What is formulation?

Formulation is a way for us to understand you and your difficulties.

When you have a problem it is really important to try and understand it:

  • where it comes from?
  • what keeps it there?

Everyone is unique, and so everyone’s problems are unique too.

This goes for all problems but it is very true for psychological problems:

  • like low mood (what some people call depression)
  • worries (what some people call anxiety)
  • self harm or self injury
  • suicidal thoughts.

You are a person after all, not just a set of problems or difficulties, or a diagnosis. Once a problem is better understood it is easier to find ways to help.

What is a formulation meeting?

You will be offered a formulation meeting as part of your care.

The formulation team members may include:

  • consultant psychiatrist
  • psychologist
  • nurse
  • social workers
  • occupational therapist.

After the professionals have met, the team would like to meet with you to hear your thoughts and ideas about what goals you would like to set to help you make changes. Your care co-ordinator/lead professional will then work with you to write your care plan together.

The formulation meeting

During the meeting team members will discuss the information that you have given us about the following:

  • your background
  • things that are causing you difficulty
  • experiences or events may have triggered your current difficulties, including anything that has happened in the past
  • things that make you more vulnerable to developing these difficulties
  • thoughts, feelings or behaviours that are keeping the problems going
  • strengths you have that help you to cope
  • support from family and other services

An action plan will be agreed that describes the aims or goals of your treatment and thoughts about what can be done to help you.

The team will invite you to join them at the end of the meeting. They will discuss the outcomes of the formulation with you. We would encourage you to invite family and carers to this.

If you do not want to attend the formulation and would prefer to be given feedback by your care coordinator, please let us know.


Leaflet reference: L825
Version: V1
Date last updated: 12 / 2016
Archive date: 12 / 2019

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