Cultural Formulation Interview
- Dorie GilbertDorie GilbertPrairie View A&M University
- and Katarzyna OlcońKatarzyna OlcońUniversity of Wollongong
Research indicates that practitioners’ cultural biases are a barrier to effective cross-cultural assessment; thus, social work practitioners must demonstrate the ability to appraise a client’s cultural context in assessing and treating mental health concerns. The Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides practitioners with a standardized cultural assessment method for use in mental health practice. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the CFI with a focus on its four domains: (a) cultural definition of the problem; (b) cultural perception of cause, context, and support; (c) cultural factors affecting self-coping and past help-seeking; and (d) cultural factors affecting current help-seeking. Conceptualizations of mental health and mental illness vary across cultural subgroups, and the nation’s changing demographics underscore the need to give particular attention to how the CFI can be useful for improving cross-cultural assessment with historically excluded or marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The CFI is an important step towards culturally grounded assessments; however, it has several conceptualization and implementation limitations, including its narrow focus on individual-level cultural explanations of distress while the effects of social inequities remain masked. The article concludes with additional considerations for cross-cultural assessment and implications for social work education and practice.