Psychology case study

Case study

Amena is a 35 year old refugee and mother of two. She is currently living in temporary ‘holding’ accommodation, but has just learnt that her application for asylum has been accepted. She is under International Humanitarian Protection and her family have been allocated a place in council run accommodation and her children given places at the local primary school. Whilst she is looking forward to having her own place, she is fearful of the adjustments she will have to make to fit into a society with which she is not familiar. She shares those fears for her children. Her spoken and written English are limited but improving and she relies on her assigned key worker to fill in forms.

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Amena is devoutly religious and was forced to flee a war-torn country three years ago after her husband went missing and now presumed to have passed. He encouraged her to leave if anything happened to him, in order to protect herself and their children. She was to aim to get to the UK and he would follow her there if and when he could. She has not seen or heard from him since.

Amena experiences recurrent distressing flashbacks, memories and dreams of her time at home. She is fearful of these events occurring again, though she knows that they will not. Exposure to cues that resemble aspects of war induce prolonged psychological distress. As a consequence she avoids situations and people she perceives will form reminders of the war; this is one reason she is reluctant to join a local refuge support group. She is having severe problems sleeping, which she knows is affecting her own strength and resilience and affecting the support that she can offer to her children. She seems to blame herself for the situation she is in, wondering whether she would have been better staying in her home country, in the hope of finding her husband. Instead she now experiences feelings of bereavement. Unsurprisingly these feelings and her situation have developed into negative beliefs about herself, others and the world around her.

During her last meeting with her key worker, Amena was asked what she would wish for herself, now that she had been offered asylum. She suggested that she would like to return to teaching (her previous occupation) so that she could begin to lead a new life and support her children. Recognising her psychological problems, she has agreed to meet with the local counselling services.

Using an integrative and eclectic counselling approach, write a report detailing the following:

1. How counselling psychology theory might be used to explain Amena’s current psychological experiences.

2. Explain, using research evidence, what counselling psychology interventions you would recommend for her and why.

Additional guidance

This assessment is, as the module title suggests, an applied ‘real world’ counselling psychology case study and intervention. As such it is complex and requires significant consideration of Amena and her situation, and awareness of the support services available to her.

Consider that you are a counselling psychologist in training, working with the local counselling service. You have been asked to provide an evidence-based report for your supervisor to justify the interventions you are proposing for Amena. Please write in the third person.

The case study must be written in report style format. I will guide you through the process of writing the case study in report format and will place an example format on Moodle.


Please write a contents page as this helps you and the reader to consider the usefulness of the structure you have chosen. It would be useful, in your introduction to list the most important psychological and general issues raised within the case study. Please do not regurgitate the whole case study in your introduction as this is using up your word count, bullet points will suffice. Please do not try to add any extra issues that you think are hidden or underlying, as there are enough issues to concentrate on within the case study itself.

In answering the first part of the question (1):

Please do not give a history of the three major schools, as this does not help you to answer the question. What you need to do is to consider how the underpinning theory, methods and techniques might interpret or explain Amena’s particular issues. Please do not just give an academic description of the schools and theory, you need to discuss each of these schools in the context of Amena, so please make sure you integrate Amena within this explanation by regularly referring to her.

In answering the second part of the question (2):

Consider whether the 5Ps would be useful in your formulation. Consider what counselling psychology interventions you would recommend and why. Support your proposed interventions, with research that supports its efficacy for someone experiencing Amena’s issues. If there is little or no evidence for some of her issues, then explain this.

Your interventions must be realistic and set within the British health and social care context. You are delivering this intervention through the NHS and/or charitable organisations so give some consideration to the cost effectiveness of the interventions and mode of delivery you propose.

Write a summary or conclusion.

In an appendix you may write an action plan/treatment plan (example available on Moodle) as this demonstrates that you can apply the theory and research efficacy in the context of ‘real world’ delivery – ask yourself whether you are going to frame this in the context of the stepped care approach?

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