Clinical Psychology question: Regarding strength-based assessments for mental health issues, which of the following is LEAST accurate? A) Strength-based assessment is to demonstrate interest in the client. B) Strength-based assessment is to lessen client defensiveness. C) Strength-based assessment is to lay the groundwork for intervention. D) Strength based assessment is for empowering the client for change. E) Strength based assessment is to establish the foundations for difficult counseling sessions

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Well, first of all, what is strength-based assessment? It's a relatively new approach to clinical psychology, particularly focused on applications in special education for children with mental or behavioral disorders.The usual way of doing things could be called "weakness-based assessment"; we generally tend to focus on what's wrong, how...

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Well, first of all, what is strength-based assessment? It's a relatively new approach to clinical psychology, particularly focused on applications in special education for children with mental or behavioral disorders.

The usual way of doing things could be called "weakness-based assessment"; we generally tend to focus on what's wrong, how the child is behind developmentally or educationally, the ways in which the child's behavior is harmful. We always accentuate the negative aspects. This is intended to help us fix those negative aspects---but sometimes it has a counterproductive effect, making children feel discouraged or even hopeless. That's not good for anybody, least of all the kids.

Enter strength-based assessment, where instead we focus on what's right, what the child is good at, how they have improved. This is counter-intuitive for many psychologists, because they are so accustomed to being diagnosticians, trying to find problems and fix them; but with training, psychologists can learn to do it, and it can be highly effective at improving outcomes.

This helps make the child and their parents feel like they have power over their situation, and get them committed to involvement in the treatment---which is vital for long-term success. (This rules out option D; empowering clients is one of the primary purposes of strength-based assessment.)

Strength-based assessment can also reduce defensiveness, because instead of this psychologist coming into your life and telling you what's wrong with you and how you need to change, they open by telling you what you're doing right and how strong you are for making it this far despite your challenges. This can make clients who were otherwise resistant to seek treatment more open to doing so. (That rules out option B.)

Strengths-based assessment is also a very good way of showing interest in the client, because it addresses them as a whole person instead of simply as a list of symptoms to be corrected. It encourages the psychologist to listen to what the client has to say and build a more collaborative relationship with them. (So option A is probably not the answer.)

Strengths-based assessment may not seem like it can be used to support interventions, but it can, simply in a somewhat different way. Instead of focusing on what is wrong and needs to be fixed, strengths-based assessment focuses on what resources (such as personal skills or family support) the client has to improve their own quality of life. (So option C is probably not the least accurate.)

That leaves answer E. While strength-based assessment can be used on clients with severe disorders for whom counseling is particularly difficult, that's not its primary function. In general, strengths-based assessment is actually more effective with clients who have moderate disorders and can use their other strengths to compensate for deficits, rather than those with severe disorders who need intensive therapy or medication simply to restore basic functioning. So the least accurate answer is E.


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