Case Study in Social Work

Somsak Nakhalajarn MSW., LSW.

Faculty of Social Work and Social Welfare

Huachiew Chalermprakiet University

10 June 2024

Case Study in Social Work

A case study in social work is an in-depth analysis of a person, family, group, or community to understand their complex social issues and develop strategies for intervention. It involves gathering detailed information through various methods such as interviews, observations, and review of records. The goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the client’s situation, needs, and strengths to create a personalized plan for support and improvement.

Key Elements of a Case Study in Social Work

  1. Assessment:

1)     Identifying the client’s problems, needs, and strengths.

2)     Understanding the social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors affecting the client.

  1. Intervention Planning:

1)     Developing a plan with specific goals and interventions based on the assessment.

2)     Collaborating with the client and other stakeholders to ensure the plan is realistic and achievable.

  1. Implementation:

1)     Carrying out the intervention plan through direct practice, advocacy, and coordination of services.

2)     Providing ongoing support and monitoring progress.

  1. Evaluation:

1)     Assessing the effectiveness of the interventions.

2)     Making necessary adjustments to the plan based on feedback and outcomes.

  1. Documentation:

1)     Keeping detailed records of the assessment, plan, interventions, and outcomes.

2)     Ensuring confidentiality and ethical standards are maintained.

Benefits of Case Studies in Social Work

  1. Individualized Care: Case studies allow social workers to tailor their interventions to the specific needs of the client.
  2. Holistic Approach: By considering all aspects of a client’s life, case studies promote a comprehensive understanding of their situation.
  3. Learning Tool: They serve as valuable educational resources for students and practitioners to learn from real-life scenarios.
  4. Evidence-Based Practice: Documented case studies contribute to the body of knowledge in social work, helping to develop best practices.

To create a detailed case study in social work, it’s essential to follow a structured approach. Here’s a guideline to help you craft a comprehensive case study:

Case Study Structure

  1. Introduction

1)     Purpose: Define the objective of the case study.

2)     Background: Provide context about the client or community.

  1. Client Profile

1)     Demographics: Age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status.

2)     History: Personal, medical, social, and family history.

  1. Problem Identification

1)     Presenting Issues: Describe the issues the client is facing.

2)     Underlying Issues: Explore any underlying problems contributing to the presenting issues.

  1. Assessment

1)     Methods Used: Describe the tools and techniques used for assessment (interviews, questionnaires, observation).

2)     Findings: Summarize the key findings from the assessment.

  1. Intervention Plan

1)     Goals: Define short-term and long-term goals for the client.

2)     Strategies: Describe the interventions and strategies planned to address the issues.

3)     Resources: Identify any resources (community services, support groups) utilized.

  1. Implementation

1)     Action Taken: Detail the steps taken to implement the intervention plan.

2)     Client Involvement: Explain how the client was involved in the process.

  1. Evaluation

1)     Outcomes: Measure the success of the interventions against the set goals.

2)     Adjustments: Describe any adjustments made to the intervention plan based on ongoing evaluation.

  1. Conclusion

1)     Summary: Summarize the entire process and outcomes.

2)     Reflection: Reflect on what worked well and what could be improved.

  1. Appendices

1)     Documentation: Include any forms, assessments, and notes used during the case.

Sample Case Study:

Client Profile:

  1. Name: Somchai
  2. Age: 45
  3. Occupation: Farmer
  4. Family: Married with two children, aged 12 and 15

Presenting Problem

Overview: Somchai has been struggling with alcohol dependency for the past ten years. His dependency has led to significant issues within his family and community, impacting their overall well-being and stability.


  1. Alcohol Dependency:

1)     Somchai’s alcohol use began as a coping mechanism following a series of crop failures that led to financial stress.

2)     His consumption has progressively increased, resulting in a physical dependency on alcohol.

  1. Domestic Violence:

1)     Somchai’s alcohol-induced behavior has resulted in episodes of domestic violence.

2)     A severe incident recently occurred where Somchai physically harmed his wife, Ploy, causing minor injuries and emotional trauma to both Ploy and their children.

  1. Financial Instability:

1)     The family’s financial situation has deteriorated due to Somchai’s inconsistent work performance and spending on alcohol.

2)     The financial stress has compounded the family’s issues, leading to debt and the inability to meet basic needs.

  1. Health Deterioration:

1)     Somchai’s health has worsened due to prolonged alcohol abuse, leading to liver issues and general poor health.

2)     The family lacks access to adequate healthcare due to their rural location and financial constraints.

  1. Psychological Impact on Family:

1)     Ploy and the children are experiencing significant psychological distress, including anxiety and fear of Somchai’s unpredictable behavior.

2)     The children’s academic performance and social interactions have been negatively affected.

  1. Community Stigma:

1)     There is a lack of awareness and high stigma around mental health and substance abuse within the community.

2)     The family feels isolated and unsupported due to community attitudes towards their situation.

Conclusion: The presenting problem is multifaceted, involving substance abuse, domestic violence, financial instability, health issues, psychological impact on family members, and community stigma. Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive intervention plan that considers the immediate safety, substance abuse treatment, financial support, mental health services, and community education.



Assessment Overview:

A comprehensive assessment was conducted to understand the extent of Somchai’s alcohol dependency and its impact on his family. The assessment included individual interviews, family discussions, and consultations with health care providers and community leaders.

Key Areas of Assessment:

  1. Alcohol Dependency:

1)     History: Somchai’s alcohol dependency began ten years ago following a series of crop failures. He started drinking to cope with stress, which gradually escalated to daily consumption.

2)     Current Usage: Somchai consumes a significant amount of alcohol daily, which affects his ability to work and fulfill family responsibilities.

3)     Physical Health Impact: Medical records indicate liver damage and other alcohol-related health issues.

  1. Domestic Violence:

1)     Incident Reports: Ploy reported multiple instances of domestic violence, with the most recent incident causing minor physical injuries.

2)     Impact on Children: The children exhibit signs of trauma, including anxiety, fear, and withdrawal from social activities.

  1. Financial Situation:

1)     Income and Expenses: The family relies solely on farming, with inconsistent income due to crop failures. Financial records show substantial debt and inability to cover basic needs.

2)     Debt Management: The family lacks a structured plan for managing debt and financial planning.

  1. Mental Health:

1)     Somchai: Exhibits signs of depression and anxiety, exacerbated by his alcohol dependency.

2)     Ploy and Children: Ploy experiences stress and anxiety due to domestic violence and financial instability. The children show signs of emotional distress, affecting their school performance.

  1. Community and Social Support:

1)     Stigma and Isolation: The family feels isolated due to the stigma surrounding substance abuse and domestic violence in their rural community.

2)     Community Resources: Limited access to mental health and substance abuse resources. Local community leaders are willing to collaborate but lack awareness and training.

  1. Environmental Factors:

1)     Living Conditions: The family lives in a rural area with limited access to healthcare and social services.

2)     Support Networks: Extended family and friends are supportive but lack the resources to provide significant assistance.

Tools and Methods Used:

1.      Interviews:

1)     Conducted in-depth interviews with Somchai, Ploy, and their children to gather detailed personal histories, understand their experiences, and assess their needs.

2)     Used structured and semi-structured interview techniques to ensure comprehensive information gathering while allowing flexibility for open-ended responses.

2.      Medical Records:

1)     Reviewed Somchai’s medical records to assess the physical health impact of his alcohol dependency, including liver damage and other alcohol-related health issues.

2)     Consulted with healthcare providers to understand the medical implications and to coordinate an appropriate detoxification and rehabilitation plan.

3.      Financial Records:

1)     Analyzed the family’s financial records to assess their financial situation, identify debts, and understand their income and expenditure patterns.

2)     Worked with a financial advisor to develop a realistic debt management plan and explore options for financial aid.

4.      Psychological Assessments:

1)     Conducted psychological assessments for Somchai, Ploy, and their children to evaluate their mental health status.

2)     Used standardized tools to measure levels of anxiety, depression, and trauma, helping to tailor psychological support and therapy accordingly.

5.      Community Consultations:

1)     Engaged with local community leaders, healthcare providers, and social services to understand the community context and available resources.

2)     Facilitated community consultations to raise awareness about substance abuse and mental health issues, aiming to reduce stigma and foster a supportive environment.

6.      Family Tree (Genogram):

1)     Created a genogram to map out the family structure, relationships, and significant events affecting the family dynamics.

2)     Used the genogram to identify patterns of behavior, such as substance abuse and domestic violence, and to understand the family’s history and intergenerational influences.

7.      Ecomap:

1)     Developed an ecomap to visualize the family’s connections with their external environment, including social supports, community resources, and stressors.

2)     The ecomap helped identify strengths and gaps in the family’s support network, guiding the intervention plan to enhance social support.

8.      Trauma-Informed Approach:

1)     Applied a trauma-informed approach throughout the intervention, recognizing the impact of trauma on the family and ensuring that all interactions were sensitive to their experiences.

2)     Focused on building trust, safety, and empowerment, particularly for Ploy and the children.

9.      Risk Assessment Tools:

1)     Utilized risk assessment tools to evaluate the severity of domestic violence and potential future risks to the family’s safety.

2)     Based on the risk assessment, developed safety plans, and made necessary referrals to legal and protective services.

10.   Community Workshops:

1)     Organized and conducted workshops in the community to educate members about substance abuse, mental health, and available support services.

2)     Engaged community leaders in these workshops to enhance their understanding and ability to support affected families.

11.   Case Management Software:

1)     Employed case management software to document and track the progress of the intervention plan, ensuring coordinated and efficient service delivery.

2)     Used the software to schedule follow-ups, record outcomes, and maintain comprehensive case notes.

12.   Collaborative Meetings:

1)     Held regular collaborative meetings with all professionals involved in the case, including healthcare providers, financial advisors, psychologists, and community leaders.

2)     Ensured a coordinated and integrated approach to address the multifaceted needs of Somchai and his family.


The comprehensive use of these tools and methods ensured a thorough understanding of Somchai’s situation and the development of an effective, holistic intervention plan. Each tool provided valuable insights, helping to address the family’s complex needs and facilitating their journey towards stability and well-being.

Key Findings

1.    Alcohol Dependency:

1)     Onset and Escalation: Somchai’s alcohol dependency started ten years ago due to crop failures and financial stress. His drinking escalated from occasional use to daily consumption.

2)     Health Impact: Somchai has significant health issues, including liver damage and general poor health, resulting from prolonged alcohol abuse.

2.    Domestic Violence:

1)     Incidents: Multiple instances of domestic violence have been reported, with a recent severe incident causing minor injuries to Ploy.

2)     Family Impact: The violence has created a hostile and unsafe home environment, causing emotional trauma to Ploy and their children.

3.    Financial Instability:

1)     Income Disruption: Somchai’s inconsistent work performance due to his alcohol dependency has led to financial instability. The family struggles to meet basic needs and has accumulated substantial debt.

2)     Lack of Financial Planning: The family has no structured plan for managing their debts and financial situation, exacerbating their instability.

4.    Mental Health Impact:

1)     Somchai: Exhibits signs of depression and anxiety, worsened by his alcohol dependency.

2)     Ploy and Children: Ploy is under significant stress and anxiety due to domestic violence and financial problems. The children are emotionally distressed, impacting their school performance and social interactions.

5.    Community and Social Support:

1)     Stigma: High levels of stigma around substance abuse and mental health issues in the community have led to the family feeling isolated and unsupported.

2)     Limited Resources: There is a lack of local resources for mental health and substance abuse treatment, making it difficult for the family to access necessary support.

6.    Environmental Factors:

1)     Living Conditions: The family lives in a rural area with limited access to healthcare and social services, further complicating their situation.

2)     Support Networks: Although extended family and friends are supportive, they lack the resources to provide significant assistance.

7.    Community Readiness:

Willingness to Collaborate: Local community leaders and healthcare providers are willing to collaborate but need awareness and training to effectively support families dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.

Conclusion: The findings underscore the multifaceted nature of Somchai’s situation, involving severe alcohol dependency, domestic violence, financial instability, and significant mental health needs. The family’s rural location and the community’s stigma further complicate access to necessary resources and support. Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive and collaborative intervention plan that includes immediate safety measures, substance abuse treatment, financial counseling, mental health services, and community education.

Intervention Plan

1. Immediate Safety and Support:


1)     Temporary Shelter: Arrange temporary shelter for Ploy and the children to ensure their safety from domestic violence.

2)     Legal Support: Provide Ploy with information on legal rights and resources for victims of domestic violence.


1)     Ensuring the immediate physical safety of Ploy and the children by relocating them to a secure place.

2)     Empowering Ploy with knowledge about her legal options and rights to protect herself and her children.

2. Substance Abuse Treatment:


1)     Rehabilitation Program: Connect Somchai with a local rehabilitation center specializing in alcohol dependency.

2)     Detoxification and Rehabilitation Plan: Coordinate with health professionals to develop a personalized detoxification and rehabilitation plan.


1)     Facilitate Somchai’s enrolment in a rehabilitation program to address his alcohol dependency.

2)     Collaborate with healthcare providers to create a structured plan for Somchai’s recovery, including medical and psychological support.

3. Financial Counseling and Support:


1)     Debt Management: Work with a financial advisor to help the family manage their debts and create a financial plan.

2)     Financial Aid: Seek community support and government aid programs to provide immediate financial relief and long-term assistance.


1)     Assist the family in developing a realistic and manageable plan to address their financial debts and improve their financial stability.

2)     Explore and apply for available financial aid programs to alleviate the family’s immediate financial burdens.

4. Mental Health Services:


1)     Psychological Counseling: Refer Ploy and the children to a psychologist for trauma counseling.

2)     Family Therapy: Organize family therapy sessions to improve communication and rebuild trust within the family.


1)     Provide trauma counseling for Ploy and the children to address the emotional impact of domestic violence.

2)     Facilitate family therapy to strengthen family bonds and improve coping strategies.

5. Community Education and Engagement:


1)     Community Workshops: Conduct workshops in the community to raise awareness about substance abuse and mental health issues.

2)     Stigma Reduction: Collaborate with local leaders to reduce stigma and promote supportive attitudes towards individuals seeking help.


1)     Educate the community about the effects of substance abuse and the importance of mental health support through interactive workshops.

2)     Work with community leaders to foster a more accepting and supportive environment for families dealing with these issues.

Expected Outcomes

1.      Safety and Stability:

1)     Immediate Safety: Ploy and the children will be relocated to a temporary shelter, ensuring their immediate physical safety from domestic violence.

2)     Legal Protection: Ploy will be informed about her legal rights and have access to resources that protect her and her children from future harm.

2.      Reduction in Alcohol Dependency:

1)     Rehabilitation Completion: Somchai will complete the rehabilitation program, leading to a significant reduction in alcohol consumption.

2)     Sustained Sobriety: Continued support through counseling and support groups will help Somchai maintain sobriety and improve his overall health.

3.      Financial Improvement:

1)     Debt Management: The family will have a structured financial plan to manage debts, reducing financial stress.

2)     Financial Aid: Securing government aid and community support will provide immediate financial relief, improving their economic stability.

4.      Enhanced Mental Health:

1)     Psychological Support: Ploy and the children will receive psychological counseling, addressing trauma and improving their mental health.

2)     Family Cohesion: Family therapy sessions will enhance communication and rebuild trust, leading to a more supportive and cohesive family unit.

5.      Community Support and Awareness:

1)     Increased Awareness: Community workshops will raise awareness about substance abuse and mental health issues, reducing stigma.

2)     Supportive Environment: Collaboration with community leaders will foster a more accepting and supportive environment for families dealing with similar issues.

6.      Improved Health and Well-being:

1)     Physical Health: Somchai’s overall health will improve due to reduced alcohol consumption and access to medical care.

2)     Emotional Stability: The family’s emotional well-being will be enhanced through continuous psychological support and a more stable home environment.

Evaluation Metrics

1.      Safety and Stability:

1)     Number of families relocated to temporary shelter within one week.

2)     Legal support accessed by Ploy within one week.

2.      Reduction in Alcohol Dependency:

1)     Reduction in Somchai’s alcohol consumption by 50% within three months.

2)     Completion of rehabilitation program within six months.

3.      Financial Improvement:

1)     Development of a financial plan within one month.

2)     Amount of financial aid secured within three months.

4.      Enhanced Mental Health:

1)     Number of counseling sessions attended by family members (at least 10 sessions per member).

2)     Improvement in family’s mental health scores within six months.

5.      Community Support and Awareness:

1)     Attendance at community workshops (at least 50 attendees per workshop).

2)     Reduction in reported stigma levels by 10% within six months.

3)     Engagement of at least five community leaders.

6.      Improved Health and Well-being:

1)     Improvement in Somchai’s health metrics within six months.

2)     Increase in family’s overall emotional stability and well-being scores.


Regular follow-up meetings will be scheduled to monitor the progress of the intervention plan. Adjustments will be made based on the family’s needs and feedback from involved professionals. The social worker will maintain close contact with the family and community leaders to ensure the intervention plan’s success and sustainability.


1.      Holistic Approach: The intervention plan underscores the importance of addressing multiple aspects of a client’s life in social work. By considering the physical, mental, financial, and social dimensions, the plan aims to create a comprehensive support system for Somchai and his family. This holistic approach is crucial in addressing complex and interrelated issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and financial instability.

2.      Client-Centered Focus: The case highlights the necessity of a client-centered focus in social work. By involving Somchai and his family in the assessment and intervention process, the social worker ensured that their needs, preferences, and strengths were central to the planning. This approach not only empowers the clients but also increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.

3.      Collaboration and Networking: The intervention plan’s success relies heavily on collaboration with various stakeholders, including healthcare providers, financial advisors, psychologists, community leaders, and legal professionals. This case demonstrates the value of building a strong network of support and leveraging community resources to address the clients’ needs comprehensively.

4.      Community Education and Engagement: Raising awareness and reducing stigma in the community were critical components of the intervention. The workshops and collaboration with community leaders aimed to foster a more supportive environment for Somchai and his family, illustrating the role of community education in achieving sustainable change.

5.      Immediate and Long-Term Interventions: Balancing immediate interventions with long-term strategies was essential in this case. Immediate actions, such as ensuring the family’s safety and connecting Somchai with a rehabilitation center, were crucial for addressing urgent needs. Simultaneously, long-term strategies, such as financial planning and community engagement, aimed to create lasting improvements in the family’s well-being.

6.      Challenges and Adaptations: This case also highlights the challenges faced in rural areas with limited access to resources. The social worker had to be adaptable, using creative solutions and leveraging available community support to fill gaps in services. The importance of flexibility and adaptability in social work cannot be overstated, especially when working with under-resourced populations.

7.      Empowerment and Resilience: By providing Ploy with legal knowledge and financial planning assistance, the intervention plan aimed to empower her and enhance the family’s resilience. Empowerment is a key principle in social work, helping clients gain control over their lives and make informed decisions.

8.      Mental Health Integration: The integration of mental health services for all family members was a crucial aspect of the intervention. Addressing the psychological impact of domestic violence and substance abuse through counseling and therapy was essential for the family’s overall recovery and stability.

9.      Evaluation and Continuous Improvement: The use of key performance indicators (KPIs) and regular follow-up meetings ensures that the intervention plan remains dynamic and responsive to the family’s needs. This continuous evaluation allows for timely adjustments and improvements, enhancing the effectiveness of the intervention.

Conclusion: This case study demonstrates the multifaceted role of social workers in addressing complex social issues. The intervention plan’s comprehensive, client-centered, and collaborative approach was pivotal in supporting Somchai and his family. Reflecting on this case reinforces the importance of holistic, adaptable, and empowering strategies in social work practice. Through continuous learning and collaboration, social workers can make a profound difference in the lives of individuals and communities facing challenging circumstances.



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