OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
Anne-Marie Doyle and Susan Thornton
A thorough assessment is the cornerstone of good psychological practice. It provides an initial case formulation of a client's difficulties and a rationale and guiding framework for psychological intervention. Assessment can be viewed as a process involving a number of tasks: the first is to establish rapport with the client and thereby gather relevant clinical information. The second is to identify and delineate the client's difficulties and, in the process, offer validation of the client's experiences. The third is to formulate a psychological understanding of the client's difficulties within a wider social framework, paying attention to issues such as gender and cultural background. The final task is to offer recommendations about clinical management including options for psychological therapy.
Assessment is based primarily upon clinical interview, through which information is gathered via client self-report and direct therapist observation. Referral information, pre-existing case history and scores on standardized psychological measures may all act to augment clinical interview material. Assessment generally takes between one and three sessions with the length varying according to the quality of information gathered, the complexity of the client's difficulties, and the skills of the assessor. The precise nature of an assessment will depend upon a range of factors including organizational context, training background of the assessor, available therapy resources, presenting difficulties, and client characteristics. A summary of the areas that will normally be covered during the assessment is given in Table 5.1.