Successful therapy starts with a thorough assessment...
The first step towards effective treatment is a thorough psychological assessment. A psychological assessment usually involves spending some time talking about your current problems, what has brought you to therapy, and what you would like to change. Your therapist might also ask you to complete some questionnaires (these are called Psychometrics) as part of your assessment, which can aid information gathering, can help assess the severity of difficulties and can also be used to measure clinical improvements. Assessments are conducted by all our clinicians prior to agreeing any intervention.
In addition to more standard assessments, Clinical Psychologists are able to carry out neuro-psychological assessments which may form part of a more comprehensive or extensive assessment should this be needed (e.g. to assess the impact of a head injury). Neuro-psychological assessments consist of formal cognitive tests which can provide detailed information about a person's memory, concentration, executive functioning skills and general intellectual ability. Cognitive testing and psychometrics should only be administered by clinicians who have received appropriate training in scientific research methods and the specifics tests which are administered, so that they can properly interpret the results; all Clinical Psychologists are trained in research methods and will have gained sufficient experience in administering any tests they chose to draw upon.
Although Clinical Psychologists do not tend to work by using or applying diagnostic labels, they are trained in diagnosing mental health problems. Clarifying diagnoses can sometimes form a helpful part of the assessment process, especially because some psychological therapies are only recommended for particular mental health diagnoses.
Clinical Psychologists use the information gathered from an assessment to put together an initial psychological formulation. A psychological formulation aims to summarise what the main difficulties are, tries to understand what has contributed to the development and maintenance of those problems, and identify possible areas for intervention. In developing a psychological formulation Clinical Psychologists also draw on the latest developments in psychological research about what works for whom. Developing a formulation is a collaborative, ongoing process between you and your therapist, and is an intervention in its own right. The use of written and diagrammatic formulations is one of the things that can distinguish Clinical Psychologists from other mental health professionals and therapists. Many clients find having a psychological formulation incredibly helpful, as it promotes a richer understanding of a person's difficulties than diagnosis alone.
At NETS we are also able to provide comprehensive autism assessments for adults and children. These assessments typically include taking a full developmental history, observational assessment and carrying out a cognitive assessment. We also use the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule (ADOS), a tool which is considered the 'gold standard’ in assessing autistic spectrum conditions.