Case Conceptualization Paper

Instructions & Outline for the Case Conceptualization Paper


For this paper, you must complete a case conceptualization using the fictional case study.

Fictional Case Study

(Case Conceptualization Paper)

Jennifer McAllister was a 16-year-old multi-ethnic (Caucasian and Hispanic) female referred for counseling following her second arrest in a two year period for drug possession.Jennifer was in tenth grade at an alternative high school for adolescents with a history of school attendance problems.School officials there actively promoted a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug possession and therefore had Jennifer arrested when a random check revealed several ounces of marijuana in her locker.Jennifer was charged with drug possession and later sentenced to perform community service.

During an initial screening interview, Jennifer said she enjoyed her drug use and had no intentions of stopping.She considered the idea of counseling a waste of time and fully planned to continue her life as before.She was remarkably cooperative and open about her life, but provided details only after assurances that her information would be kept confidential from her mother, Ms. Ruiz.Jennifer wanted to shield her mother from many of the issues that pertained to Jennifer’s life because of the family’s substantial upheaval in the past two years.

Jennifer explained that her mother divorced her father two years earlier after a 15-year marriage marked by ongoing physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.The divorce was not easy because Mr. McAllister repeatedly threatened his wife with financial and physical ruin if she left.After various interventions by police and social service agencies, Ms. Ruiz was finally able to divorce her husband and obtain a restraining order against him.Mr. McAllister soon moved out of state and severed all contact with Ms. Ruiz (her maiden name), Jennifer, and Samuel, Jennifer’s older brother.He first deprived the family of all resources in the bank accounts, and Ms. Ruiz thus had to start from scratch to support the family and currently works two jobs to do so.

Violence in the family occurred since Jennifer was in elementary school.Jennifer would surreptitiously leave the house and stay with friends when the fighting was at its worst.As she entered junior high school, Jennifer’s time with her friends relative to her family increased and she started missing more school.Her parents were entangled in their own problems and initially neglected Jennifer, allowing her to come and go as she pleased.When Jennifer entered 7th grade, however, her father insisted she stay home more often.Jennifer complied with her father’s request, but said he began to sexually assault her.He initially did so by entering her room and fondling her, then kissing and caressing her.Jennifer said the advances made her feel confused, angry, and uncomfortable, but she complied out of fear for her and her mother’s safety.No vaginal penetration ensued, however, and her parents divorced shortly thereafter.Jennifer never told her mother of her father’s advances, but was reportedly depressed and anxious following these episodes.

Jennifer said it was at this time, at age 12 years and in 7th grade, that she began using alcohol and drugs.Jennifer initially drank alcohol with her friends following a sexually abusive episode with her father.The drinking was part of a general “counseling” session with her friends who listened to her problems and provided support and alcohol.The group consisted of six to eight girls, some of whom were sexually abused themselves.Alcohol use continued for one year, gradually became more frequent, and preceded use of hard liquor.Despite this, Jennifer was able to hide her drinking from her parents and brother.

Jennifer’s situation changed dramatically the following year when her father left, her mother began working two jobs to support the family, and her brother withdrew.Jennifer stayed with her friends more, began smoking marijuana, and expanded her social group to include boys.The group would often skip school and have day parties at one of the teens’ homes.On one occasion, however, a neighbor called police who arrested Jennifer and five other members of the group for drug possession.Jennifer received one year of probation because it was her first offense.Interestingly, her mother showed little interest in her daughter’s situation.Jennifer said her mother was still recovering from the trauma of her own abuse and divorce.

Jennifer’s behavior improved somewhat after her arrest; she attended school and helped her mother tend the house.This lasted only about six months, however, during which time Ms. Ruiz became more distant from her daughter.Jennifer began to hang out with her old group of friends and used alcohol and marijuana more so than before.Jennifer usually became drunk about one or twice a week and used marijuana at least once a week, usually on the weekends.Her school attendance dropped sharply and she was placed in an alternative high school so she could receive academic credits at a more moderate pace. Although Jennifer continued to miss school most of the time at this point, she foolishly left some marijuana in her locker resulting in the second arrest.

Jennifer also said she was sexually active with one of the boys in her social group.This was an anxiety-provoking experience for her because the event reminded her of earlier sexual encounters with her father.She thus drank alcohol to reduce her anxiety about sexual intimacies.Amazingly, she did not get pregnant and did not contract a sexually transmitted disease, despite not using prophylactic measures.

Information collected from Ms. Ruiz was less robust. She reported little knowledge about her daughter’s behavior, but believed Jennifer was probably doing what most kids in the neighborhood did.Ms. Ruiz also said she sometimes used marijuana herself to unwind and forget about past events involving her husband.Ms. Ruiz did not feel Jennifer’s situation was serious and she expressed little interest in changing her or her daughter’s behavior.

Your job is to render a diagnosis, offer a conceptualization of the case, and discuss treatment in any two settings covered in this course. As part of your paper, you must incorporate six (6) empirical articles that are cited and referenced in APA style to support your thoughts about the methods that might be used for this client in any two treatment settings of your choice.In other words, you will use three (3) articles for one setting and three (3) articles for the other setting.Note that these articles cannot be more than 10 years old.So, only use articles published between 2008 and 2018.Articles used as supplemental readings in this course cannot be used for this paper.

In terms of mechanics, your paper should be 5-7 pages in length (double-spaced, 1” margins) not including the title page and reference page. APA style is expected; however, an abstract is not required. The grading matrix for this assignment is as follows:


Available Points

Thoroughness of client’s diagnostic profile


Diagnostic rule out #1


Diagnostic rule out #2


Thoroughness of conceptualization

Your ability to tie together the details of the client’s history and presenting concerns into a diagnostic picture with fitting treatment ideas.


Treatment setting #1: Description

Description of methods, techniques, etc.


Treatment setting #1: Article Integration

Integration of 3 empirical articles


Treatment setting #2: Description

Description of methods, techniques, etc.


Treatment setting #2: Article Integration

Integration of 3 empirical articles




Spelling, grammar, and formatting


Correct type of articles and use of APA style


Total Points


Outline for Paper

In an effort to standardize the process, you are required to use the headings depicted below when organizing/writing your paper.I would suggest copying the format below into a Word document and filling in the content areas.Just be sure to set it for double spacing and put the headings in APA style.I have included some suggestions for each of the content areas. All submitted work is subject to a plagiarism check via TurnItIn, which will compare your work to that of other individuals. Action will be taken on papers that are not reflective of one’s own work.

Diagnosis(es) with codes

Using your DSM-5, indicate what diagnosis(es) you would give this client.Be sure to give examples from the case to support the symptom profile and subsequent diagnosis(es). In other words, how do you know the client meets the diagnostic criteria?This should be written in a narrative format.Do not simply list symptoms with an example.In addition, many diagnoses have overlapping symptoms, so you must explain your rule out process.For this paper, you must discuss two (2) rule outs.Do not simply state which two disorders you ruled out.You must explain why they were considered (i.e., how they are similar to the final diagnosis/symptom overlap) and how you were able to distinguish them from the final diagnosis (i.e., what ruled them out/symptom discrepancy).


This is where you put the historical information and the diagnosis(es) together to explain how the client reached this point in life – in other words, the etiology of the disorder(s) (i.e., explain what factors in the client’s life contributed to the condition).You should also discuss the factors that maintain the current condition. Remember to address any developmental and cultural considerations as well. Feel free to include theories/models/concepts from your human development course.

Treatment Setting #1

Based upon what you know about the client’s strengths and areas of challenge, along with the diagnostic considerations and conceptualization, describe how you envision treatment in any one treatment setting we have covered in class.Explain why you feel this setting is a good fit for the client’s needs.Be sure to include the treatment goals, how those would be achieved in this setting, and how efficacy would be measured.Also include information on the types of techniques that would be used in this setting and how/why they would benefit this client.Be detailed in your response and remember to incorporate any developmental and cultural considerations into your plan.

Treatment Setting #2

Do the same as above but for a different treatment setting.


This section should be two paragraphs.In the first paragraph, offer a conclusion of your conceptualization and treatment ideas.In the second paragraph, offer thoughts on what you learned from this exercise.

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