Social workers are expected to have good communication skills in order to effectively convey information about cases and policies to a wide array of audiences. As a social worker, there will likely come a time in your career when you are called upon to give a case presentation. Case presentations are often used in the social work profession as a means of professional development and learning, and to advocate for clients to ensure comprehensive and effective services are being delivered.

Oftentimes, social workers will make case presentations in supervision, in peer-group consultation meetings, in agency staff meetings, or in social work trainings and classes. In all case presentations, the social worker should take measures to protect the client’s confidentiality and privacy by only including that information which is necessary and relevant, and not using the client’s name. The majority of information in a case presentation will come from the client directly, based on what the social worker has learned through interviews, observations, and existing records and data provided by the client.

Case presentations should be tailored to their specific purpose and audience, and there is no universal format to be followed. However, there are certain key elements that are generally included in a case presentation. These are:

  • Identifying information – this section will include demographic information about the client, any cultural considerations to keep in mind, and sometimes a physical description of the client.

  • History of the presenting problem – this section will provide any important background information and contextual factors that are important to understanding the presenting problem, such as family history

  • Medical and Psychiatric history – this section includes significant medical and/or psychiatric information needed to understand the client’s functioning, such as diagnoses or chronic health conditions

  • Personal and/or Social history – this section will provide relevant information about the client’s social functioning, including but not limited to any legal issues, problems at school or work, and safety concerns such as being in a crisis state

  • Presenting problem – this section describes the social worker’s assessment of the presenting problem, including any specific assessment tools or measures used, the client’s mental status, and any diagnoses assigned or considered

  • Impressions and summary – in this section, the social worker will write a concise narrative of her findings from her work with the client

  • Recommendations – this section presents the social worker’s proposed treatment plan, the intervention strategies being or to be employed, the goals and objectives the social worker and client have set together, and the relevant theoretical models informing practice

Remember to create the case presentation with a specific purpose and audience in mind in order to guide your choices of what information should be included. Additional sections can be added if needed, and sections that are not relevant or do not apply to the specific case can be eliminated or modified.

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