulation is adaptable to the use of one simulator (Margaret Eaton) and some or all of the family members.

LEARNER ROLE:          Social Worker / Nurse

SETTING:                      Hospital

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Margaret has been in the hospital for five days after suffering a grand mal seizure.  She has cancer and has six months to live.  She wants to go home to die.

Return to Top


208: Spousal Abuse - Effect On Child Behaviour

A small child lives in a household where his mother is beaten on a weekly basis. The mother wants help but doesn’t know how to ask for it.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: creating a safe environment, acknowledging strengths, encouraging dialogue, prioritizing issues, considering options, defining next steps

CHARACTER:               Karen Seager (32)

LEARNER ROLE:          Social Worker / Early Childhood Educator

SETTING:                      Community Health Centre / ECE office

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Karen’s son Sean is 4 years old. The school social worker/ECE teacher has asked to speak to the family regarding Sean’s violent and aggressive behaviours observed in the early childhood program that he attends each morning. He talks about himself in the third person and doesn’t accept affection.

Return to Top


210: Gay-Positive Parenting

A gay father worries about his son’s treatment at daycare, but may be expecting too much of the program when he demands that homophobia among parents be stopped.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: listening skills, developing trust, demonstrating empathy & professionalism, setting goals, finding collaborative solutions

SIMULATOR ROLES:     Henry Wilson, father of Sam (3)

                                    Gene, his live-in partner

                                    *Note: this simulation can be adapted to work with one simulator as                                            Henry, the father

LEARNER ROLE:          Day Care Supervisor / Social Worker

SETTING:                      Day care centre

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Sam has lived with his father ever since his parents divorced two years ago.  His mother visits occasionally but does not live in the same city.  Two children in the neighbourhood have stopped coming over since Henry’s new partner moved in. Sam, normally outgoing and well-liked, has come home crying from school. Henry and his partner want to meet with the daycare supervisor to discuss what is happening to Sam.

Return to Top


213: Overwhelmed Mother

A caring wife, mother and daughter-in-law, this woman is upset by the possibility of picking up her family and moving to Asia.  She needs an objective ear as she goes through all the complications of her family life, wanting to keep her family together at any cost, while maintaining support for her husband’s career. Right now she is feeling overwhelmed.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: listening skills, developing trust, demonstrating empathy, asking open-ended questions

SIMULATOR ROLE:                   Nancy Clarke, mother in her 40’s

LEARNER ROLE:                      Counselor/Social worker

SETTING:                                  Community Health Centre counseling service                 

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Nancy is concerned about the impact of her husband’s possible promotion and transfer to China. Nancy is very supportive of her husband’s career but this may be a huge disruption for all the members of their family. Nancy needs to talk to an objective person who is not involved in these decisions.

Return to Top


214: Post-Partum Depression

Note: Development of this simulation was supported by Invest in Kids Foundation; Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto; Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University.

This married woman is currently on maternity leave from her job and appears anxious about her ability to cope with two children, her 4 year old son and a 2 month old daughter.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:          Empathetic listening skills, developing trust, finding collaborative solutions.  Learners will need to find out about how this family operates.

SIMULATOR ROLES:                 Meg Allen (30-35); Sam Allen (30-37)

LEARNER ROLE:                      Nurse / Early childhood educator / Social worker

SETTING:                                  A visit to the Allen’s home

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: Meg is currently on maternity leave from her job as an accountant, in a large firm in the downtown core of the city, after the birth of her daughter Emily who is now 2 months old. Since her older son Tyler, 4 years old, contracted pneumonia and was unable to attend child care for two weeks life at home has been more stressful. Meg saw a poster for “Healthy Babies Healthy Child” in her doctor’s office and he suggested Meg call them. After discussion, it was agreed that a home visit would be best when her husband Sam would be working from home and able to participate in the interview.

Return to Top


403: High Level Promotion - Family Dynamics

This couple brings a complex situation into the interview room.  It is company policy that the employee and spouse are both interviewed prior to overseas moves, since it is considered that family support is important to these promotions.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  ensuring opposing views are heard and respected, mediating between parties, encouraging dialogue, gaining buy-in, managing conflict, negotiating agreements

SIMULATOR ROLES:     Nancy Clarke (41)

                                    John Clarke (44)

LEARNER ROLE:          Human Resources Director / Manager / Counselor

SETTING:                      Offices of ABC Co. / Counseling Office

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS: John’s company (ABC Co.) is considering offering him a promotion that would send him to Asia for a minimum of three years.  It is the company’s policy to interview the employee and spouse before making a decision.  The decision to promote John hinges upon this move being “successful” which means, it needs to work for the family.

Return to Top

501: Sexual Intimacy and Terminal Illness

Nancy Waters recently received a diagnosis of bone cancer in her hip and the prognosis is very bad. This is her second bout with cancer and has been given a few months to live. Although she is receiving physiotherapy after hip surgery, what she really needs is advice about a marriage that’s collapsing under the weight of her illness.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:  listening skills –attending, acknowledging, interpreting, supporting,

checking perceptions, silence, demonstrating empathy, conveying understanding, developing collaborative solutions

SIMULATOR ROLE:                   Nancy Waters –late 30’s -40’s

LEARNER ROLE:                      Counselor / Nurse (first meeting)

SETTING:                                  Hospital Setting, Counseling Services                                       

INFORMATION FOR LEARNERS:  Since being diagnosed with bone cancer in her hip six months ago, Nancy’s energy has declined. She has concerns about her husband and the growing emotional gap between them. She does not want her children to know that her cancer is terminal as she wants things as normal as possible for everyone.

Return to Top