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Case Example Exercise – Attachment and Social-Emotional Competence

You are members of a therapeutic team at ResilExcellence, a child and family social service provider that has been contracted by the local school system to provide services to children in several elementary schools. ResilExcellence was founded on the principles of the resilience perspective.

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Your team has just been assigned a new case. Following agency protocol, you have been asked to develop a pre-assessment based on a case summary forwarded to your agency by the school counselor (below).

The purpose of this pre-assessment is to identify and explore presenting issues that are potentially related to two broad categories of developmental competence: attachment and emotional and social competence. The pre-assessment must contain the following components:

· Identify the issues that are potentially related to attachment and emotional and social competence. For example, you might view a child’s behavior as evidencing insecure attachment.

· Develop a set of hypotheses about the underlying causes (i.e., individual, familial, extra-familial) of these issues. These hypotheses should explicate the links between the presenting issue (e.g., child behavior problem), type of competence (e.g., emotional competence), and antecedent circumstances (e.g., parental emotion talk). Note any assumptions you need to make about this case that are not evidenced from the case summary. Make sure your descriptions are as specific as possible so that they stand up to scrutiny.

· Based on the tenets of the social cognitive resilience perspective, develop a set of practice recommendations that pertain to each hypotheses; some of the recommendations will apply to more than one hypothesis.

· Record your conclusions in the ResilExcellence Pre-Assessment (Attachment and Social-Emotional Competence) Instrument

*** In order to ensure that you have time to work through each step, first identify one or two salient issues and develop your hypotheses and practice recommendations for these before you identify any other issues.

Case Summary (October 15th, 2021)

Will (male, age 11, 5th grade) and Loni (male, age 8, 3rd grade) attend a local elementary school. Both boys transferred to the school at the beginning of the school year. The boys live with the mother (Mila), father (Johnny), and baby sister Keely (age 9 months).


Beginning soon after the start of school, Will’s classroom teacher has expressed concerns about his behavior in the classroom. She reports that Will has difficulty controlling his emotions. For example, when other children have cut in line or taken classroom materials from Will , he has “melted down,” screaming and walking around very agitated. When asked about this behavior by the school psychologist, Will said that, “I just get so angry,” “other kids should know to act better,” and “I just explode.” Will has also has had a hard time making friends. Some of the other children report that Will is a “bully,” and will “ruin our games.”

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