When I was working with a Psychologist at the specialist hospital, the best work we ever did together was formulations. In that instance, it meant that we looked at particular behaviours of mine and figured out what caused me to do them and what the consequences were. This meant, I learnt the cycle I was stuck in. So, for example, I might be struggling mentally but can't tell someone, so it would exhibit as a physical symptom, which then meant I didn't get the right help and so it would go round in a circle. After identifying formulations, all those behaviours we looked into, stopped, because I now knew why they were happening and what I could do instead. So, I was very interested when I saw this course in the Recovery College prospectus.
We were taught that 'psychological formulations' are a hypothesis about a person's difficulties based on psychological principles and theories, it's an attempt to understand and make sense of something that appears very complex. The positives of such formulations, are that they can be an alternative to a diagnosis which is often viewed as an unhelpful label. Formulations are also more of a explanation in the way that they don't focus on what is 'wrong' with you, but what has happened to you, and this sees you as a whole person. Formulations are not just for professionals, they are a shared understanding in helping service users to make sense of how their experiences relate to their current behaviours, and to make even the most bizarre behaviours understandable to professionals. This, increases empathy and compassion, whilst reducing the service user's feelings of shame and giving them hope as they establish what can be done to change their current situation.
Early life experiences can impact on how we learn to relate to others, what we think about ourselves, how we expect others to treat and relate to ourselves, and how we view the world.
If, after reading this, you think it would be helpful for you to put together a formulation then please seek professional advice and guidance first.