Overview of Therapeutic Assessment

What is the history of Therapeutic Assessment?

    The term “Therapeutic Assessment” was coined in 1993 by Stephen Finn to describe a semi-structured form of collaborative psychological assessment developed by him and his colleagues at the Center for Therapeutic Assessment in Austin, Texas. Finn adapted some of his methods from the work of Constance Fischer, Leonard Handler, and Caroline Purves, all pioneers in collaborative assessment. (See Resources for references to books and articles and a DVD by these individuals.) Finn’s early interest in this area is described in his book, In Our Clients’ Shoes, where he tells of an early assessment he did that was associated with powerful therapeutic change in a client. This experience led Finn to be interested in the therapeutic potential of psychological assessment. In 1984, Finn took a faculty position in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Texas at Austin, and there he began to experiment with the clinical methods of Therapeutic Assessment. This work eventually resulted in the seminal papers by him and Mary Tonsager describing and testing the efficacy of Therapeutic Assessment (1992, 1997). Finn and Tonsager (2002) have written about their incorporation of humanistic, collaborative assessment techniques into Therapeutic Assessment.