Writing Client Conceptualizations

Client conceptualizations are important tools for counselors as they enable them to understand and empathize with clients, while also providing treatment guidance

Writing Individual Client Conceptualizations

A client conceptualization is a written description that synthesizes:

  1. Presenting Concern
    1. The reason or reasons the client(s) sought treatment.
  2. Client Culture
    1. Age
    2. Ethnicity
    3. Sexual orientation
    4. Gender identity and biological sex
    5. Career
    6. Ability
    7. Spirituality
    8. Economic class
    9. Attachment & relational patterns
    10. Self-Awareness
    11. Values, biases, and beliefs
    12. Language(s) spoken
    13. Experiences with trauma & abuse
    14. Strengths
    15. Family culture
    16. Boundaries
    17. Developmental life stage
    18. Community resources
    19. Geographic location
  3. History
    1. When did the presenting concern emerge?
    2. What was happening in the client's life when the presenting concern emerged?
  4. Assessments
    1. What assessments (formal & informal) were used?
    2. What were the results of the assessments?
  5. Diagnosis
    1. Congruent with the presenting concern, culturally sensitive, supported by assessment results.
  6. Contextual Conceptualization
    1. Explicitly linking presenting concern, culture, history, assessments and diagnosis.
  7. Theoretical Foundation
    1. Select a theory or theories
    2. Discuss how the theory or theories that you are using to conceptualize would view the cause of the client's presenting concern.
  8. Treatment Plan
    1. Use SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, time-limited) goals.
    2. The treatment goals should be congruent with the presenting concern, contextual conceptualization, and theoretical foundation.