New Idea

Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 99-104

Psychosocial Formulation Training Using Commercial Films

  • Donald A. MischAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia Email author 

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With the explosion of neurobiology research in psychiatry, the ability of psychiatry residents to construct psychosocial formulations for their patients appears to have declined. Although the traditional methods of teaching psychosocial case formulation (written references, individual psychotherapy supervision, clinical case conferences) remain important and effective, the changing orientation of academic psychiatry as well as the decreasing time allotted to psychotherapy suggest that psychosocial formulation training must increasingly compete with the myriad other aspects of psychiatry to which residents are exposed. Over the past 5 years, we have complemented the traditional psychosocial formulation curriculum with a highly structured teaching venue in which psychiatry residents regularly observe commercial films and then, as a group, construct psychosocial formulations for the principal characters. In this article, the author reviews the opportunities, advantages, and success of this complementary approach.