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Emotion Focused Formulation

The Emotion Focused Formulation was developed by Isabel Clarke in an acute mental health context but this approach also has wider applicability. It places the client’s felt sense at the center with maintenance cycles derived from functional/behavioral analysis.

The Emotion Focused Formulation was developed by Isabel Clarke in an acute mental health context (i.e. inpatient mental health) but this approach also has wider applicability. It places the client’s felt sense at the center with maintenance cycles derived from functional/behavioral analysis. Significant past events and recent stresses triggers give context to the client’s current experience. It is the ‘intolerable internal state’ which is identified as the source of the problem behavior/experiences that have brought the client to therapy. Therapists are encouraged as much as possible to use the client’s language, and to translate difficulties into behavioral terms. Thanks to Isabel Clarke for allowing us to reproduce some of her example formulations.

Further information and training is available from http://www.isabelclarke.org

Presentation on CBT in inpatient and crisis settings http://www.isabelclarke.org/docs/Edinburgh_2008.ppt

  • Clarke, I. (2015). The emotion focused formulation approach: bridging individual and team formulation. Clinical Psychology Forum, 275, 28-32.
  • Clarke, I., Wilson, H. (2008). Cognitive behaviour therapy for acute inpatient mental health units: Working with clients, staff, and the milieu. London: Routledge.

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