Case Conceptualization Process
Case conceptualization refers to the process in which one makes sense of a client’s presenting concerns in the context of a theoretical framework. In other words, it refers to how one explains or understands the pseudo-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.
At this stage, you will conceptualize the client’s case from 1 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 client’s presenting concerns (as presented in the case summary) from the perspective of the client.
Use the outline below to assist you in developing your Case Conceptualization according to the theory you choose to discuss.
Client’s Presenting Concerns:
This is derived from your Case Summary.
Present information used to generate hypothesis regarding the origins of the client’s current problems. Use outside sources and the Jones and Butman textbook to explain the concepts utilized in this section. Below offers an outline of how to discuss these issues.
Psychoanalysis or Object Relations Theory:
- Explore current and early relationships as they relate to issues of attachment and autonomy. This includes gaining an understanding of how the client understands the world and his/her relationships with others (e.g., the client’s mental representations based on internalized objects). Understanding the client’s internal frame of reference will help the counselor understand the client’s behaviors.
- Describe the ideas and feelings about self that the client might have developed in the context of these early relations (internalized objects).
- Establish a relationship between the client’s sense of self and current problems, identify conflictive patterns that the client may be repeating in current life, and explore to what extent current experiences trigger the client’s emotional reactions elicited by past experiences (reliving the trauma).
- Uncover defense mechanisms embedded in the client’s presenting concerns and other symptoms, and explain how they relate to the client’s current difficulties and past experiences.
- Help the client become aware of issues described above, and help the client process and resolve early conflicts.