What is a Case study in Psychology?

In this blog, we will read the case study of psychology, which we will study, and what will be the case study about it.

Let’s read about case study psychology.

This case study aims to learn as much as possible about the person or group in question so that this knowledge can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case Studies are highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to larger populations.

A case study in psychology is an in-depth study of an individual, group, or event. In a case study, almost every aspect of the subject’s life and history is analyzed to look for patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

While case studies focus on one individual or group, they follow the same format as other types of psychology writing. Following APA format rules is essential if you’re writing a case study.

Advantages and Limitations of Psychology

A case study can be a study of both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers should consider these pros and cons before deciding whether this type of study is appropriate for their needs.


  • One of the most significant advantages of the case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a laboratory. Some other benefits of case studies: 1
  • Allows researchers to collect large amounts of information
  • Give researchers a chance to collect data on rare or unusual cases
  • This will enable researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research


On the downside, a case study:

  • may not necessarily be generalized to the larger population
  • cannot represent cause and effect
  • may not be scientifically rigorous
  • can cause bias

Researchers interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon may conduct a case study. Insights gained from such research can help researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that can be explored in future studies.

However, it is essential to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause-and-effect relationships between variables. However, case studies can be used to develop hypotheses that can be addressed in experimental research.

Case Study Examples

What is a Case study in Psychology?

There have been many notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of Freud’s work and theory was developed through individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:

Anna O: Anna O was the pseudonym of a woman named Bertha Pappenheim, a patient of a physician named Joseph Breuer. While she was never Freud’s patient, Freud and Breuer discussed her case at length. The woman was experiencing symptoms of a condition then known as hysteria and found that talking about her problems helped relieve her symptoms. Her case played a crucial role in developing talk therapy for mental health treatment.

Phineas Gage: Phineas Gage was a railroad worker who experienced a horrific accident in which an explosion sent a metal rod through his skull, damaging vital parts of his brain. Gage recovered from his accident but was left with severe changes in both personality and behavior.

Genie: Genie was a young girl who was a victim of terrible abuse and isolation. Genie’s case study allowed researchers to study whether language can be taught after critical periods for language development have been missed. Her case also shows how scientific research can interfere with treating and abusing of vulnerable individuals.

Cases like this demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers cannot replicate in experimental settings. In Genie’s case, her horrific abuse denied her the opportunity to learn a language at critical points in her development.

This is not something researchers can ethically replicate, but doing case studies on Genie allowed researchers to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.

Topics for Psychology Case Studies

Types of Case Studies

There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers can use:

Collective Case Studies: These involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers may study a group of people in a particular setting or look at an entire community. For example, psychologists can explore how community access to resources affects people’s mental well-being.

Descriptive Case Studies: These involve starting from a descriptive theory. Subjects are observed, and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing idea.

Descriptive case studies: These are often used to conduct causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at the factors that cause certain things to happen.

Exploratory case studies: These are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to collect more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses.

Instrumental Case Studies: These occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than is initially apparent to observers.

Intrinsic Case Studies: This type of case study occurs when the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget’s observations of his children are good examples of how an internal cast study can contribute to developing a psychological theory.

The three main case study types often used are internal, ancillary, and collective. Internal case studies help us learn about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at one individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collaborative case study can help look at many instances simultaneously.2

The type of case study psychology researchers uses on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the subject.

how to write a case study

There are also different methods that can be used to conduct case studies, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.

Prospective case study methods are methods in which an individual or group is observed to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals may be observed over an extended period to follow a particular disease’s progress.

Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers may start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work backward to look at information about the person’s life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the disease. 

where do we find the data

This is the data source Researchers can use various sources and methods to collect information about an individual or group. The six significant sources identified by the researchers are:

Archival Records: Census, survey, and name lists are examples of archival records.

Direct observation: This strategy often involves observing the subject in a natural setting. While an individual supervisor is sometimes used, it is more common to use a group of supervisors.

Documents: Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc., are the documents that are often used as sources.

Interview: The interview is one of the essential methods for collecting information in a case study. An interview may consist of structured survey questions or more open-ended questions.

Participant Observation: When the researcher acts as a participant in the events and observes the actions and results, it is called participant observation.

Physical artifacts: Tools, objects, equipment, and other artifacts are often observed during direct observation of the subject.

Section 1: A Case History

This section will have the following structure and content:

Background Information: The first section of your paper will present your client’s background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and vulnerabilities.

Description of the presenting problem: In the next part of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.

Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Attention should also be paid to thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to symptoms. Any screening or diagnostic assessments should be described in detail, and all scores should be reported.

Your Diagnosis: Provide your diagnosis and the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client’s symptoms fit the disorder(s) diagnostic criteria, or any possible difficulties in getting the diagnosis.

Section 2: Treatment Plan

This section of the paper will address the treatment chosen for the condition. It may also include the theoretical basis for the desired treatment or any other evidence to support why this approach was chosen.

Cognitive Behavioral Approach:

What is a Case study in Psychology?

  1. Explain how a cognitive behavioral therapist will approach treatment.
  2. Provide background information on cognitive behavioral therapy and describe treatment sessions, client feedback, and the outcome of this type of therapy.
  3. Note any difficulties or successes your client has encountered during treatment.

Humanistic Approach:

What is a Case study in Psychology?

  1. Describe a humanistic approach that can be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy.
  2. Provide information about the type of treatment you choose, the client’s response to treatment, and the result of this approach.
  3. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.

Psychoanalytic Approach:

What is a Case study in Psychology?

  1. Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would approach the client’s problem.
  2. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic perspective and cite relevant references.
  3. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy will be used to treat the patient, how the client will respond to the treatment and the effectiveness of this approach.

Pharmacological Approach:

What is a Case study in Psychology?

 If treatment primarily involved the use of drugs, the state in which drugs were used and why. Provide background on the effectiveness of these drugs and how monotherapy may compare to approaches that combine drugs with therapy or other treatments.

This case study section should also include information about the treatment’s goals, process, and results.

about the debate in psychology

When writing a case study, you should also include a section discussing the case study itself, including its strengths and limitations. Focus on how your case study findings can support previous research.

In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings may require further exploration? How might researchers explore some of these questions in additional studies?

more tips

Here are some additional pointers to keep in mind when drafting your case study:

Never refer to the subject of your case study as a “client,” as in a psychology subject. Instead, his name or pseudonym.

Read the case study examples to understand the style and format.

Remember to use APA format when referencing.

A word from Vervel in the study of Psychology

The case study may be a helpful research tool, but it needs to be used wisely. They often use the best when one experiment is difficult or impossible. They help see unique problems and allow researchers to collect much information about a specific person or group.

If you are directed to write a case study for the psychology course, check for any specific guidelines you need to follow with your instructor. If you are writing your case study for a professional publication, check with the publisher for their particular guidelines for submitting the case study.

What is a Case Study in Psychology With Examples?

About Psychology Case Study Psychology case study refers to an in-depth study of an individual or group, or phenomenon or the use of a qualitative research approach to gain insight into it and the individual’s subjective observation. Various techniques may be employed, including psychometric testing and archival records thereof. Case studies in psychology are often used in clinical research to describe rare events and situations that contradict well-established theories in the field of psychology. Case studies are usually a single-case design but can also be a multiple-case design, where replication rather than sampling is the criterion for inclusion. Like other research methods within psychology, case studies must produce valid and reliable results to be helpful for the development of future research. Different advantages and disadvantages are associated with case studies in psychology. The case study is sometimes mistaken for the case method, but the two are different.

By Saksham Chopra

Hi, My name is Saksham Chopra and I am a Digital Marketer and Blogger. My favorite part of the Internet is sharing information via blogs on Psychology, Human Psychology, Mental Health, and Stress Management.

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