How to Write a Psychological Case Study

So you are in college and you have been asked to write a psychological case study as part of your psychology course requirements…Where do you start? Well, a psychological case study involves the following elements: the client’s health (i.e. physical and mental/emotional) history and any signs and/or symptoms. It also consists of documented (i.e. audio, video and/or written) notations of counseling sessions, a sound understanding of the therapy approach and the outcome of the therapy. So in order to write a psychological case study, you will need to collect as much information as you can on the client and have a background in psychology.

The purpose of case studies are to identify issues and help develop treatment plans that will help the clients resolve these issues and move on with their lives. In other words, a case study is a detailed account of a client’s background (i.e. signs and symptoms, thoughts and behaviors, issues, previous mental health treatments, therapeutic approaches, medications, health conditions, etc.). The conclusion of a psychological case study consists of the results of treatment. Did the client resolve his/her issues? Does he/she know how to effectively manage any mental or physical health conditions? Did the client respond to the treatment? Was the therapy approach effective?

If you are wondering how to write a psychological case study – you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to write a 4-star psychological case study.

Writing a psychological case study involves the following steps:

• Describe the Client

The first step in writing the case study is to describe the client. In other words, write a detailed account of the client’s background. Document his/her demographics (i.e. gender, educational background, race, culture, economic status, occupation and family medical history). In some cases, you may even need to document the client’s sexual orientation.

• Document the Client’s Reason for Seeking Counseling

Secondly, you will need to document the reason for counseling. In other words, you will need to explain, in your case study, why the client needed counseling. What caused the client to seek counseling? Discuss the client’s issues (i.e. when did they begin, what caused them, what has the client has done to resolve them, etc.). It is also important to document whether or not the past treatments worked or failed. Do not forget to record what the client expected from counseling.

• Describe the Client’s Signs and Symptoms

Thirdly, you will need to accurately and clearly describe the client’s signs and symptoms. Was the client depressed, anxious, fearful, emotional, unusually sensitive, controlling, irritable, angry, hostile, indifferent, argumentative, hyper, impulsive, aggressive, passive, confused, delusional, obsessive and compulsive, violent, withdrawn and/or hypersexual? Did the client make eye contact? Did he/she speak in a monotone?

• Describe the Counseling Sessions

Fourthly, you will need to describe the counseling sessions. In other words, clearly and accurately describe what occurred during counseling. Document the client’s behaviors during counseling sessions and record his/her statements. Do not forget to include the client’s moods and emotions when certain topics were broached.

• Describe the Client-Counselor Interactions

Fifthly, describe the interactions between the client and counselor. In other words, was there a strong rapport between the client and the counselor? Was the client open and honest or was he/she hostile, dismissive and/or standoffish? Did the client answer questions or did he/she “clam up” and refuse to speak? What was the client’s body language, gestures and voice tone? Document the communication patterns between the client and counselor and notate the communication exercises and skills practiced. Once again document whether or not the client made eye contact with the counselor.

• Explain the Counseling Approach

Sixthly, explain the counseling approach. In other words, provide a brief background on the approach used in the counseling sessions with the client. What techniques, therapies and exercises were used? What are the key elements of that counseling approach? How long was the client in counseling? Lastly discuss the “pros” and “cons” of using this approach to treat the client’s issues.

• Form Your Conclusion

Lastly, you will need to form the conclusion of your psychological case study. Make sure to include in the outcome (i.e. progress, setbacks, exercises, etc.) of the counseling and what can be learned from this client and counseling approach.


American Psychological Association. (2014). Evidence-based case study. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, K. (2004). A case study in marital therapy: Applying Gottman’s sound marital house and Hudson and O’Hanlon’s brief marital counseling approaches. Capella University. Retrieved from ans_Sound_Marital_House_and_Hudson_and_OHanlons_Brief_Marital_Counseling_Ar oaches

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