Therapeutic Assessment: Information Sheet for Referring Professionals

What is therapeutic assessment?

Therapeutic assessment is an approach developed by Stephen Finn, Constance Fischer, Leonard Handler, and others.  It uses psychological tests and a collaborative assessment method to help clients re-conceptualize their lives and move forward in their healing.  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.

How is therapeutic assessment different from traditional assessment?

In the therapeutic assessment model, psychological testing is seen as a potential intervention, as well as a method of gathering information about a client.  I involve clients and referring persons in all stages of the assessment process, as collaborators, co-observers, and co-interpreters of certain test results.  I always give verbal feedback to clients about test results, and provide a written report when it is desired.  At the end of an assessment, I solicit written feedback from clients (and/or parents) and referring professionals about their experience of the assessment.

When should I refer for a therapeutic assessment?

I welcome referrals for psychological assessment when you feel this process will be useful to you and your client.  Common times for making such a referral are:  1) at the beginning of treatment, to help in treatment planning;  2) when you or your client are puzzled about the client’s history or experience;  3) when therapy is “stuck” and you wish an outside event to help move it forward;  4) when you feel a client is planning to terminate therapy prematurely;  and 5) as part of the termination process to document change and plan for the future.  Collaborative assessment methods are often particularly better than traditional assessment procedures for clients who have strong reservations about being tested.  I never proceed with an assessment until we have a client’s cooperation.

What kinds of assessments do you do?

I accept referrals for outpatient individual assessments, including intellectual testing, learning disability evaluations, personality testing, diagnosis and treatment planning, and neuropsychological screening, with clients ages 4 and above.  If we determine that more extensive neuropsychological evaluation or educational testing is needed, I can make a referral to an allied professional.  I also perform innovative evaluations of couples and families, including the production and analysis of a consensus Rorschach protocol.  While I also do forensic evaluations, these generally are not therapeutic assessments.

What can I expect from you, the assessor?

I will address the questions that you and your client pose for the assessment, or let you know beforehand if the assessment is unlikely to provide the information you seek.  I will keep in contact with you during the assessment and discuss findings with you before they are shared with the client.  I will provide you and your client with a written report, if desired.  I will remain in contact with you and/or your client until the assessment results have been fully explored and integrated into your work.  I will be available to meet with your client months or even years after an assessment to again discuss test results.

What will you expect of me as a referring professional?

I ask that you prepare your client for the assessment by discussing the specific questions you would like answered by the assessment, and helping the client to formulate his/her own questions.  Early in the assessment, I will contact you to get background information on the client.  While the assessment is taking place, your client may need emotional support and/or help describing the experiences of the assessment.  If you notice a change in your client’s behavior in or outside therapy during an assessment, please let me know as soon as possible.  If possible, I ask that you attend the feedback session where the assessment results will be presented to the client, and I welcome your comments before the feedback session about how to best discuss the assessment findings with your client.  If I can, I will come to your office for the feedback session, as your client is likely to feel most comfortable in this setting.  After the assessment is completed, I will ask you for your feedback about my work, so that I may better serve you and other referring professionals in the future.

How much does an assessment cost?

The fees for a therapeutic assessment vary depending on the complexity of the referral questions and whether a verbal summary or written report is desired. After the initial interview with a client, I quote a fee for the entire assessment, including interviews, testing sessions, test scoring and interpretation, written reports and summary/discussion (feedback) and follow-up sessions.  I ask that your client pay half of the fee at the beginning of the assessment, and half at the completion.  Typically, I can fairly estimate my fees from talking with you about your client.

How long will it take to have my patient assessed?

There may be a wait for starting an assessment, due to the demand for these services.  Once the assessment has begun, the time involved depends on the type of case, and the kinds of questions being asked.  Once an assessment has begun, I typically provide the feedback session within 6 weeks, except in very brief or very complicated assessments.  Although I prefer to test patients over 4-6 weeks in order to allow me to see them in different contexts, I can perform assessments within short periods of time (e.g., 3-5 days) if you so desire.

How do I refer my client?

Please contact Larry Friedberg at (248) 626-4622 to discuss your particular client or if you would like more information about my approach to psychological assessment.

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