Writing a Case Study In 5 Steps

What is a case study?

A case study is a short research report that recaps the treatment or management of an individual case, as opposed to reviewing the results of an experiment or a survey with a large sample of participants. Often, a case study is focused on the treatment on an individual client in a social work, counseling psychology, or clinical psychology practice. The focus of the case study paper is the individual person’s progress, not on presenting an empirical trend. As such, the process of writing a case study is quite distinct from writing most other types of review papers. Here are five steps to creating a high quality case study report.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself With The Case

Get to know the client that you will be writing about. Spend time interacting directly with him or her, and share a bit about yourself. This process of familiarization is called rapport building, and it is essential for two reasons. First, it will make the client more comfortable with you, and two, it will make your report better informed. Make sure to have several interactions with your client or case subject before you start recording data.

Step 2: Record Observations

After you have become comfortable and familiar with the case, sit in on several treatment sessions with the client. Record notes or use audiovisual recording equipment, if the client gives you permission. Make sure to observe numerous sessions, which will give you more representative and realistic results than having just a few data points. Let the client become comfortable with you around.

Step 3: Write Up Your Notes

Translate your notes into a paper format. Write in declarative sentences and keep track of all the dates and times of your observations. Your writing should following a narrative structure and be mindful of the chronology of your visitations. Try to find broader themes to discuss.

Step 4: Locate A Pattern Or Story

You should review your notes after you have transcribed them, and seek out broader trends or developments that occurred throughout the observation process. Re-read your notes and reflect on the client. How has their case changed over time? Have they improved? What external factors have become important in the client’s life in the past few months? Do you think treatment has been effective? Write all of this down in your report.

Step 5: Clean Up The Paper

Remove any identifying information from your paper, so the anonymity of the client is protected. Double check all your dates and times, and verify them with the client or their counselor. Reevaluate your conclusions, and if you can, give the draft to the client to review and approve.

 
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