To understand the benefits and limitations of using psychological formulations for patients with severe mental illness, a qualitative study of staff views was conducted, based on semi-structured interviews with 25 staff working in a high-dependency rehabilitation service.
Participants believed that formulations benefited care planning, staff–patient relationships, staff satisfaction and teamworking, through increasing understanding of patients, bringing together staff with different views and encouraging more creative thinking. They particularly valued meeting together to develop the formulations. Some staff accepted formulations as tentative and provisional, whereas others regarded them as statements of conviction.
The study suggests that using psychological formulations in the care of psychiatric patients may well be valuable, but needs further exploration.
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