Case Conceptualization

Case Conceptualization

Outline for Case Conceptualization

Case conceptualization refers to the process in which we make sense of a client's presenting concerns in the context of a theoretical framework and in order to plan for treatment goals and interventions. In other words, it refers to how we explain or understand the client's symptoms, personality characteristics, cognitions, feelings, and behaviors in the light of a particular theory or integration of theories. Such understanding should lead to the formulation of counseling goals and intervention strategies.

In this paper we will conceptualize the client's case from one theoretical orientation at a time. The content of the conceptualization of the same case will differ according to the various theories depending on the aspect of human experiencing that each theory emphasizes.

In general, however, the case conceptualization process (as with the counseling process itself) starts with an understanding of the clients' presenting concerns from the perspective of the client.

In other words, Step 1 addresses the question

What does the client say her or his problems are?

In Step 2 we hypothesize a framework from which to explain the origins of the stated problems, addressing the questions:

How is it that this person came to have these particular problems?

Where are these problems possibly stemming from?
Intra-psychic issues, environment, early relationships?

What are this person’s strengths? How have they coped? How well?

And in Step 3,

• Client’s goals for counseling are identified, and

• Specific interventions are planned to address the problems identified by the counselor and the client. Interventions should be able to be measured

The various theories will differ in the answers they provide to the questions posed in Step 2 and may lead to different types of interventions in Step 3.
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For example, regarding Step 2, the psychodynamic approaches (Freud,...

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