Formulation: More Than a Formula?

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Reviews the book, Formulation in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Making Sense of People's Problems, edited by Lucy Johnstone and Rudi Dallos (see record 2006-07983-000). The book is an edited collection combining chapters written by both the editors as well as other authors describing case formulation from a variety of theoretical orientations. The authors were apparently asked to ascribe to a loose organization of explaining the purpose and function of formulation from their particular school of thought and also of developing respective formulations for two clients–a man in his mid-20s and a 9-year-old girl. The strengths of the format chosen by Johnstone and Dallos include allowing practitioners of a particular orientation to author the chapter addressing formulation from that perspective. Along with the usual suspects of cognitive-behavioral therapy and a particularly well-crafted chapter on psychodynamic therapy, another strength of the chosen format is the inclusion of “modern” orientations such as social constructivism as well as integrative approaches less well-known in the United States such as cognitive-analytic therapy and attachment narrative therapy. A noticeable omission, however, is a chapter on interpersonal psychotherapy. Although the inclusion of modern approaches enhances the usefulness of the text as a teaching tool, the constructivist-positive psychology perspective overwhelms the rest of the text by showing up in the chapters on systemic therapy, social inequalities, narrative therapy, and the integrative chapters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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