Therapeutic Assessment as a developmentally helpful resource for teens

Therapeutic Assessment as a developmentally helpful resource for teens

Minnesota psychologists Michael Troy, PhD, and Julie Robinson, PhD, had their article “A Developmental Perspective on Therapeutic Assessment” published in the current issue of the online newsletter The TA Connection (update – online access to the article has been removed)  The authors, coming from a background of developmental and neurodevelopmental psychology, describe how they have found TA to be helpful for a variety of reasons, including the ability to incorporate attachment theory, developmental neurobiology, and developmental psychology into the assessment process.

This newsletter is published by the Therapeutic Assessment Institute, which promotes the Therapeutic Assessment approach to psychological assessment. To summarize very briefly, TA relies on, as the authors describe, “a thoughtful and respectful focus on the client’s subjective experience.” The TA clinician joins with the person being assessed, and together they create a collaborative assessment process using a step-by-step approach, with feedback provided at each stage of the process.

Finally, they use an interesting and creative metaphor to describe how TA is particularly well matched for assessment of adolescents ( loves creative metaphors that make us think). They compare TA to the physics concept of “quantum superposition.” They note that adolescents typically are making the transition from one psychological “state” to another, and may vacillate between states. They hypothesize that the TA process of sharing the results of the assessment, “the diagnostic formulation,” involves more than simply sharing data and ideas. It can potentially help adolescents consolodate emerging self-concept into a more developmentally advanced state/stage.

From the article:

Quantum superposition is a conceptualization of how certain subatomic particles can exist in multiple states at the same time, until they are observed, at which point they collapse into a single state. In a similar manner, the very act of observing (and describing) the complex system of the developing adolescent’s personality functioning may cause shifting diagnostic probabilities to collapse into a single, enduring reality.

 Drs Troy and Robinson also provide case examples that illustrate this concept.  In their final summary they comment on the developmental progress of TA itself, and state, “we believe that by any measure the theory and practice of TA is on a robust and resilient developmental trajectory” and “…TA is encouraging us to engage our clients from a stance of respect and humility and to foster change that is meaningful and enduring.”

This issue of the TA Connection is posted with the permission of the editor, J. D. Smith, PhD. Michael Troy, Ph.D. and Julie Robinson, Ph.D. both are on the staff of Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.  Dr. Smith invites interested readers to take a look at previous editions of The TA Connection and other info about TA at the Therapeutic Assessment Institute website.



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