How Do We Decide Which of Two Case Formulations Is Correct? Commentary on Westerman and Critchfield et al.
Keywords:comparing case formulations, truth-value of clinical formulations, correspondence, coherence and pragmatic theories of truth, Interpersonal Defense Theory, Interpersonal Reconstructive Theory (IRT), case study, clinical case study
This commentary takes a meta-view of the articles in this module by Westerman (2021a), and by Critchfield, Dobner-Pereira and Stucker (2021a), which offer two overlapping but also different formulations of the same case. It raises the question of whether there is only one true formulation of a clinical case (correspondence theory), or whether any one of several would qualify as accurate (coherence theory). A third alternative is that the truth-value of a formulation is a function of its ability to predict which therapist interventions will most help the client (pragmatic theory). A study is described in which the relative accuracy of two different formulations of the same case was put to the test in predicting which therapist interventions led to client progress. I propose that the current authors compare the pragmatic value of their formulations in a similar manner.
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