Therapeutic Assessment

By: Joan Dayger BEHN, PhD, Clinical Psychologist


Therapeutic assessment (TA) is an innovative way to utilize psychological tests within a collaborative relationship to help individuals, or couples, to change their lives. Individuals facing life decisions are often in a quandary about the right course for them. People often feel stuck in old patterns of behavior and do not feel they have sufficient self-awareness to change. Or they may wonder why they seem unable to implement change. Therapeutic assessment can be an effective way to clarify the situation by combining the relative sureness of objectively-based information with the opportunity to process the gained information with a psychologist trained to give feedback.

Therapeutic Assessment utilizes aspects of psychological evaluation and therapy. The assessment aspect includes the use of standard well-researched tests that provide some "objective" data. Even in a relatively brief time period, feedback for the client can be broader and deeper than ordinarily possible from simple time-limited self-report. The therapeutic experience is provided by making the client an active participant in the process, keeping the well-being of the client in the foreground, and allowing "answers" to develop collaboratively between psychologist and client. This combination can be a powerful intervention that respects the individual and places decisions in the hands of the consumer. Unlike traditional evaluations, the client is asked to formulate the questions he/she wants answered and, with the help of the psychologist, participate in making the findings specific to his/her own life.

Some individuals who have benefited from Therapeutic Assessment include those who feel puzzled about themselves and want some way to move forward. This may include individuals wondering about their role in interpersonal relationships, work situations and other life decisions. Gaining a new understanding of themselves, becoming more aware of how others view them, and changing the way they think about themselves and their problems are all frequent outcomes of Therapeutic Assessment. People find the information, the opportunity to reflect on themselves, and the relationship with the psychologist sufficient for continued introspection and change on their own. Others decide to begin psychotherapy, motivated by new insights. Still others may already be in ongoing therapy and want to document change and plan for the future. Therapeutic Assessment can also be of assistance to the client/therapist pair when a therapy becomes "stuck". In the later case, the questions may be jointly formed and feedback is given to both therapist and client together.


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