Overview of Therapeutic Assessment

What are the core values of Therapeutic Assessment?

    Psychologists practicing Therapeutic Assessment believe and have evidence that assessments are most useful and their results are most accurate when clients are engaged as full collaborators. Clients help set the goals for their assessments, assist in collecting relevant background information, give their thoughts about the meaning of test results, and verify assessment findings by tying them to real life examples. Clients also have input into recommendations and review and comment on any written documents that result from an assessment.

    Assessors also collaborate with referring professionals and, when appropriate, with other important people in clients’ lives, such as family members, physicians and psychotherapists, teachers, judges, and employers.
    The procedures of Therapeutic Assessment are grounded in respect for our clients and the belief that assessors should treat clients as they would wish to be treated. Thus, assessors who practice Therapeutic Assessment carefully explain assessment procedures to clients, help them make informed choices about whether to participate, ask for their input as the assessment proceeds, and involve them in designing “next steps” at the end of the assessment. Clients are seen as “experts on themselves” who work together with assessors to better understand stuck points or dilemmas in their lives.

    Therapeutic Assessment is also suited to clients of different cultures, in that assessment procedures are adapted to specific cultural contexts. In addition, assessors have no fixed assumptions about the meaning of test scores, and clients are asked to help assessors understand how assessment findings relate to the clients’ particular cultural backgrounds.
    Assessors practicing Therapeutic Assessment are acutely aware that they bring their own perspectives and biases to their work with clients and that they can never fully understand another person’s inner world. They are also knowledgeable about the limitations of psychological tests, and do not see them as providing infallible “Truths” about clients. Test scores and interpretations are seen as starting points for discussions about clients’ lives and as tools for generating hypotheses that may assist clients in discovering new options.

    Assessors using Therapeutic Assessment are trained to “find their own versions” of the struggles experienced by their clients. We are reminded of the words of Harry Stack Sullivan: “Everyone is much more simply human than otherwise.” We are humbled by how often our clients’ struggles mirror our own, and we are aware that all of us are growing, struggling human beings, generally doing the best we can given our backgrounds and resources.
    In Therapeutic Assessment, assessors use their empathy and their psychological tests to “feel into” clients’ lives, and to help understand puzzles, behaviors, and patterns that are incomprehensible to others. This often results in clients’ feeling more compassion for themselves and in their receiving more acceptance and support from important others. Very often, as compassion increases and shame decreases, clients find they are able to make life changes that formerly eluded them.
Openness and Curiosity
    Assessors practicing Therapeutic Assessment aspire to conduct each assessment with openness to learning about themselves, the world, and the amazing resourcefulness of human beings to adapt to challenging circumstances. We are genuinely curious about each person who comes for an assessment, and we find that our curiosity often inspires clients to step back and see themselves and their life circumstances in new ways.

    We believe we are still developing the potential of Therapeutic Assessment. We are open and curious about what our clients will teach us about how to improve our methods and evolve our concepts.