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How to write a case study in psychology


It is important to be knowledgeable about how to write a case study in psychology because, at a certain period of your study, there would be the need to do a case study. Case studies are engaged in clinical conditions when laboratory investigation is lacking. A case study includes detailed research that might involve an individual, group, or community.

 When this is done, data are generated from many avenues using different methods such as interviews and observations. It should be known that in Psychology, incidences of case studies are carried out to investigate a particular person.

However, a case study cannot be regarded as research, but those who carry out research generate data through a particular method, analyze it, and produce substances good for case studies.

The concept of case study is important because it is at liberty to perform an investigation on subjects that are not easy to carry out in the laboratory. So, a case study is much appreciated in the healthcare department, where many psychological issues occur.

The merits of a case study in psychology

  • A case study in psychology helps to research some unethical conditions.
  • It is a powerful tool for referring to theories.
  • A case study allows for thorough and detailed research.
  • Through a case study, qualitative details are guaranteed.
  • Also, it could be a pathway for future research.

The demerits of a case study in psychology

  • It is time-consuming, and it could be energy-sapping. 
  • A case study is not usually easy to reproduce.
  • Unfortunately, the outcome of a case study cannot generalize to a larger audience.
  • There is usually the issue of bias from the researcher.

What are the types of case studies?

The following are the types of case study used by researchers and psychologist to carry out their investigation:

  • Explanatory: The explanatory case study is engaged by a psychologist to perform causal analysis of certain occurrences. This implies that they are interested in determining the factors or conditions that could have led to things happening.
  • Exploratory: These are gate-ways to further investigations; it creates room for more work to be carried out. Therefore, scholars have the opportunity to more discoveries before coming up with hypotheses and questions.
  • Intrinsic: Here, this type describes a case where the investigator has a special interest in the client. A researcher’s observations of his family members, for example, are good instances of knowing how this case study can be engaged to contribute to formulating a psychological theory.
  • Collective: The collective case is usually the type with the study of a group of individuals. So, the psychologist can carry out research work on a group of people or study focus on a set of individuals in a particular setting.
  • Descriptive: This type of case study uses descriptive theory for its investigation. The client is then examined, and the discoveries made are compared to already existing theories.
  • Instrumental: The instrumental type is the type of case study whereby a group of people on individuals makes the researcher come to realize further details that are not initially obvious to the researchers. 

Methods of carrying out a case study

Prospective: This involves the research on a group of humans or individuals to determine a particular outcome. For instance, watching a group of people for a certain time to observe the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retrospective: Here, historical details are being considered and investigated. The researcher usually begins with a result of an outcome, like an infection, and then investigates the history of the individual to check its risk factor that initially led to the commencement of the infection.

What are the sources of information?

Interviews: Carrying out interviews is one of the most common methods of gathering information when carrying out a case study. This could be structured like a survey-type questionnaire or open-ended questions to gather more information.

Documents: Examples of this are articles from newspapers and magazines, letters, administrative records, and so many others.

Direct Observation: This is a direct observation of the subject matter. It is advisable to make use of this with a group of observers.

Physical Artifacts: Examples of these artifacts are objects, tools, instruments, and some other artifacts under investigation.

Archival Records: This could be from records of survey, census records, and some others.

Participant Observation: Here, the researcher serves as a participant in a particular event, and the process observes the actions and results, and in the process, gathers the needed information.

Processes of writing a case study in psychology

When carrying out a case study in psychology, the following approach must be adhered to. However, note that the case study done on your psychology laboratory assignment can't be detailed when compared to the formal type.

So, the following are the processes;

Collection of Data

The first assignment to accomplish is getting enough relevant details on the client to be used for the case study. The subject can be interviewed alongside family members and friends. Also, the subject can be placed under observation, and the result added to the client’s report.

Data Analysis

The outcome of the observations and interviews should be briefly described under the result section of the case study. This is usually not more than four pages; this brief description should concentrate more on the topic question. However, a section that contains general information about the subject should be included. This information can be subject’s history, family background like occupation, and educational qualification.

However, efforts should be taken not to reveal the subject's information and any other thing that could damage the subject’s identity.

Presentation of Result

The report should follow the APA style of formatting with the sections below;
Introduction: The introduction part is where old research work and theories on your area of focus are reviewed.

Methods of Analysis: This is a section that gives the general description of the participants.

Materials Used: All the materials used should be described, for instance, the questionnaire used.

Process/Procedures: The process of data collection, like interviews, observation, and the rest should be explained.

Results/Outcomes: This should be presented in not more than 4-pages. Citations should be avoided here, and emphasis should be on the results.


Adequate interpretation should be made on the client’s case. The theories and research introduced at the introductory phase should be included. Also, other research works that can help show the result of the case study should be included. Besides, it would be nice to include the limitations of the research.

Writing the case study

The following are the steps on how to write a case study in psychology;

Case History

Gather enough background details. This is the first phase of the psychology paper. It must contain the entire background details of the client like health condition, gender, age, coping skills, social relationships, strengths and weaknesses, goals, and some others.

Description of the problem. This is the second phase in the analysis of the case study. It involves the description of the issues the person has. The details to be described include emotional, physical, or sensory symptoms as narrated by the subject; take note of the feelings, and perceptions in connection with the signs, any prior screening, and medical assessment should be enumerated.

Diagnosis Done. The diagnosis phase is where the right diagnostic and statistical manual code is examined and enumerated. You should also give details of how you arrived at the diagnosis and how these symptoms relate to your diagnostic parameters of the mental disorder.

Intervention Phase

This phase is the phase-two of how to write a case study in psychology. This phase places emphasis on the things embarked upon to assist the client. The researcher may be asked to select from theoretical steps or to explain the types of treatment methods used.

The following are treatment approach used;

Cognitive-Behavioral Approach 

This point is where all the background details on the cognitive-behavioral therapy and all the treatments are given. Also, it provides the results of the treatment and the client's reaction to the treatment methods. Besides, the successes and problems encountered by the subject are recorded.

Humanistic Approach

The humanistic approach has to do with a full enumeration of a humanistic approach used for the treatment of the client. Details should be given about the type of treatment given to the client, reactions to treatment, and the outcome of the treatment. Also, there should be explanations as to the reasons the treatment was successful or not.

Psychoanalytic Approach

This method assists with details on psychoanalytic methods used with relevant examples. Give information on how choosing this approach would help to treat the patient, the response of the patient to treatment, and its effectiveness.

Interpretative Phenomenological Approach

Under this approach, there is a focus on the relationship that occurs between the case study on an individual or group and a certain occurrence or phenomenon. So, whatever the outcome might be, this would be of tremendous significance to the subject of the study.

Grounded Approach

This approach involves an initial data collection process about the subject under investigation and then extends this to other categories. Also, the relation between these categories is established, thereby bringing about more understanding of the client and coming up with a definite treatment plan.

Tips on how to write a case study in psychology

  • It is important not to reference the individual in any case study as “patient” or “client,” but you can write the name of the client or a pseudonym.
  • Always make use of APA style of formatting when referencing.
  • It would be helpful to consult a lot of previous studies to gather enough details on the formatting and styles of writing.
  • The case study must be zero-tolerance to plagiarism; there must be no copy and paste of any content. All the materials in the case study must be original.
  • There must be room for adequate proofreading and editing. Students must note that what will attract good grades in their case study is a work that is free of all kinds of errors.
  • Also, you need to interact with those that are knowledgeable like counselors, professors, psychiatrists, college faculties, etc., and the people that have gone ahead of you (senior colleagues) while putting together the case study. The reason for this interaction is that psychology is a sensitive and delicate field that always requires professional counsel and advice while compiling the case study. From here, students can get the best treatment approach for an individual.
  • The assignment must be submitted within the timeline; submitting the assignment before the deadline is a function of daily engagement with the case study.
  • Students must update themselves regularly on recent discoveries in diagnosis on both local and universal.
  • Besides, there is a need for a lot of research work while writing a psychology paper. Great psychology books by famous writers can be consulted to get an adequate guide.
  • Making the right diagnosis will assist you in writing a good psychology paper. Once the diagnosis is properly made, the best treatment approach will be used for the subject. Hence, adequate preparation is needed here.


Coming up with a case study isn’t an easy task. It demands a thorough analytical prowess. Case studies are a strong investigation guide; it can assist researchers with adequate discoveries on a certain group of people or certain individuals. Also, as you plan to do your coming case study in psychology, there is a need to be furnished with the necessary details and guidelines to follow.

Therefore, how to write a case study in psychology shouldn’t be challenging to you any longer because this article has adequately given the needed guidelines to go through. However, any student who is not sure about writing the assignment can seek help from professors that will assist with the task and, in the long run, get the needed grade.

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