While screening is used to determine whether a client is eligible for admission into a particular program, assessment is an ongoing process to evaluate the treatment plan the client’s progress in treatment.

There are different assessment tools and we must select the one that is more appropriate, based on age, gender, racial and ethnic background, and disabilities.

Assessment tools include:

  • History of alcohol and drug use
  • Physical and mental health
  • Addiction treatment histories
  • Family issues
  • Work issues
  • History of criminality
  • Psychological and emotional issues
  • Current physical and mental health, and substance use/abuse issues
  • Education and basic life skills
  • Socioeconomic situation and lifestyle
  • Current legal status
  • Use of community resources
  • Level of readiness for treatment
  • Level of cognitive and behavioral functioning

When selecting and administering assessment instruments, we need to know which are the current validated instruments and protocols (remember validity and reliability); we also need to take into consideration the limitations of both the assessment instruments and the counselor’s training and education. Our responsibility is to use these instruments appropriately, so we must recognized when we need assistance from a supervisor (remember: consultation with other professionals).

Extra training, and therefore commitment, is required in order to learn how to analyze and interpret assessment results. In order to determine treatment recommendations, treatment plan modifications, and whether somethings are working better that others, we must be knowledgeable about:

  • Scoring methods for assessment instruments
  • How to analyze and interpret results
  • Available treatment options

Remember that we want that our client participates actively in the treatment process, so we must introduce and explain the purpose of ongoing evaluations.

Finally, we need to keep in mind our agency’s protocols and procedures; appropriate terminology and abbreviations (avoid jargon!); legal implications of actions and documentation; and how to maintain client’s confidentiality (always important in everything we do).

TAP 21

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