Domain V: Collaborate with Clients to Apply a Contextualized, Systemic Lens to Case Conceptualization

Domain V of the CRSJ counselling model (Collins, 2018) focuses on the collaborative co-construction of meaning by counsellor and client about the client’s presenting concerns and the preferred outcomes as a foundation for engaging together in the process of change. Case conceptualization is both a process and an outcome. The outcome of case conceptualization is a meaningful, culturally responsive, and socially just explanation for the perceived problem that provides some direction for how the client would like things to be different (Passmore & Oades, 2015). The process of multicultural case conceptualization involves examining (a) the salience of culture for this particular client with this specific presenting concern; (b) the context of the problem, including sociocultural narratives, experiences of privilege and marginalization, and of other potential social determinants of health; and the locus of control or responsibility for the problem (Lee et al., 2013; Ratts et al., 2015). The latter requires  a conceptual shift away from a narrow intrapsychic focus of traditional individualist therapeutic models (Audet, 2016) to a contextualized, systemic approach that opens the door to change at various levels of intervention. The outcome of multicultural case conceptualization is a clear statement, that is meaningful to and co-constructed by both client and counsellor, about how and why problems emerged and what the client envisions for their preferred future (Paré, 2013).

The three chapters in this section of the teaching and learning guide provide learning activities related to the three core competencies (CC) in this domain.

Core Competencies for CRSJ Counselling

Domain V: Collaborate with Clients to Apply a Contextualized, Systemic Lens to Case Conceptualization

CC13 Metatheoretical and Theoretical Lenses: Establish culturally responsive and socially just metatheoretical and theoretical lenses.

CC14 Case Conceptualization: Position client presenting concerns and counselling goals within the context of culture and social location.

CC15 Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Change: Collaborate to target levels of intervention and to co-construct change processes that are responsive to culture and social location.

Note. Copyright 2018 by S. Collins.


Audet, C. (2016). Social justice and advocacy in a Canadian context. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds.), Handbook of counselling and psychotherapy in Canada (pp. 95-122). Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Collins, S. (2018). Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology. Counselling Concepts.

Lee, D. L., Sheridan, D. J., Rosen, A. D., & Jones, I. (2013). Psychotherapy trainees’ multicultural case conceptualization content: Thematic differences across three cases. Psychotherapy, 50(2), 206-212.

Paré, D. (2013). The practice of collaborative counseling & psychotherapy: Developing skills in culturally mindful counselling. Sage.

Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2015). Positive psychology techniques – Positive case conceptualisation. Coaching Psychologist, 11(1), 43-45.


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