Case Formulations

A CBT Case Formulation is “…a hypothesis about the nature of the psychological difficulty (or difficulties) underlying the problems on the patient’s problem list” explaining such problems in both Maintenance and Developmental terms and incorporating both cognitive and developmental factors. It “guides and structures the course of treatment by unifying and prioritising symptoms, influencing the choice and timing of interventions, and predicting possible problems. The cognitive case formulation approach is open to disconfirmation, grounded in empirical research, parsimonious, and readily understandable by clients.” (Persons, 1989)

Case Formulation Modules (CFMs) are part of the Diploma’s self-directed learning components.

First of all, the Diploma contains a separate online Case Formulation Course, which provides a useful underpinning and support to these self-directed components, along with a number of illustrative examples and practice opportunities. It is highly advisable that the students complete this online training as close to the beginning of their Diploma as possible as the skills obtained in this training will be essential for completion of the individual problem-based Case Formulation Modules (CFMs).

As part of demonstration by students of understanding theory of CBT and evidencing their skills in practical applications of CBT, there are 14 CFMs, which are mandatory for all Diploma students to complete and submit to SDS tutors for assessment and feedback. These are all problem based and map onto a number of the taught modules in the Diploma.

There are two case studies per each CFM that required to be completed by the student. Click here to see an example.

Once you book a CFM on a particular topic, SDS office will send you an email with two case studies that contain all the information required for your case formulations.

This email will also contain a link to a 40-slides presentation prepared for you by Paul Grantham that will give you detailed step-by-step guidance how to complete CFM and pass first time. Please make use of this presentation!

Completed Case Formulation Modules (CFMs) need to be need to be submitted to SDS within 60 DAYS of the relevant course’s completion by email ( in a neatly typed (not handwritten) diagrammatic form (typically one A4 diagram per case) along with a proposed treatment structure based on the formulation for each case. These are then sent by the office to one of the SDS tutors for assessment and feedback.

A simple pass/fail assessment of each Case Study is produced by the tutor for each submitted module. In the event of a “Pass” on both case studies, the requisite allocated hours are added to the student’s accumulative log. In the event of a “Fail” of any of the case studies, detailed feedback is provided. Qualitative feedback should be reflected on and incorporated into the student’s practice in both Pass and Fail instances. If only one of the cases is failed, you will only need to re-submit this one case, however, the whole CFM on the topic is recorded as failed until both cases have been passed by the assessing tutor. In case of a failure of your first submission you have an opportunity for ONE further submission within the module’s fee. If your second submission fails, you will have to pay your CF module fee again on this particular topic: full fee if both cases need to be re-assessed, 50% - if only one case needs to be re-submitted.