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Belief-Driven Formulation

Cognitive behavioral theory proposes that our thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the here-and-now are influenced by our schemas / core beliefs / assumptions. This case conceptualization (formulation) diagram helps therapists and clients to explore these influences.

The Belief-Driven Formulation is a core-belief-driven cross-sectional cognitive behavioral case conceptualization. Formulations of this type help to illustrate the critical role of underlying beliefs in the client’s interpretation of a particular situation. They can inform how a client’s beliefs can bias/prejudice their perception of situations. A formulation of this type can be particularly useful alongside discussion of schema bias / schema prejudice where it can motivate and inform schema change work.

When using this conceptualization diagram it may he helpful if you already have ideas about the client’s relevant underlying schemas. Alternatively it can be used in a more exploratory way with questions such as:

  • “Thinking about the situation we have outlined [cross-sectional component of the formulation], what kinds of beliefs about yourself, the world, or your future do you think shaped how you interpreted this situation?”

Clients can be helped to think about the impact of their core beliefs with questions such as:

  • “If you held a different belief about yourself how do you think you might have interpreted this situation?”
  • “Think about a selection of people you know, how do you think they would react in this situation? Why?”
  • Eells, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). Handbook of psychotherapy case formulation. Guilford Press.
  • Johnstone, L., & Dallos, R. (2013). Formulation in psychology and psychotherapy: Making sense of people’s problems. Routledge.
  • Kuyken, W., Padesky, C. A., & Dudley, R. (2008). Collaborative case conceptualization: Working effectively with clients in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Persons, J. B. (2012). The case formulation approach to cognitive-behavior therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Tarrier, N., & Johnson, J. (Eds.). (2015). Case formulation in cognitive behaviour therapy: The treatment of challenging and complex cases. Routledge.

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