Formulation - your unique story
We are all unique. We all have our own stories to tell, our own unique beauty and our own flaws. Our present internal perceptions and understanding of how we function, and how the world operates around us, are invariably as a result of our 'core beliefs'. These beliefs have been developed from childhood through to adult experiences. These experiences have consequently shaped how we think, how we feel, and how we behave; all unique to ourselves. Irrespective of how unhelpful these 'core beliefs' are, we believe them.
From our past experiences we develop certain (often unhelpful) thinking patterns that go unchallenged, causing us to feel a particular way about ourselves, about others, or about a past or forthcoming event. As a result, we convince ourselves that we are right, all because those beliefs we have often formed in childhood remain a constant and go unchallenged!
Throughout my work as a mental health nurse and in my life coaching, I have worked with many clients who have developed unhelpful patterns of thinking, leading to negative feelings, and inhibiting, or even using self-destructive behaviours, that simply maintain the cycle of negativity. A common example is having worked with clients' whom have experienced bullying at school or had negative experiences with teachers and/or people in authority as a child, coupled with negative experiences latterly with work colleagues. Often, this has resulted in a client having developed their core beliefs around not trusting people due to an established belief that people cause harm or say hurtful things, make them feeling worthless, and as a consequence, resulting in low self-esteem and diminished confidence.
By working through an evolving story that offers the opportunity to be reviewed and refreshed, clients are able to identify there is a reason they have these current experiences. The realisation that there is actually a reason for the way they think, feel and behave can provide greater self-understanding, comfort, control, and ultimately, the ability to create a new chapter in their life by moving towards a future they desire. Listening to clients' and working through their story with them in order to identify what makes them 'tick' can be incredibly therapeutic for a client (and rewarding for a life coach). Essentially this is what a 'formulation' is; identifying what core beliefs may be held associated with significant past events in someone's life.
As suggested above, working through an evolving formulation with a client indeed provides both parties with the opportunity to gain a further understanding of the clients schema. Equally as important however, is it enables both client and coach to develop a plan that frees them from negative beliefs and creates a positive, goal orientated future.
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About Matt Hemsley
I became a life coach following a career of over 20 years as a mental health nurse working initially on an acute psychiatric ward and then predominantly in the community. I use psycho-social interventions and am a strong believer in adopting a CBT approach with my clients.