Good practice guidelines on the use of psychological formulation

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Executive summary
The guidelines have been developed for the Division of Clinical Psychology for the purpose of promoting best practice in psychological formulation, which is a core competence for clinical psychologists. The guidance is intended to be of benefit to clinical psychologists and clinical psychology training courses. Briefer versions suitable for other stakeholders (e.g. commissioners, service users and carers) are currently being developed.

Good Practice Guidelines on the use of psychological formulation
There is no universally agreed definition of formulation, and it is understood and used in varying ways by different professional groups. For this reason, a relatively large proportion of the document is devoted to outlining definitions, purposes and general principles of formulation in relation to clinical psychology. These sections mayor may not be directly applicable to other professions (psychiatrists, nurses, etc.).

Formulation raises some areas of debate for the profession of clinical psychology, such as the use of integrative as opposed to single-model formulations, the use of psychiatric diagnosis alongside psychological formulation, and the role of formulation within its wider organisational and societal contexts. While these guidelines are not prescriptive about individual practice in any of these complex areas, they do attempt to establish some broad principles for best practice psychological formulations in order to inform the debate. Current evidence on the theory and practice of formulation, which is an under-researched area, is summarised. Ethical considerations relating to formulating are also discussed.
The document concludes with a summary and recommendations for further development and research. Appendix 1 consists of a checklist of good practice for clinical psychologists in formulation and formulating.

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