What is a Pre-treatment Assessment and Why I do it?

After our initial 90-minute appointment, and assuming there is a good fit and connection between us, the next step in my process – whether for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis – is to do a more formal assessment using objective, normed, standardized, reliable, and valid measures of:

  • Your problems in living (e.g., anxiety, depression, alcohol or substance use, etc.);
  • Your interpersonal strengths;
  • Your needs in relationships;
  • Your characteristic way of construing or understanding the interpersonal world.

Psychologists are specifically trained to develop and administer these kinds of tools, and I use the findings from them to give me perspective on the specificity, breadth, and intensity of your struggles, and to identify the personal strengths and areas of resilience you bring to the treatment project. While these instruments are not as precise as counting blood cells, they do give us a window into what it is like to be you – your subjective experience or inner narrative – which is a way to jump start the therapeutic process. Also, and this is particularly important, the resulting interpretation of findings is based on actuarial analysis. In essence, the psychologist uploads your responses to the questions on these instruments, and asks “what do we know based on empirical, peer reviewed, published research about people who respond to the items the way you did?” Thus, interpretations are driven by science, not intuition, and provide a vehicle for both asking you more questions about your current and previous lived experiences, as well as developing a treatment plan that helps you answer what I call

The Prime Directive:

Why does it make sense that I am having these sets of problems with these people in these situations in my life, and what can I do to be more effective and satisfied in these relationships.