CFI Online Training Module

Using the DSM-5 Cultural
Formulation Interview
Online Training Module


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The Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) is a comprehensive, yet efficient, way to engage individuals in meaningful discussions about their cultural views and experiences. This online training module gives an overview of how to use the CFI.
Why a cultural assessment in mental health?
People who belong to racial/ethnic and other cultural minorities consistently experience disparities in access to mental health care and quality services, and outcomes.
Cultural views, assumptions and biases shape interactions between providers and service users and can affect the course of mental health care and outcomes.
Individuals’ cultures and experiences have a profound impact on their understanding of their symptoms and their engagement in care.
It is part of mental health providers’ duty to care to engage all individuals in culturally relevant conversations about their past experiences and care expectations.
A cultural assessment can not only improve mutual understanding but also shift power relationships between providers and service users.
What is the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI)?
The DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) (APA, 2013) is a 16-question interview guide to help behavioral health providers better understand the way service users and their social networks (e.g., families, friends) understand what is happening to them and why, their prior experiences with care, the barriers they experience (e.g., racism, discrimination, stigma, financial stressors), and the types of supports they feel would be helpful.
To date, thousands of clinicians and other behavioral health providers around the world are utilizing the CFI to have open, empathic, and judgment-free conversations with service users about their views and experiences, with the goal of reducing disparities in mental health, improving their engagement in services, the quality of treatment and service delivery, and recovery outcomes.
What does the CFI Online Training Module offer?
The New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence and the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry (CPI) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, have partnered to develop a 50-min online training module for behavioral health providers that gives an overview of how to utilize the CFI in multiple inpatient and outpatient settings.


The module includes video-taped interviews with individuals in recovery who offered their personal stories to demonstrate the use of the CFI in multiple settings; the module also contains interactive features for active learning and tools to plan the CFI implementation in your practice, programs, or services.
In a recent evaluation of module users in New York State, a large majority positively rated it, feeling that it not only improved their understanding of how to conduct a CFI-based interview, but that it would result in practice changes (Aggarwal et al, 2018)”.