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Clin Psychol Psychother. 2017 Jan;24(1):212-225. doi: 10.1002/cpp.1998. Epub 2016 Jan 11.

Developing Emotion-Based Case Formulations: A Research-Informed Method.

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University of Windsor, Psychology, Windsor, Canada.
Institute for Psychotherapy, Department of Psychiatry-CHUV, University of Windsor, Psychology, Prilly-Lausanne, Switzerland.



New research-informed methods for case conceptualization that cut across traditional therapy approaches are increasingly popular. This paper presents a trans-theoretical approach to case formulation based on the research observations of emotion.


The sequential model of emotional processing (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2007) is a process research model that provides concrete markers for therapists to observe the emerging emotional development of their clients. We illustrate how this model can be used by clinicians to track change and provides a 'clinical map,' by which therapist may orient themselves in-session and plan treatment interventions.


Emotional processing offers as a trans-theoretical framework for therapists who wish to conduct emotion-based case formulations. First, we present criteria for why this research model translates well into practice. Second, two contrasting case studies are presented to demonstrate the method.


The model bridges research with practice by using client emotion as an axis of integration. Key Practitioner Message Process research on emotion can offer a template for therapists to make case formulations while using a range of treatment approaches. The sequential model of emotional processing provides a 'process map' of concrete markers for therapists to (1) observe the emerging emotional development of their clients, and (2) help therapists develop a treatment plan. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Case Conceptualization; Case Formulation; Emotion; Process; Psychotherapy Integration; Zone of Proximal Development

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