A case formulation is a tool for making sense of a client’s story. It turns the many pieces of an assessment into a single narrative, or a hypothesis. The case formulation bridges the assessment and treatment plan, and informs a clinician’s treatment choices.
In the Case Formulation worksheet, a client’s vulnerabilities (e.g. risk factors), problems, and triggers are used to generate a single hypothesis that makes sense of their unique case.
Many therapies, such as CBT, recommend involving clients in their case formulation. This allows clients to have input and gain perspective on their situation, while ensuring the client and clinician are on the same page. A case formulation is not set in stone—It should evolve as you get to know the client, and as therapy progresses.
1. Jacqueline, B. P., & Lisa, S. T. (2015). Developing and using a case formulation to guide cognitive-behavior therapy. Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy, 5(3), 1.
2. Persons, J. B. (2012). The case formulation approach to cognitive-behavior therapy. Guilford Press.