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Therapeutic Assessment

A therapeutic assessment is a special type of psychological intervention in which a psychologist collaborates with an individual, using interviews and tests, to answer important questions in that person’s life. Because the client is respectfully treated as a collaborator in this self-exploration, it is a more “user-friendly” experience than what most people expect from an evaluation. Research has shown that it can increase self-understanding and decrease personal distress. It is a procedure developed primarily by Stephen Finn, Ph.D. of Austin, TX, Constance Fischer of Duquesne University and other leading psychologists who wanted to have their clients benefit directly from taking psychological tests.

What happens during a therapeutic assessment?
I will meet with you to help you form questions that you would like addressed. This could involve areas of your life that are puzzling or troubling to you. With your permission, I may also speak with others in your life, such as your therapist, who might provide further information to help in framing the focus of the assessment. We will then spend two or more sessions using psychological measures and discussing your experiences as we do so. I will analyze and integrate the data that have been gathered and then meet with you to discuss the results and how they relate to your questions. You may choose to have others present, such as your spouse or therapist, for this discussion. Finally, I will write you a summary in the form of a letter that reviews the findings, including our discussion.

What kinds of questions can an assessment answer?
There is a vast array of psychological tests that can measure many aspects of a person’s personality and abilities. If you are in therapy, it is helpful to discuss possible questions with your therapist. I will help you focus questions into a form that can be answered by assessment. You may be at the beginning of therapy and want help in identifying problem areas. Or, perhaps you and your therapist feel stuck and would like suggestions on how to make better progress. Some people fear that they have a particular problem, such as a serious diagnosis (“Do I have bipolar disorder? Or is it ADD?”), and would like to clarify if that is true. Others want help with repeated interpersonal problems, e.g. “Why do I seem to irritate other people?” Or an educational/career question may arise, such as “Everyone says I’m smart enough to get A’s but I don’t. Why is that?” Or “Am I capable of leading a ministry at my church? What areas do I need help in?”

How long will an assessment take?
Typically, I allow for two to four weeks. But in some cases, depending upon the urgency and our mutual availability, it can be completed within a week.

Who will have access to the results of my assessment?
Anything you share with me, including test results, is confidential. I do not divulge that you are a client or anything about you or your assessment without your written permission. Exceptions to this rule are primarily due to safety. I must inform appropriate authorities and individuals if I believe that you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or others or if you are a minor, elderly or disabled person and I believe that you are the victim of abuse or you divulge information of such abuse. Your information is protected by legal privilege; however, there may be legal proceedings, such as if a court appointed me to assess you, that may require disclosure of confidential information. I sometimes consult with professional colleagues, but would not reveal your name or other identifying information if I did so. Please feel free to ask any questions about confidentiality, as it is a vitally important issue for our work together.

How much does an assessment cost?
Fees vary according to the complexity of the questions to be explored and the time needed to explore them. I can often give an estimated range of costs during our initial phone contact. At the end of your first appointment, I will quote you a fee for the entire assessment. I usually require a payment of $200 at the first appointment and the full balance at the final session. I am flexible about making individual payment schedules and firm about keeping them.

What if I feel uncomfortable during the assessment?
Most people find that they enjoy the assessment experience more than they expected. But if you do become uncomfortable or have a strong emotional response, please tell me as soon as possible. I will support you in your experience and help you to explore and understand it. Most of the work that I do is as a therapist. I will respect your personal boundaries and keep our sessions safe to the best of my ability. I prefer to speak in plain English than to use professional jargon. If you would rather not receive direct feedback from me, but instead prefer me to speak only to your therapist, I would respect such instructions. My first responsibility is to proceed in your best interests. Again, I am open at any time to discuss questions that you may have.

Revised 9/09