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Historical and Contextual Concerns in Psychology Essay


Psychological assessment entails a systematic way of evaluating the behavioral patterns of a person through various methods ranging from simple observation to complex scientific techniques of understanding behavior. In assessments and the entire process of therapy, historical and contextual considerations impact the outcomes and plan. In many cases, these considerations have been ignored due to various reasons. Eventually, they affect the clinical judgment of a particular client. Therefore, it is important to understand the following historical and contextual considerations.

The Physical Environment

It focuses on the characteristics and conditions surrounding a client. An inappropriate environment may affect the responsiveness of the client and hence the clinical judgment.

Cultural Beliefs and Values

These include the specific and unique set of principles that people believe in and which guide their wellbeing. The client’s culture may determine the assessment and the mode of administration.

Emotional Climate

The mood, attitude, and conditions in place alter the emotional climate in a therapeutic process. It could be related to the current psychological wellbeing of the client and the problems that can lead to emotional instability. This factor allows the psychologist to know the right time for an intervention.

Family Background

Understanding a client’s family background is crucial to therapy. It includes the state of the family members and their relationship with the client. Family history helps in the formulation of therapy goals.

The Ethical Concerns Related to the Assessment Process of the Clients Listed

Ethics is a set of regulations that guide the work of a psychologist. According to the American Psychological Association (2010), the responsibility of a psychologist should be in line with the legal requirements, which are meant to protect the client and ensure the therapist works professionally.


Competence refers to the personal and professional proficiency of the psychologist in performing assessments. A psychologist is competent if their work is not hampered by personal problems. It is ethical for the psychologist to be well-informed about a particular method of assessment before carrying it out. Therefore, they should have complete training from an accredited institution as well as relevant experience. Where they feel inadequate to handle an assessment, a referral should be made to the right professional.

Informed Consent

Carrying out assessments ethically involves obtaining informed consent from the client by informing them of the purpose and nature of assessment, the procedure of administration, and its benefit to the client. Confidentiality should be assured, and the limits of breaching the confidentiality clearly stated. The cost of therapy should be agreed upon beforehand. In the case of third party involvement, the client should be informed.

Security of Test Materials

Therapy records should be kept confidential as per the terms of confidentiality. Psychologists must ensure that documentation is available for referrals or further use.

Human Relations

In the professional association between the client and the therapist, there should be fair human interaction with no favoritism in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, educational background, and tribe among others. However, the client should be treated with respect and care to ensure their well-being. It is unethical for a psychologist to harass a client sexually though sexual advances, verbal or non-verbal actions that are sexual during the assessment. Other forms of harassment include intimidation of the client concerning the above-mentioned factors. The psychologist should protect the client and ensure no harm results from the assessment.


Feedback entails the release of the assessment data and results (client responses and possible diagnoses). Clients are entitled to see these results. However, they should be kept safely by the psychologist to prevent unauthorized access without the client’s consent.

The Specifics of the Initial Interview of One of the Clients

Client 2: 41years old divorced female with no children and has a high school education.

Interview Details

When does the client feel she can’t relax? This question helps the psychologist to understand the specific conditions under which the client is stressed and unable to relax. The question is likely to probe into the depths of the stimuli or the trigger of the client’s feelings and thoughts.

How often does this behavior occur? The frequency of behavior will tell the severity of the client problem and the course of action required to help the client appropriately. The frequency of a maladaptive behavior shows the dire need for an intervention and is indicative of a psychological condition.

What do you do when you feel you can’t relax? It is important to understand if the client has the relevant resources to help her cope with the condition. Is the resource within her reach or not and can she afford the appropriate resource?

What are the consequences of the behavior? This question helps the psychologist understand the positive and negative outcomes of the behavior.

The causal factors for inability to relax and being stressed is also an important question, which can help uncover the source of the problem. Every behavior is a consequence of a particular stimulus, and understanding it is the first step to a long-term solution. It requires reflection into the subconscious and allowing the unconscious mind to bring the causal factors to awareness (Eells, 2011).

The core beliefs and values of the client should be understood. These are the major belief system held by a client and the values that affect their response to life and the challenges they face.

The presence of social influence from the environment or any positive or negative reinforcement can contribute to the frequency of the behavior. Social influence can be a reinforcement of behavior.

The capacity for awareness of the client should be understood. This capacity is the degree to which the client understands who they are. According to existentialists, the greater the capacity of self-awareness, the greater the potential of living fully.

What is the historical background of the client? Probing into the history of the presenting issue is important. The possibility of the past experiences being influential in what individuals tackle in the present is so high that a psychologist should understand the need to bring the past into awareness to help the client understand the source of the problem.

Outline of the Assessment Plan for Client 1 of the School Psychologist

Client: 7-year-old second-grader from an intact family that recently moved into the school district.

The assessment plan for the client above will include the following steps:

Analyzing the Case

This step entails investigating the client’s major complaints to understand the underlying needs. In the case of conceptualization, the psychologist will formulate testable hypotheses to be used in the assessment of the client. It may also involve collecting relevant information concerning the assessment and the client. Client 1 has learning and social difficulties with peers. The two concerns that should be analyzed to ensure the test is administered will eventually solve the problem or indicate the right diagnosis. The psychologist, at this stage, clarifies the purpose, goals, and outcomes of the assessment. According to Haynes and Haynes (1999), the whole process of assessment is dynamic and needs to be understood well by the therapist.


The information gathered in the first step above is integrated and organized to bring meaning. The results should answer the questions that are intended to help the client and spearhead the whole process. The school psychologist should be able to get any relevant information that exists either in the school office or from the client’s parents (Haudlin & Yeh, 2011). The usage and access to the assessment data are also important elements of the assessment plan.

Planning the Intervention

This step involves designing viable assessment plans. The psychologist decides on the specific assessment tests to be used, which is done after the validity and the reliability of the test instruments have been approved and their standardization confirmed. The psychologist is responsible for the assessment. The methods to be used in generating any additional information should be determined by the psychologist. Interviews, standardized tests, surveys are some of the methods that can be used. The method of use could either be a direct measure that relies on the individual demonstrating their knowledge, skill, and behavior or an indirect measure that relies on the perception of a specific goal being achieved or not.


This is the plan of the actual administration of a test. The psychologist should be competent enough and well-informed of the assessment instrument before the actual administration. The administration method should be prepared, and any limitations are evaluated.

Planning for the Communication of the Results

This is the last but very important step in assessment planning, which ensures that the psychologist plan on the access and dissemination of the outcomes of the assessment. The client has the right to determine who views the outcomes. However, since client 1 is a child, the parents will provide informed consent and any relevant information regarding the results of the assessment.

Specific Assessments Appropriate for the Client

Client 1 can be tested on various aspects including intelligence, achievement, and social adaptability. The intelligence tests determine the intellectual potential of a child hence giving further information on what other tests should be administered. Achievement tests show what a child knows his capabilities. Assessment plans are developed to help the school monitor students’ development and detect learning difficulties (Maki, 2002).

Stanford-Binet intelligence scale V is an intelligence test that examines five areas of an individual namely liquid reasoning, working memory, knowledge, visual-spatial processing, and quantitative reasoning. It can be administered to people from the ages of 2 to 85 years. This test was designed to identify a child’s need for special attention to the appropriate course of action.

Wechsler intelligence scale for children (WISC-V) is an intelligence test that focuses on the working memory, comprehension, nonverbal or liquid reasoning, and the processing speed of a child (Maruish, 2011). It is administered to children between the ages of 6 and 17. It is divided into 15 sections that show the intelligence of a child about the aspects above.

A personality test is crucial in determining the enduring characteristics of a child. Personality traits may narrow down to sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatic, or choleric types of personality. These traits determine people’s behaviors and their consistencies. In a school setting, a school psychologist should understand the personality type of the client for ease of assessment and appropriate therapy.


Psychological intervention in a school or private practice is a critical process that needs to be handled professionally. Professional conduct is not only beneficial to the client but also to the psychologist as it enhances personal and professional development. Following the stipulated guidelines to the letter guarantees progress and healthy professional relationships.


American Psychological Association. (2010). . Web.

Eells, T. D. (2011). Handbook of psychotherapy case formulation (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Haudlin, L. K. C. & Yeh, C. (2011). Handbook of school counseling. New York: Routledge Publishers.

Haynes, S. & Haynes, W. (1999). Principles and practice of behavior assessments. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Maki, P. L. (2002). Developing an assessment plan to learn about student learning. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 28(1), 8-13.

Maruish, M. E. (2011). The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment (3rd Ed.). London: Taylor & Francis.

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