Clinical formulation was introduced in its present form a little over 30 years ago and is, in essence, a concise summary of the origins and nature of a person's problems, together with opinion on what may go wrong in the future and what steps should be taken to improve matters. In our article we discuss how, in recent times, the task of preparing a clinical formulation has rightly become a multidisciplinary exercise involving the whole clinical team and, even more important, that nowadays the patient – the subject of the clinical formulation – together with their carers should also be actively involved in the process and feel some ownership of the conclusions and decisions. In addition, we compare these developments in clinical formulation with similar developments, arising for the same reasons, in clinical teaching and education.
• Understand the core principles of formulation
• Know how to prepare a formulation within a clinical team
• Understand the role that formulation plays in the effective management of patients