Sample Sociology Article’s Summary on Cultural Formulation by Dean and Poorvu

The model of assessment and formulation has become the center of focus in debates on clinical and social work practices. Dean and Poorvu (2008) in, “Assessment and formulation: A contemporary social work perspective”, assert that the form that clinical and social work practices are likely to take in the future will be strongly influenced by how social work educators and clinical practitioners conceptualize the processes of assessment and formulation. The model of assessment and formulation is comprehensive and multidimensional as it outlines several knowledge areas that social workers and clinical practitioners should consider in understanding a client and the situation presented (Dean & Poorvu, 2008). The article asserts that assessment is the act of gathering information about a client, which is related to the patient’s clinical or social issue. During an assessment, social workers or clinical practitioners establish inferences and hypotheses and develop a relationship with the client as they increase their understanding of the issue or problem presented to them. According to the authors, the formulation is the act of conceptualizing the client’s situation and making appropriate clinical or social care decisions to help the patient recover from a particular problem.

The article further asserts that clinical and social work practices have faced numerous challenges brought about by intellectual, political, and social forces. The model has been shaped over time by changes in orientation to knowledge, theories, and new practices. The article argues that different orientations to knowledge and theories, including empiricist and post-empiricist, as well as realist and constructionist, have contributed to major changes in the model of assessment and formulation and its application in clinical and social work practice (Dean & Poorvu, 2008). The article critiques the history of assessment and formulation in social work. Dean and Poorvu (2008) argue that, for a long time, social work practice has been associated with the belief among the general public that it involves the offering of assistance to needy individuals without pay. Moreover, social work practice has failed to be recognized as a profession. The article argues that despite the beliefs about social work, the practice has encountered significant changes related to shifts in ideological differences. Social work practice has also been integrated into theories, models, and approaches, such as the psychoanalytic theory.

The article contends that numerous perspectives have shaped social work practice. Some of these perspectives are social justice, ecological, psychological, spiritual, systematic approaches, biological, and others. The article argues that in addressing a client’s situation, clinical practice or a social worker must understand the relationship between the shortlisted perspectives and the patient’s issues. Taking this approach may help to improve a client’s general well-being. The article gives an example to justify how the model of assessment and formulation can be applied in social work or clinical practice. The example provided by the article involves a 20-year old girl, Angela, who has been abandoned by her baby’s father and is experiencing a challenge to take care of the 10-month old child who has been diagnosed with a serious condition and is in a hospital. The article provides a step-by-step process of how a clinical practitioner or social worker can address Angela’s problem using the assessment and formulation model.

Cultural Formulation and Its Importance

From a personal perspective, cultural formulation is essential in the clinical diagnosis of a patient’s condition. The importance of adopting this strategy is that it enables the clinician to understand the effects of culture when diagnosing clients. I believe that for clinicians to address various issues presented to them, they must first understand the client’s cultural identity. According to Lim, Díaz, & Ton (2015), understanding a client’s identity involves taking note of the patient’s ethnic or cultural reference group, degree of involvement with the culture of origin, and language ability, use, and preference. Clinicians also ought to understand the cultural explanations of a client’s illness. This implies that clinicians should analyze how various cultural aspects might have contributed to the client’s illness. Moreover, by utilizing the cultural formulation model, clinicians must examine the cultural factors related to a client’s psychosocial environment and level of functioning. This implies that clinicians should examine how various social stressors and social support systems influence a patient’s illness (Gilbert & Olcoń, 2020). Moreover, clinicians must assess the cultural differences that may exist between them and the clients and understand how to put the differences aside to help address issues or problems effectively.

Comparison of the Article and Video

            The article and the video both focus on the issue of cultural formulation and its importance in social work practice. The information presented in both the article and video demonstrates that clinicians should consider various factors when addressing the needs of their patients. Some of those factors include psychological, spiritual, ecological, patient’s ethnic or cultural reference group, and language aspects. Both the article and the video assert clinicians and social workers ought to assess these shortlisted aspects and understand how they may have influenced a client’s situation before engaging them in a particular treatment procedure.

How to Incorporate Cultural Formulation Interview

Cultural formulation interview (CFI) is significant in clinical or social work practice as it helps clinical practitioners or social workers to understand how the effects of culture may have influenced a client’s condition or issue. I can incorporate CFI in the diagnosis of clients by adhering to the guidelines that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has outlined in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). This would involve inquiring about the patient’s ethnic identity, examining how various cultural aspects may have contributed to the client’s issue, and having a discussion with the patient related to the treatment procedure that his or her culture considers as the most effective for addressing a given problem.



Dean, R. G., & Poorvu, N. L. (2008). Assessment and formulation: A contemporary social work perspective. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 89(4), 596-604.

Gilbert, D., & Olcoń, K. (2020). Cultural Formulation Interview. Encyclopedia of Social Work.

Lim, R. F., Díaz, E., & Ton, H. (2015). Cultural competence in psychiatric education using the Cultural Formulation Interview. DSM-5 Handbook on the Cultural Formulation Interview, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, 253-266.