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Why Assessment Skills are Important

Assessment skills are important because substance abuse counselors should be able to understand the basics of current diagnostic assessment tools and instruments. A competent LCDC should be capable of writing appropriate and professional descriptions of behaviors in regards to addictions. In order to gather relevant information about the client’s substance abuse history, counselors need to practice effective interviewing techniques; the interviews should include the client and other sources of information about the client, such as family members, friends, and coworkers.

A substance abuse counselor should be able to use these skills and explain to the client why and how the assessment takes place. In doing so, the client would have a better understanding of his/her own treatment process.
One of the most important things to remember about a client’s assessment is confidentiality. The assessment is the first opportunity for both the client and the counselor to interact with each other, therefore, confidentiality and professional work ethics should begin here.

Screening and assessment are two different tools. Screening is a process by which we can identify a potential problem with the client’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. This tool allows us to determine whether a client is eligible for a particular treatment program.

Assessment is a tool used to confirm the existence of a problem. This allows counselors to identify the nature of the problem and therefore suggest options for treatment. During the assessment process we can identify the client’s strengths and weaknesses, and his/her needs in order to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Assessment instruments must be reliable and valid. Reliability means that consistent results are obtained under consistent conditions. Reliable assessment instrument provide consistent results when the assessment is repeated under consistent conditions.
Validity is the degree to which a test really measures what we want to measure, and not something else.

Nota bene: Reliability does not imply validity.

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