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Assessment refers to the treatment process of identifying the signs and symptoms, which are associated with mental and emotional disorders. The disorders are then compared with the standardized disorders.
It should be noted that the treatment process should be based on the health condition of the patient because patients differ based on their coping abilities. The therapist develops a treatment plan after completing the process of diagnosis. The treatment plan helps in the process of alleviating the symptoms.
Some instruments are utilized in the process of diagnosis and measuring the condition of the patient, including psychometric instruments (Barraca, Yarto, & Olea, 2000).
Family therapy is a process that uses systemic and relational theories in diagnosing and treating patients, including couples, family members, and families in general.
The Purpose of Assessment
Family therapy entails identifying some of the factors that make it difficult for family members to coexist in unity and harmony. The process helps those in relationships in resolving issues that may lead to serious conflicts or divorce.
It is noted that assessment helps in identifying those problems before they escalate into serious problems. Problems are resolved so easily once they are identified as opposed to leaving them until they bring about major problems in a family unit.
The assessment process is of essence in relationships because it assists in nurturing change and development in families. Family psychoanalysis perceives family change in terms of the structures of relations among individuals.
In psychological wellbeing, the interactions among family members are considered one of the critical factors. A number of schools of thoughts exist as regards to the importance of assessment in family therapy.
However, all scholars and practitioners confirm that family members must be involved in finding the main problem affecting them. In this case, the origin of the problem does not matter, but what matters is the quality of solution and the process utilized in arriving at the solution.
Assessment is the first step towards unraveling the problem affecting an individual or a family member. In other words, assessment is the basic stage that a therapist must consider before moving in to provide any help to a troubled individual or family member (Caldwell, Woolley, & Caldwell, 2007).
Through assessment, the family therapist can influence the outcome of the conversations in a consultative meeting between the troubled individual and the therapist.
The assessment process has helped therapists understand that the family is not defined in narrower sense, but instead it should be understood in broader terms meaning that the family should be defined based on the roles and relationships of closely related individuals, which may even include friends.
The assessment process in family therapy is of great importance as far as establishing formal interventions are concerned. Each culture had its own ways through which family members could be helped get out the problem, but they techniques were ineffective because they lacked assessment.
The traditional therapies included performing some rituals with the help of the extended families. There was some development when societal leaders such as the chiefs and priests conducted family therapies. However, the problems could not be addressed amicably because there were no assessments conducted on the affected.
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The emergence of child guidance and marriage counseling introduced the idea of assessment because individuals had to be cross-examined in a laboratory setting to outline the problems affecting them.
Assessment process is very important because it gives a distinctive feature related to analytical framework meaning that it does not rely on the number of people present.
Assessment without Judging
The main role of family therapy professionals is to offer professional advice without interfering with the welfare of the families. This implies that they have to respect the rights of the clients and keep off from unnecessary judgments. For instance, they have to take caution when it comes to offering subjective verdicts.
They have to be objective in whatever they do meaning that they have to avoid using a certain form of language that may sound discriminative or judgmental.
In this regard, family and marriage psychoanalysts are warned to keep away from evaluating clients based on their races, age, cultural backgrounds, riches, physical statuses, healthiness, wellbeing, and faith.
A therapist might be tempted to conclude that a certain condition is associated with a certain ethnic group or gender. This would be wrong because it may injure the client emotional, given the fact that family therapists deal with those who are already discriminated against.
For a family and marriage therapist to offer quality services without offering his or her own insights, he or she must exercise restraint and observe professional codes of conducts.
In particular, the therapist should refer the patient to the necessary department or therapist if he or she realizes that the situation can no longer be handled in his or her officer.
This would prevent the therapist from offering defective or harmful advice to the client. If the client turns out to be stubborn or he or she is unwilling to disclose critical information needed for diagnosis, the therapist should simply terminate the conversation in a very professional manner instead of giving wrong advice.
When handling clients, the family and marriage therapist is encouraged to follow the manual instead of using his or her own knowledge to diagnose a disorder. Some professionals might be tempted to serve their own interests instead of addressing the needs of the client.
At this point, the therapist would be fulfilling his or her own interests, which amounts to subjectivity instead of striving to be objective. The therapist should always be mindful of the interests of the client if he or she is to keep off from value judgment and promote objective assessment.
Why Marriage and Family Therapists should be allowed to Diagnose
Before addressing the consequences of any disorder or disease, it must be diagnosed for proper analysis and recommendation.
Studies show that family therapy is an effective tool of addressing psychological problems such as depression, digestive disorders, chronic disorders, drug abuse, issues related to parenting, and issues that come about in relations.
Family therapy is effective as compared to other traditional therapies because it involves all family members in resolving issues affecting them. Scholars in the field of mental health appreciate the role of family therapy meaning that they also endorse family and marriage therapists to conduct diagnosis.
Some observe that there is no adequate literature in the field of family and marriage therapy, which prevents effective diagnosis. Moreover, misunderstanding the process of assessment and diagnosis among family therapists is another reason cited.
However, family and marriage therapy may not utilize the diagnosis of other practitioners to arrive at critical conclusions because it family therapy involves understanding human behavior. Human behavior is subject to change meaning that diagnosis should b conducted at the time of therapy.
Relying on diagnosis from other places may mislead the expert because the patient could have gone through many experiences since the time he or she was diagnosed to the time of therapy.
In the American society, the role played by marriage and family therapists is not yet recognized, even though there is a consensus that their presence is highly valued.
In fact, the training offered to family and marriage therapists is very high as compared to that offered to other mental therapists, including social workers and counselors. To worsen the matter, the law does not permit family and marriage therapists to charge clients meaning that they offer their services on mutual basis.
This is unacceptable because those trained in the field lack employment since the profession does not fetch any substantial funds. It is therefore recommended that marriage and family therapists should be allowed to exercise their profession just the way others are doing in the market.
They should be allowed to offer professional services, including diagnosing the problems facing individuals in marriages and families. The family is the most basic unit of social organization meaning that its failure would imply the failure of the whole society.
Philosophical Challenges in Marriage and Family Diagnosis
One of the challenges is that there is no data related to marriage and family therapy, which means that there is no existing body of knowledge as regards to the processes of diagnosis in the field.
This is a major problem among scholars because it is claimed in the philosophy that knowledge is cumulative implying that the problem must have existed for years for it to be accepted. In other words, the marriage and family therapy diagnosis does not have clear theories and methodologies.
Others claim that marriage and family therapy simply relies on subjective knowledge, which cannot be depended upon to sustain a discourse. There is no established method or technique used in treating similar problems in the family and marriage therapy.
DSM is not systematic meaning that it cannot be relied upon to offer a comprehensive solution to relational disorders. A method must be consistent for it to be considered scientific.
Family and marriage therapy methods are not systematic because they offer different results whenever they are applied to understand a similar problem. Each case is different because human behavior is highly unpredictable (Kreppner, 2005).
Human behavior is influenced by very many variables, including culture, individual orientation to the world, gender, role, place, and education. For instance, an educated sick individual could be suffering from a similar disorder as an uneducated individual.
Their behavior would not be similar, given their differences in the level of education. The methods applied in diagnosing their problems would not be the same, even though their conditions are similar.
Impacts of Diagnosis on Marriage and Family Therapist
Allowing marriage and family therapists to diagnose a disorder would be one way of empowering them since it would give them an advantage over other practitioners. They would be in a position to deal with various problems affecting those in relationships and family members.
Diagnosing a problem is critical to understanding the best technique to be applied in treatment. Relying on others for diagnosis might give wrong results because the diagnosis could have been conducted wrongly.
If marriage and family therapists diagnoses disorders, they will come up with a patterned and structured technique that would be consistent in addressing similar disorders.
Barraca, J., Yarto, L., & Olea, J. (2000). Psychometric properties of a new family life satisfaction scale. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 16(2), 98–100.
Caldwell, B., Woolley, S., & Caldwell, C. (2007). Preliminary estimates of cost-effectiveness for marital therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(3), 392–406.
Kreppner, K. (2005). Family assessment and methodological issues: Discussion. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21(4), 249–254.