Child Friendly Leeds

One minute guide: Rethink Formulation

What is Rethink Formulation

When working with children, young people and families, formulation refers to the way we understand their needs and experiences and how we use that to inform our practice. In Leeds, as part of our Innovations and Partner in Practice Programme we have established our own formulation model, ‘Rethink Formulation’, often referred to across the city as the 6Ps.

Rethink Formulation is one of five aspects of the Leeds Practice Model that embody our values and expectations of practice to enable us to provide consistently high quality help, support and care. A similar tool is identified in the Safeguarding Children Assessment and Analysis Framework (SAAF) as a means of analysis within child and family assessments.

Why have we established Rethink Formulation

We have found that when working with families, services get into a pattern of assessments and short term interventions that end when there have been improvements. However, families often need help again. If we can understand better why previous interventions didn’t sustain positive change, we can avoid trying similar interventions again, which can result in the risk of families disengaging if these don’t work.

We want to try a new way of thinking, giving practitioners the time, space and tools to thoroughly and robustly work with families to analyse the information we already have about their circumstances, and to focus on addressing the presenting issues, rather than past ones.

Rethink Formulation provides a consistent and clear model for developing a shared understanding of a family and their presenting issues. This formulation can travel with the family into different services, and should reduce the number of assessments they have by providing an effective way to analyse the information we already have about their strengths and needs. Rethinking what we know about a family, and what we then do with that knowledge, is key to working with that family in a restorative and sustainable way.

How are we using Rethink Formulation in Leeds

The aim is to extend the Rethink Formulation model into as many varied aspects of work with children, young people and their families as possible, to create a unified practice model across Leeds. Practice will be centred within a series of regular and ongoing multi‐agency Rethink Formulation forums and other complementary approaches.

The Rethink Formulation forums provide a valuable opportunity to develop our understanding and confidence in using the model in our day-to-day practice. Networking, and connecting with other agencies at forums and hearing their perspectives, also allows participants to reflect on the way we all work with children, young people and families.

Forums are an opportunity to practice ‘Rethinking’ within a structured, reflective and restorative environment. In involves discussing a case within a multi-agency context, using Rethink Formulation to help participants understand how to use the model and how it may be applied within their own work setting. Many practitioners are attending forums; feedback shows they are finding the model and forums very useful and thought provoking.

Rethink Formulation - the 6 'P's


What triggers things

Pattern of events, one off event, ahead of the presenting issues.


Family history, challenges and vulnerabilities

Poverty, bereavement, past relationships, substance misuse.


What positives and strengths are there

Skills, supportive, network, education.

Precipitating, predisposing and protective feed into presenting issues:

Presenting issues

What is happening right now that is causing concern

Factual, objective, observable, specific, current behaviour.

Presenting issues feeds into predicting and perpetuating:


What could happen if things don't change

School exclusion, placed in care, criminalisation.


What's keeping the issues going?

This is a good opportunity to reflect on our practice.

Perpetuating also feeds back into presenting.

Key contacts and more information

There is a dedicated Rethink Team who facilitate the Formulation forums and also work in other ways to promote practitioners’ understanding and confidence in using Rethink Formulation with children, young people and their families:

If you would like to book onto one of the many Rethink Formulation Forums taking place across the city, email: for more information.

There is also a Rethink web page.

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