Accelerate and Deepen Your Healing Through Therapeutic Assessment (TA)

By Mary Rizzo, Psy.D.

When beginning therapy, many questions or uncertainties may arise. Clients may experience feeling stuck in old patterns of behaviors, have decreased awareness of their main concerns, or confusion regarding why they feel the way they do.  Many times we may not know why we feel the way that we do. However, we do know that we want to feel better or have something change.

Within the past 20 years, research has supported a pioneering new way to utilize psychological assessments in a collaborative manner to benefit the overall progress of therapy. Specifically, Therapeutic Assessment (TA) incorporates components of psychological assessments and therapy to gain a better understanding of one’s authentic self and implement therapeutic change for a more meaningful life.

The psychological assessment component includes the use of standardized evidence-based tests that provide objective data (Dayger, 2019). Assessments that may be conducted include cognitive, social/emotional, or personality measures to provide additional insight into several facets of the client’s identity. As the client completes various assessments, the therapist works with the client to provide feedback and insights to deepen and broaden one’s understanding of themselves. Thus, the client(s) becomes an “active participant” in the process of unveiling parts of themselves and work collaboratively with the therapist to identify the concerns they need or desire to address. Overall, a client(s) is able to recognize and gain new “findings specific to their own life” (Dayger, 2019).

TA is very beneficial therapeutic intervention and can be utilized in a variety of circumstances. The therapist and client create goals or questions they hope to answer by completing the assessments. For example, clients may feel puzzled about who they are and need further insight within their social relationships, work demands, and/or family obligations. TA helps to transform the narrative clients have established about themselves, children, or spouses by applying objective data and therapeutic insights. 

Due to the collaborative and flexible structure of TA it can be utilized within individual, family, and couples’ therapy. TA may involve the entire family system to create an opportunity of growth and therapeutic change as a unit. For instance, parents/caretakers would contribute in each step in the assessment process and are involved in sessions during or after each assessment (Dayger, 2019). This provides parents with the opportunity to gain insight and awareness in what their child needs. TA also assists families in overcoming possible barriers, limitations, and pain that may influence the child’s progress. 

Research has also supported TA for couples therapy. Specifically, TA would first assess the partners separately to obtain a true understanding of their underlying forces that affect the relationship (Dayger, 2019). By considering each other’s past, the therapist is able to encourage the couple to develop a more accurate representation of their partner instead of projecting past events onto one another that has caused pain or fear (Dayger, 2019). Overall, TA may be beneficial across a wide-range of situations and assist an individual, family, or couple in achieving their treatment goals and implement change.