Therapeutic assessment is an innovative approach to psychological evaluation, which relies on collaboration between the assessor and client, as they work to help clients re-conceptualize their lives and move forward in their healing. Therapeutic assessment was developed by Stephen Finn (2007), Constance Fischer (1994) and others.
In the therapeutic assessment model, psychological testing is seen as more than just the collection of useful data. The goal is to make the assessment experience a positive and useful one for the client, and to help create positive changes in the client's life, in addition to gathering information that will be useful to the client and treatment providers. Therapeutic assessments are conducted so as to increase the probability of positive therapeutic shifts occurring.
In traditional assessment, psychological tests are used primarily for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment-planning, and treatment evaluation. In traditional assessment the main emphasis is typically on the collection of standardized data by an "expert" assessor, who then compares this data to norms and statistics to derive conclusions which he conveys to the patient or to a treatment provider.
The intent of therapeutic assessment is to create positive change. Clients and referring persons are engaged as collaborators, co-observers, and co-interpreters of test results. The client is engaged in framing the reasons for the assessment (the questions to be asked via the assessment), observing test responses and behaviors, discovering the significance of those responses and behaviors, and coming up with useful recommendations at the end of the assessment.
Therapeutic assessment can lead to positive psychological change for many clients:
Research has demonstrated that after a therapeutic assessment, many clients exhibit less distress and have higher self-esteem. In addition, valid and useful test data are collected, which may be used for diagnosis, treatment planning, or documentation of change after treatment. Documented benefits to clients from research on therapeutic assessment include:
- Decreased symptomatology in adults, children, adolescents, and couples (e.g., Jobes et. al., 2005; Tharinger et. al., 2009; Newman, 2004; Poston & Hanson, 2010)
- Increased self-esteem (e.g., Finn and Tonsanger, 1992)
- Increased hope (e.g., Finn and Tonsanger, 1992)
- Better compliance with treatment recommendations (e.g., Ackerman et. al., 2000; Ougrin, Ng & Low, 2008)
- Better treatment alliance with a subsequent psychotherapist (e.g. Hilsenroth, Peters, & Ackerman, 2004)
Research has demonstrated that the following features of therapeutic assessment lead to increased client satisfaction and therapeutic change:
- Giving feedback to clients
- Collaborative assessment techniques
- Informed consent
- Specifying the client's goals for the assessment
- Interactive rather than "delivered" feedback
- Clients feeling respected by the assessor
- Giving written as well as oral feedback to the client
INFORMATION SHEETS regarding therapeutic assessment (You can review, print, or email these information sheets)
MORE INFORMATION- From the Center For Therapeutic Assessment:
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