All psychiatrists should be able to construct a psychodynamic formulation of a case. A key advantage of formulation over diagnosis is that it can be used to predict how an individual might respond in certain situations and to various psychotherapies. This article looks in some depth at what psychiatric trainees need to be taught about psychodynamic formulation. We introduce formulation in terms of four levels, each level corresponding to a different degree of theoretical and clinical sophistication and therefore to different trainees' needs. We use a case vignette to illustrate how a clinical situation might be formulated at each of these levels.
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