Topic 4: Communicating Assessment Results {by 6/8}

Based on the text readings and lecture recording due this week consider the following two discussion points: (1) For communicating results to clients (or parents), provide a couple points that stuck out to as very relevant (explain why).  (2) Why is it so important in “what” and “how” you communicate mental health assessment results to clients?

 

Your original post should be posted by 6/8.  Post your two replies no later than 6/10.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Madi
    Jun 01, 2020 @ 10:43:47

    1. Point that stuck out as truly relevant when communicating results to clients and or parents were that you should use probabilities and not certainties, which also connects to using tentative interpretations. I found this particularly important because it would be easy to tell a test score and claim that it definitely says something specific about the client. The concept of talking in probability and using tentative interpretations would be more helpful for the client is extremely important. In regard to communicating results to parents, the one that jumped out at me as something I found incredibly important, and as something I would probably struggle with, is to acknowledge parent’s emotions. For if a parent was being demeaning or dismissive, I personally would have to check myself and not to aggressively defend the child. In a way the parents of the client are just as much your client because the same methods used with the client such as validating are also used with the parents.

    2. There are two components to communicating test results which is the “what”, the result, and the “how.” The way the results are communicated is just as important as the results themselves. For if results are communicated poorly, they can be defeating for the client. For if a client took a depression test and the counselor said, “you scored x so therefore you have depression.” The client could feel defeated and even more hopeless than they did before. But if the counselor provided the score, explained what it meant, and possibly provided a range. The client then would feel as though they could ask questions and it would be more of a conversation.

    Reply

    • Christopher LePage
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 17:28:46

      Hi Madi! I agree, biting your tongue so to speak with parents is definitely a problem that I am sure that I’ll come across as well. Demeaning parents can ruin all the progress you have made with your client, and could even cause you to have to rework your plan. If you have parents who are dismissive of their child’s issues it can almost feel as if they are dismissive of you and your as well so it can feel personal too. Your final point does a real good job at summarizing it up by saying “. . . the parents of the client are just as much your client”, because sometimes you have to accommodate just as much (if not more) for them than you do the patient.

      Reply

    • Haley Scola
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 16:51:19

      Madi,
      I totally agree with your point on parents and acknowledging their emotions even if I didn’t agree. I think as a helper our natural inclination is to protect our client, even if that means from their own parents. I, too, think I’ll need to practice the patience it takes to sit and validate their feelings towards this even if I disagree. My response was also similar to yours in relation to the importance of “what” and “how” one communicates results to a client. Telling a client “yeah so you’re depressed because the test said you are” can make the client feel defeated before the battle even truly starts. Knowing your tone of voice and the way in which you word the results are two points that are vital to the therapeutic relationship.

      Reply

  2. Francesca DePergola
    Jun 04, 2020 @ 21:21:17

    Based on the text readings and lecture recording for communicating results to clients and or with parents I thought a couple of points stuck out to me. The first being strictly working with the client and giving them full and open answers while interpreting their results. If you have discovered your client might have anxiety, it might be hard not only for the client to hear this but also for the counselor to reveal this to them. Most likely, as it was stated, it might not come as a surprise, but I can imagine it is not the greatest feeling to be given confirmation of, for example, generalized anxiety disorder. Some might feel it as a relief, which I can understand too, but the openness stuck out to me the most and seemed very relevant as it is crucial for the therapeutic relationship and assists in growing rapport. Regarding communicating results to clients and their parents, I found it interesting to mention the focus on the client’s abilities, not just their disabilities. I think it is hard being in the presence of some parents who cannot identify their child’s strengths, as Dr. V stated. As much as we would love to believe our clients are in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment at home, that might not be true. So, to mention that was eye-opening because I want to believe that most parents are able to do this but to make sure that they can be is significant and something that I did not think about right away.
    It is so important in the “what” and “how” a counselor communicates mental health assessment results to clients because it can be a powerfully negative or positive experience. As I stated above, it is not always relieving news to hear you have been categorized as fitting under a criterion for a disorder. If a counselor were to communicate a mental health assessment result to a client with severe depression and in a tone of it being absolute instead of tentative, it could be a very dangerous situation. This person might even feel more isolated, alone, and “stuck” because of the tone or words that they used. Another example could be someone who has come to therapy to identify issues they have experienced and be looking forward to a diagnosis. Although we might think it is great to say this client does not fall under the criteria for anxiety, it might be disheartening for them and they might feel worse. That is why it is important to understand the client and which ways to effectively communicate these results to them.

    Reply

    • Yen Pham
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 11:06:46

      Hi Francesca,

      I regard your points on the question two, I agree with you that it is so important in the “what” and “how” a counselor communicates mental health assessment results to clients because it can be a powerfully negative or positive experience. You provide some example that is so useful to support your points. Indeed, it is very important to explain the results to clients which can give them a hopefulness to continue their treatment or in opposite can give them a hopelessness to refuse their treatment. As a counselor, I believe, we have an upright duty, responsibility and conscience to tell the truth about the clients’ condition, but “how” and “what” to interpret it in certain circumstances is a matter.

      Reply

    • Brigitte Manseau
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 21:52:39

      Hi Francesca,
      One of the points that popped out at me too was giving clients honest and open answers when interpreting their results. I believe being open from the start helps build rapport between you and the client. I like how you mentioned that the results of an assessment may not be a surprise to clients but, it can still significantly impact them. If a client is holding on to some hope that he or she may not be anxious and gets the confirmation that he or she is, it can be crushing. It is super important to pay attention to how the client reacts when communicating results. Also, I liked how you tied together prompt 1 to prompt 2. It shows you know the importance of how results can affect clients. As future counselors, we must know how our demeanor and our communication style impacts clients.

      Reply

  3. Selene Anaya
    Jun 05, 2020 @ 15:19:17

    1. Given that my specialization in the program will be the Child and Family therapy track, the way I will communicate results to clients and their parents will be especially important. One of the points that really stuck out was understanding the parents view if and when they receive a diagnosis for their child. It was mentioned in the lecture, but diagnosis can go one of two ways. The parents can either be relieved and accepting of the diagnosis, or they can be completely in denial and possibly even scared about a variety of factors that go along with it such as what this could mean for their child’s future and the stigmas surrounding the label. I think another super important point that was brought up was the importance of focusing on the child’s abilities, not disabilities. As professionals who will diagnose, I think if we are the ones who focus on a child’s abilities and take on a positive approach, everyone else will do the same. They are listening to us for information regarding their child, and if we use this positive language and we can model the way we speak about and it can positively affect the way they think about the diagnosis, their child, and even help in many other ways beyond just in the clinic. A lot of the points that were mentioned really stuck out, but I’ll just explain one more. I think both acknowledging and monitoring parent’s emotions can be especially important for the way the child also processes his/her emotions or views his/her diagnosis if they are old enough to do so. Not only that, but when working with children, we are working with their parents. Giving them sufficient information and providing them support in understanding their child’s diagnosis can help them process their emotions and affect the way those emotions or thoughts are expressed at home and outside of the clinic.

    2. In general, the way results for anything are presented can have a strong impact on the way we feel about them. “What” is communicated is important because some clients may or may not understand the results the way we do. Giving our clients a more tentative interpretation rather than an absolute interpretation can possibly foster a growth mindset in some clients. They can be more willing to improve whereas if we give them a more absolute interpretation of results, it fails to recognize the possibility for improvement. “How” we communicate mental health assessments to clients is even more important or at least goes hand-in-hand with what we communicate. As mentioned in lecture, it is important to explain and give more than just the results. Explaining why the assessment was used, why and how it can be helpful for both you and the client (such as informing us of next steps and what to address), and also explicitly asking the client how the results make them feel can play an important part in easing any anxiety or acknowledging any questions or concerns the client may have about the assessment used. Obviously, matching the client and providing information based on what you know each particular client will respond well to is important. This means using language the client understands and if needed, providing visuals to parents/older children to help them understand and give a comparison to other data (depending on what it is). How we communicate to clients can either close off the client (if done poorly) or foster motivation to improve accept their diagnosis (if done well). It goes beyond just results alone. The way we communicate these results impacts how we make clients feel about their diagnosis and can ease any tension or uncertainty surrounding it.

    Reply

    • Francesca DePergola
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 13:21:45

      Hey Selene,
      I agree with you completely about question one as I had mentioned some of those points as well. I did like how you talked about the importance of monitoring the parent’s emotions throughout the diagnosis process because it can be very challenging for them as well. Depending on what the home life is like for the child, it might be crucial to make sure the parents are being monitored.

      I also agree with what you have said in answer two. I also like the examples you have used because like Dr. V has mentioned, even the media can misinterpret statistics and things of that nature and in our field, we need to make sure we are being extra careful not only in the what and how, but also to have a complete understanding of the assessments.

      Reply

    • Casey Cosky
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 22:18:58

      Hey Selene! I really appreciate the way you highlighted the important aspects of working with a child. A professional really does have to be prepared for either way the parent could react. Focusing primarily on a child’s disabilities is almost guaranteed to make a parent defensive and less optimistic about working with you. When a parent becomes reluctant to work with you, then you won’t be able to provide their child with adequate care. At the same time, it’s really important to find a balance because you don’t want to downplay the results too much and make the results seem like they shouldn’t be taken seriously. Like you said, the way we speak about it can definitely affect how they think about it.

      Reply

  4. Dawn Seiple
    Jun 06, 2020 @ 15:59:16

    1. For communicating results to clients (or parents), provide a couple of points that stuck out to you as very relevant (explain why).

    I was struck by how complex the process of communicating results to clients can be. It is far more nuanced than just understanding the assessments and being able to generally communicate what was learned. There were a few points I found particularly relevant and helpful. The first was the idea of personalizing the communication message to each individual patient. It was helpful to think about choosing the language, tone and approach to match the patient and their style and personality. While this seems obvious in many ways, I don’t believe all practitioners make these adjustments. Second, I liked the recommendation of including the client in the results discussion by encouraging their questions and thoughts and, ultimately getting their feedback on the experience. This collaborative approach sounds so much more effective than a top-down one. By eliciting feedback from the client, practitioners can continue to refine and approve their communications. Finally, where I am interested in working with children and adolescents, I found the topic of communicating with parents helpful. I especially liked the point of emphasizing the child’s strengths rather than focusing on the negative aspects of the results.

    2. Why is it so important in “what” and “how” you communicate mental health assessment results to clients?

    “What” and “how” results are communicated completely shapes the trajectory of the counselor-client relationship. It is so important that the counselor communicate in a way that makes the patient (and their parents if applicable) feel understood and hopeful. If the patient feels talked down to or hears the results in a discouraging way, they may give up on the process altogether. The counselor needs to consider the client’s potential automatic negative thoughts when structuring the communication.

    Reply

    • Yen Pham
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 10:40:57

      Hi Dawn,

      I like your points on the question one. I agree with you that the recommendation of including the client in the results discussion by encouraging their questions and thoughts are important because ultimately counselors will get their feedback on the experience which later on, I think will help counselors provide the best treatment for clients. On the other hands, in my opinion, I think that communicating results to client is often one of the most important aspects of the assessment process. If this information is not communicated effectively, clients or others may misperceive the assessment results thus, the interpretation of assessment results requires specialized knowledge and competencies. Therefore, a counselor needs to be knowledgeable about the information contained in the manual. I found this point is important because the knowledge about the instrument helps the counselors are able to interpret the results to clients more appropriate in any context; in turn this knowledge also helps the counselors provide clients the best treatments

      Reply

    • Francesca DePergola
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 13:27:44

      Hi Dawn,

      I too was struck with how complicated the communication process is. A lot of these things seem obvious, but it is fascinating how critical these skills are. They can be so easily overlooked and pushed aside, but once you ponder their importance you begin to realize that they are pivotal for the client and their experience in receiving the results. I also want to work with adolescents and I know that during those years parent-child relationships can vary dramatically, so as you have said communicating with parents in a productive manner will be significant as well.

      Reply

    • Althea Hermitt McPherson
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 00:16:59

      Hi Dawn I also had that same reaction when I read chapter 5 as I also realize that understanding the assessment is the tip of the iceberg and communicating the result is the most important piece of the puzzle because that can be the difference between a client remaining in treatment or deciding to not do treatment. I totally agree that most counselors don’t make the necessary adjustments when communicating results to their clients. The urgency of building rapport was also something I thought about as most clients don’t come back after the assessment or only come back for a few sessions. Given the importance of communicating results I was very surprised that research on this topic is sparse. Your last point on focusing on the child’s strength when communicating with parents stood out to me because working with adolescents I see many situations where parents and collaterals focus on all the negative aspects of a child and fail to highlight their abilities.

      Reply

    • Haley Scola
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 17:00:11

      Hi Dawn,
      I was also surprised at how complex communicating results was. I never thought about the important aspects we’ve learned through this lecture before. Your point on individualizing the communication based on several factors was a part of attunement I never even noticed before. Knowing as a therapist I need to keep track of not only my responses but also my body language, amount of eye contact, my tone of voice, etc. makes me a bit uneasy. I wonder when were in the session if we’ll be thinking of all these factors or if it’ll come naturally. I think in reference to your “what” and “how” another factor is we need to focus on all those points previously talked about but we also need to keep in consideration THIS specific individual’s perception of what we’re saying and being able to attune to that as well.

      Reply

  5. Yen Pham
    Jun 07, 2020 @ 22:31:09

    1. For communicating results to clients (or parents), provide a couple points that stuck out to as very relevant (explain why).

    Some points that stuck out as relevant when communicating results to clients and or parents were that, firstly, a counselor needs to be knowledgeable about the information contained in the manual. I found this point is important because the knowledge about the instrument helps the counselors are able to interpret the results to clients more appropriate in any context; in turn this knowledge helps the counselors provide clients the best treatments. Secondly, assessment results should not be presented as infallible predictions, explain in terms of probabilities and not certainties. In other words, the counselor should give interpretations as tentative and not absolute, as well as the results should be discussed in the context of other client information. The reason I think this point is important because the wisdom of interpreting the results can sometimes be of great benefit to clients and parents. When interpreting the results of probabilities and not certainties, we counselors can help the clients and parents do not lose hope for treatment. In regard to communicating results to parents, I think, understanding parents view and emotions when their child has been diagnosed with a disorder is important because as a counselor should put the mood in the parents’ moods and thoughts to understand their pain and to sympathize with them. Above all, the counselor reaches out an opportunity to understand the parents better and thereby find ways to help them learn to fight the truth about their children’s illness. In fact, we know some parents who cannot identify their child’s strengths. Thus, it is helpful when a counselor helps parents focus on the child’s abilities and not just the disabilities.

    2. Why is it so important in “what” and “how” you communicate mental health assessment results to clients?

    It is so important in the “what” and ‘how’ a counselor communicates mental health assessment results to clients because communicating results to client is often one of the most important aspects of the assessment process. If this information is not communicated effectively, clients or others may misperceive the assessment results thus, the interpretation of assessment results requires specialized knowledge and competencies. For example, a common problem is confusing the percentile with the percentage correct. A counselor has a client who was initially upset with her performance at 50th percentile. When she saw her score on the mathematical section of a standardized achievement test, she began to weep and said that she had never been good in math. Interpreting of her score, a counselor might say that her performance at 50th indicates the percentage of her in the norming group she had a score at or below a given raw score. Percentiles should not be confused with the common scoring method of indicating the percentage of items answered correctly. So that, she had gotten 50 percent of the norming group had a score at or below her. Once the misunderstanding was corrected, the client was pleased with her performance and seemed to feel more efficacious about her mathematical skills. In addition, interpreting the results for clients have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, counselors need to be knowledge about the instrument and the clients’ specific results so that the focus during the interpretation of results can be on the client’s questions and reactions rather than on what the scores mean. Clients’ questions and reactions provide counselors more understating for the past, and present of clients’ information. All of that information is benefit for counselors to decide the best ways to treat clients.

    Reply

  6. Trey Powers
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 14:38:23

    1.
    One element of communicating results to clients that stuck out to me was how easily results can be misunderstood by the client. I thought that the example given by the author in the beginning of the communicating results section was especially eye-opening. The fact that the woman who was informed her results were in the 50th percentile misinterpreted it as being a score of 50%, and subsequently was reduced to tears because of her shame at being bad at math was particularly poignant, as well as pertinent. Explaining results in laymen’s terms and ensuring that the client understands the true meaning behind their scores is therefore extremely important. This is likely something that I will need to work on, as I have a tendency to use jargon relatively frequently as I believe that it carries more meaning with it. While it may make more sense to me and my colleagues, a client is susceptible to misunderstand, or even outright not understand what I am saying.

    A second element that stood out to me was the major benefit that comes with communicating results to the client. Reading through the many research studies that have found such a wide variety of benefits for the client, ranging from better outcomes at the end of treatment, to increased willingness to continue counseling, to better self-esteem truly amazed me. I had no idea that simply communicating a person’s score on an instrument and describing what the implications of that score are could have such a profound effect on both the person and the process, which therefore adds even more significance to properly exploring a client’s results collaboratively.

    2.
    The way in which a counselor communicates results to a client, as well as what specifically is communicated to them, are both important elements of the process. As I already mentioned above, a counselor must be certain that they are communicating results in a way that the client can understand, and clarify any misinterpretations or confusion that the client may have, as this can negatively impact the person’s mood, self-esteem, and willingness to continue counseling. Additionally, it is important to not convey the results in a way that makes it seem like they are the absolute truth, making sure to explain their results in context with the norms that have been established over time, and noting any potential error or limitations that may exist within the instrument. The counselor should also ensure that the results are not conveyed in isolation, but rather as part of the therapeutic process. To do this, the counselor should remain attuned to the client’s affect and any physical changes that may emerge as they are learning of their results. Asking whether the client is understanding or has any questions throughout the description of the results also helps to put the client more at ease, showing that the counselor is open to them voicing their questions and concerns. Finally, debriefing or summarizing in the end can help to solidify the client’s understanding of what they have just learned, clear up any final confusion or misconceptions, and allow the client to leave the session without any residual anxiety or questions.

    Reply

    • Michelle McClure
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 16:47:07

      Hi Trey! I liked how you used the example from the book about how easily results can be misunderstood by the client. It is so important as clinicians to always consider the individual clients background, education and specific needs when it comes to understanding the results of the assessments. Every interaction that a clinician has with a client is an opportunity to increase the rapport with that client. The higher a clinicians rapport with the client the more likely the client will engage with the clinician and will get the most from their time with the clinician. A clinician should always be asking questions to clients in ways that encourage feedback and like you said the more comfortable the client is asking questions the more likely they will have a better understanding of what they have learned and the less anxiety they are likely to have later.

      Reply

    • Christopher LePage
      Jun 08, 2020 @ 17:24:14

      Hi Trey! I agree the fact that the clients can so easily be misinterpreted stood out to me as well. Regarding the fact that woman ranked in the 50th percentile of misinterpreting the results was interesting too. I was wondering if this was due to maybe woman potentially overestimating how much of the results they misinterpreted, whereas men may have underestimated how much they really knew. It is also interesting how just the way you communicate to a patient their results can improve their self-esteem. I feel this is due to the fact that patients who leave feeling like they understand their results feel much more comfortable about the process overall, and really trust the clinicians and professionals that they are working with.

      Reply

    • Selene Anaya
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 22:10:25

      Hi Trey! The point you made about how easy it can be for results to be misunderstood by a client is a very important one. Most of the elements I deemed especially important pertained to how it is presented, but also how it is comprehended is crucial. I think the example in the book really shed light on how easy and quick a misinterpretation of results can be harsh. I also agree with needing to work on using jargon. In fact, at a recent chiropractor appointment, my Dr. used jargon and made me feel very inferior and almost as though I should have known what she was talking about. I kind of just accepted what she said without really understanding, leading me to not act more or know how to pay attention to a problem I probably should. This experience allowed me to feel first-hand how a client may feel if I use jargon in communicating results. I think your point of the importance of staying attuned to the way the client reacts physically and perhaps nonverbally as they learn of the results was interesting and definitely something I will keep in mind. I do feel as though simply recognizing any discomfort can allow us as professionals to clarify things even more that a client may be too shy or nervous to ask about. I know I would feel better if that was the case!

      Reply

  7. Michelle McClure
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 16:34:55

    When communicating results to clients and/or parents it is first important for you as a clinician to understand the instrument and read the manual so that you have a good understanding of what you are explaining to the client. This is important because if you as the clinician do not understand the instrument how can you than explain to the client something you yourself do not understand. The next step is preparing the client and/or parent to receive the feedback on the instrument using good general counseling skills, speaking simply, using unconditional positive regard, explaining why you are giving the client the assessment you chose and emphasizing the importance of using the results of the instrument to help the client. This is important because it builds on the therapeutic rapport with the client which encourages a client to engage fully in therapy. The clinician should explain the scores using descriptive language rather than just giving numbers and discussing the results in terms of probabilities rather than in certainties. This is important because our clients usually respond better to interpretations that give them hope that things for them can and will improve with an appropriate treatment plan. The clinician can use visual aids if appropriate to help the client understand the results of the instrument. This is important because we should always use every tool at our disposal to help our clients.
    When communicating what the results of the instrument were and how they were generated it is important to take the individual client, the clients background and education and so forth into account. When communicating this to clients you should use language skills that the client can understand and will be comfortable with and find easy to understand. The clinician should use a range of scores when able instead of using one singular score and should when able discuss the results in descriptive terms, rather than focusing on the numbers the clinician should focus on what the numbers represent. The clinician should explain to the client not just the score but what the score means and what the score means specifically for the client. The clinician should always present tentative interpretations rather then absolutes and should keep the interpretations positive and helpful for the individual client. Always encourage the client to ask questions about their scores or anything they don’t understand about the results or concerns that they may have with the results.

    Reply

    • Trey Powers
      Jun 11, 2020 @ 14:09:47

      Hi Michelle!

      You brought up the point of the importance of counselors having a thorough understanding of the purpose and appropriateness of various instruments. I agree that this is very important, as choosing an inappropriate test can not only slow down the process, but also possibly confuse both counselor and client because of the results. Personally, when I was reading of how essential it is to know with certainty that an instrument is appropriate, as well as how many different instruments are in existence, even for evaluating the same disorder, I felt somewhat overwhelmed. I know that, like with the disorders in the DSM, we will not need to know every single instrument by heart (which would likely be impossible anyway), but the idea of combing through so many instruments in order to find one that fits best with your current client seems like a daunting task.

      Reply

  8. Christopher LePage
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 17:00:57

    1. One major point that stuck out to me as being relevant in terms of communication is actually the importance of the parent. I have worked with kids in a few different settings, and hardly ever working with the parents at all, so this point while may seem obvious could actually be crucial. One of the reasons that I believe this to be so important, because sometimes a parent has full control over the client. Their behavior/words can have a major impact to the client (especially if they are a little kid), and the parents presence alone could negatively impact your session with your client. That is why I think it is so important to make sure the parents are so involved with this whole process cause in the end it will end up benefitting the client. Another point that stood out to me was when explaining something to a client, it is important to speak in terms of “this may occur” instead of a concrete point. The reason why I believe this to be important is because, for me anyway if I were a client this would make me feel as if I might have more control over my situation, whereas if a doctor or healthcare professional told me concretely “these are the results this is what is going to happen” I would feel much more hopeless overall.

    2. The “what” and “how” of an assessment is communicated by a clinician can change the entire experience for your client. Assessments can be confusing at times and if it was me in a situation where a professional is just reading off the paper what it is and not explaining it I would be hopelessly confused which only makes matters worse. That is why it is important to take the time to just describe the assessment and break it down for the client, so the results do not appear too daunting. How you communicate an assessment is just as important. If I walked into my session and the mental health professional spoke in a monotone voice and did not make much eye contact I would be concerned that the assessment was even correct. It is extremely important to help the client feel heard in these situations, which is why it is important to demonstrate that you care by “how” you are communicating their results.

    Reply

    • Althea Hermitt McPherson
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 00:52:22

      Hi Christopher I agree with you that the what and how an assessment is communicated to a client can alter the clients experience. It can also determine the clients outlook on their diagnosis, their willingness to continue treatment and their motivation to address the problem list based on the assessment result. That time taken to describe and break down the assessment to clients often time will span over the general 1 hrs session so counselors need to also prepare for that and be accommodating in using basic counselling techniques to alleviate some of the clients negative emotions and dismay. Certainly counselors need to be engaging and be able to modulate their tone based on situations. However there is such a fine line in getting it right as there are so many other factors in play because all clients are unique in their own way and might have different nuisance based on culture, socioeconomic status, background, educational level etc. that could severely alter the communication experience. Therefore the what and how an assessment is communicated to a client is of utmost impotence.

      Reply

    • Michelle McClure
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 18:14:00

      Hi Christopher! I really liked how you brought up the importance of the parent when communicating assessment results to a child client. I have also worked with kids but also with families and when parents are being supportive and positive about their children’s diagnosis and treatment plan things tend to go really well, much better then when the parents are negative or indifferent. I think its really important that clinicians explain to the parents how important their influence is when explaining the results of an assessment. If the parents are responding positively then the child is much more likely to respond positively as well. I also like how you really talked about how important the language we use with clients is, it is important that we use words and phrases they can really understand and internalize with rather then making everything too clinical and technical, this is particularly important when explaining results to children but even explaining results to adult clients its important to take back ground such as education and SES into account and choose our words wisely. Of course its always good advice in any situation to choose your words wisely 😉

      Reply

    • Selene Anaya
      Jun 09, 2020 @ 22:21:03

      Hi Chris! My response mainly focused on communicating results to parents/children so it was nice to hear from someone who has actual experience working with them in mental health settings. I think it was especially important to point out the full control some parents may have over their child. I can definitely see how being fully transparent and clarifying anything you feel necessary for the parent can be crucial in the well-being of the client and the success of future treatment. I also tried to think of myself in the client’s shoes when reading about the communication of results. You phrased it in a way that was easy to understand why it could be so important in terms of the feeling of control of the situation and what it could mean for the future. It is also very important to be able to break down the assessment results as much as possible, which is why our current understanding the basics of assessments and their results is crucial. I think when we are thinking of how to communicate results, it is especially important to maintain our understanding, compassionate, empathetic selves, and not diverge from the way we act or communicate in any other part of the sessions.

      Reply

  9. Haley Scola
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 17:40:38

    1.Some points that stood out the most to me during the lecture slides and text readings were that communicating results to clients is an important way of establishing reporte with your client and is a part of the therapeutic process. This seems relevant because having open discussion displays to the client a transparent and open communication throughout your relationship and in addition, the client and yourself can both learn insights throughout these and allowing the client to answer questions/think in ways they normally wouldn’t have. This may result in an advancement in the therapy through the growth of trust and self-awareness.

    Another important point is with parents who, despite the assessment results and the therapist’s professional opinion, claim their child does not have the disorder. Being able to understand the parent’s defensiveness and not pushing the results too hard because this could hinder the therapy with your child client. In addition, I thought the point of not succumbing to victimization and instead using coping skills was very relevant, this is what I currently do at my job so knowing that I’m already practicing future skills is very helpful.

    2. Communicating the “what” and “how” of the mental health results to clients is so important for several reasons. One being that if you give an “absolute” interpretation you’re basically telling the client ‘this is who you are and that’s that’ sort of deal, which could hinder the client’s perception of themselves and their self-image. I think it could cause the client to even be less open to changes in themselves (on a subconscious or unconscious level) throughout the therapeutic process. Another point is that developing multiple methods allows for you to attune to your clients’ needs and demonstrate an individualized therapeutic process.

    Reply

    • Dawn Seiple
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 21:55:43

      Hi Haley,
      As I thought about the situation where parents are reluctant to accept a diagnosis of their child and the idea of not presenting any diagnosis as an “absolute” interpretation, I wondered whether assigning a specific name to the child’s difficulties was imperative. I recognize that in order to have insurance cover treatment, therapists need to assign a diagnosis. However, there are so many preconceived stereotypes of different conditions and by giving the problems a name, they can seem more absolute and less open to any kind of interpretation. Naming it can begin to define the person. This question relates to the issue of whether or not a mental health disorder is a unique medicalized condition that is biological in nature and more absolute or a mental health disorder is a condition that can be on a spectrum with many contributing factors and is less absolute. As you noted, whether for children or adults, an absolute diagnosis can feel like you said “this is who you are and that’s that”. To counter these feelings, therapists need to be open to the feedback of their patients and to the parents’ feedback. An assessment is a single measure at a specific point in time. To truly make a thorough diagnosis, sufficient time needs to be spent getting to know the patient. When facing resistance to a diagnosis, therapists need to be able to figure out if that resistance is based on denial or is actually based on additional information not gleaned in the assessment.

      Reply

    • Trey Powers
      Jun 11, 2020 @ 13:59:04

      Hi Haley!

      I thought your point on being transparent was interesting. The health care field is one that many people have only a basic understanding of, and even if something is explained to them, they may not understand either why they are undergoing a certain test, or what the results of that test mean and any implications they may have. This may cause patients to be suspicious of doctors and other health care workers, which can be extremely detrimental to their relationship, especially in mental health. Being open and honest with your client and explaining to them clearly each step of the process is therefore very important to both the patient’s well-being and the quality of the therapeutic alliance.

      Reply

  10. Brigitte Manseau
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 21:28:54

    1. The first point that jumped out at me for communicating results to clients was preparing the client to receive the feedback. It is important to be straightforward so the client understands why the assessment is being administered. I feel like it is important to highlight that being open and honest from the start helps build rapport between the counselor and client. A client who is aware of his/her/their anxiety may still find comfort in the explanation of why a particular assessment is being used. Also, preparing a client who is unfamiliar with the mental health assessment process may help calm the client’s nerves. In terms of communicating results to parents, the point that stuck out for me was focusing on the child’s strengths and not only the child’s weaknesses. It is super important to remind parents of the child’s abilities to foster a supportive mindset. If the counselor creates an open, positive dialogue that includes the child’s abilities parents are likely to follow the counselor’s lead. It provides a hopeful outlook on how the child and parents can move forward.

    2. It is important “what” results counselors communicate to the client. A counselor just telling the client what their score is would be useless. Most clients will not have training in psychological assessment so they are unable to decipher what their numerical score means in relation to themself. A counselor who provides an explanation of their client’s score gives the client a better understanding of the assessment results. “How” results are communicated to clients is just as important as to “what”. Everyone processes new information in various ways. Therefore, it is important a counselor develops more than one style on how to effectively communicate results to fit various clients. Also, how a counselor communicates results could determine whether the client continues the therapeutic process. Harshly delivering results by using absolute interpretations and being unapproachable could lead to a client feeling even more confused and helpless than before. That experience could potentially sour the client’s perception of therapy and lead to the client stopping their therapeutic journey.

    Reply

    • Casey Cosky
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 22:03:07

      Hi Brigitte! I liked that you mentioned the importance not only of helping to prepare a client who is unfamiliar with the process, but also in communicating the results to the parents. Highlighting strengths and abilities in regards to anybody’s mental health assessment is important but children and their parents especially need the extra reassurance/explanation. We actually had to approach things the same way when I was a preschool teacher. When a child had a difficult day with their behavior we were still encouraged to highlight the good aspects of their day to keep the parent calm and remind them that they are still a good kid even if they had an off day. I know it’s not the same exact thing but I think the reasoning behind it is pretty similar.

      Reply

  11. Althea Hermitt McPherson
    Jun 08, 2020 @ 23:51:38

    Based on the text readings and lecture recording due this week consider the following two discussion points: (1) For communicating results to clients (or parents), provide a couple points that stuck out to you as very relevant (explain why).

    Communicate results in multiple ways, while minimizing jargon and use visual aids- This point stood out to me because sometimes as professionals we don’t think about the clients and their abilities when we give information and if we are not communicating effectively then the information could be lost in translation. Using visual aid reminds me also to take into consideration people’s preference and how they learn and what would be more beneficial to them in presenting the information whether that’s tracking the data or making age appropriate visuals.

    Help Parents focus on the child ability- This stood out to me the most as a Direct Care Professional often parent and collateral focus on the things that are going wrong or the things that are problematic and little time is spent owning and celebrating abilities.

    Monitor parents’ response, so the child does not internalize their negative reactions- this part could be difficult as parents would need to purposefully work on this themselves with coaching and perhaps some enlightenment on the effect this could have on the child.

    Discuss results in the context of other information- this was interesting to me because clients who attribute their diagnosis to a simple test score can sometimes feel hopeless but highlighting other factors that contributed to that diagnosis can help Clients to feel hopeful.

    Involve clients in the interpretation- this gives the counselor information on how the client perceives the instrument and their thought process around the diagnosis or assessment.

    Understanding parents’ views when their child has been diagnosed with a disorder and helps them adjust to the situation. I feel like understanding and giving parents time to wrap their mind around such information is important because depending on what the diagnosis is parents are sometime in denial and need time to get to get to total acceptance.

    (2) Why is it so important in “what” and “how” you communicate mental health assessment results to clients?

    It is important what and how you communicate mental health assessment results to clients. Counselors should communicate information in such a way that clients can still feel hopeful and motivated despite the assessment results hence counselors should use tentative interpretations instead of absolute interpretations due to the many limitations of assessments. This process of communicating results to a client is considered to be equivalent to therapy as counselors get the opportunity to build rapport and a therapeutic relationship therefore interaction should be respectful and empathetic. Counselors should also prepare the client to receive feedback on their assessment by explaining the reason for the assessment and how the results will give advice on treatment goals by helping to figure out what needs to be incorporated. Communicating assessment results should be done in such a way that clients are provided with clear, descriptive, insightful information and given the opportunity to reflect on problems areas. The result should also be explained and discussed in the context of others to ensure that the client doesn’t feel like they are alone in this because other people have had similar results or diagnosis and have been able to make major gains. Counselors should consider their clients preference and mental abilities when communicating results thus presenting it in multiple ways. Counselors should try to match their style of communication to the client style while also being careful about coming off as snobby or stuck-up. Counselors should encourage clients to share their thoughts, be open about their feelings towards the assessment and ask any questions that they might have. When communicating results to parents counselors should be mindful about accepting parents’ emotions because some parents might have negative emotions about the diagnosis and they might need to utilize basic counselling skills to help parents process and accept the assessment result. Counselors should also be optimistic and help parents to focus on their child abilities and not their disabilities while being tactful in helping parents to be mindful of their negative emotions if any.

    Reply

    • Dawn Seiple
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 08:33:17

      Hi Althea,
      You made a couple of thought-provoking points in your post about communicating results to clients. First, I had not previously considered the importance of the client’s learning style when communicating assessment results. Some people really do not process auditory material well and your suggestion regarding visual aids was a great one. Many people do not even know or understand their learning style, so as a counselor, you might need to be able to figure this out for them. You certainly wouldn’t want to provide long verbal explanations, only to find out later that the patient can’t absorb the information that way. This exemplifies the importance of getting feedback from the client by asking them to talk back what they understand about the results. This also gives the counselor an opportunity to identify if the patient has allowed negative thoughts to affect their understanding and has made unproductive attributions about the results.

      The second point you made was related to monitoring the parents’ response to results so the child does not internalize their negative reactions. While this can sound like something one can easily do, you note that this can actually be very difficult. It made me consider the parents’ role throughout the mental health counseling process. As someone who would like to work with children and adolescents in the future, it got me thinking about how you get parents to work on their own behavior and to help them understand their role in their child’s mental health. In some situations, it will likely be extremely difficult to effectively counsel a child whose home environment continues to be negative and not supportive. I am interested in learning how counselors can best work with parents to engage them and how to continue to help a child even when the parents can’t or won’t help.

      Reply

    • Brigitte Manseau
      Jun 10, 2020 @ 21:46:22

      Hi Althea,
      Prior to your post I hadn’t really thought about using visual aids while interpreting results to clients. For some reason I focused my attention on various ways I could verbally explain results. You brought up an extremely important point that all clients will not process their results in the same way. We all learn in different ways. Therefore, counselors must be prepared to present results in a multitude of ways. It may be easier for individuals to see their results on a graph or chart if they are visual learners. Also, providing visual aids when working with children and adolescents could help them understand their results more compared to just verbally explaining them.

      Reply

  12. Casey Cosky
    Jun 09, 2020 @ 23:36:31

    One point that is very relevant when it comes to communicating the results to a client is not to be absolute. A client will be less willing and optimistic about therapy if they are convinced from the beginning that they will be stuck in the same mindset regardless due to the score they got on the initial assessment. It is completely natural and expected for somebody to get defensive when someone else tells them that they are incapable of ever changing for the better, so it makes perfect sense that that would impair a client’s growth during therapy. The point of avoiding of a self-fulfilling prophecy is also very important. If somebody is in therapy, it’s probably because they are looking to develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving. If they are told that they won’t be able to get better, then they may not allow themselves to.
    Minimizing jargon and using visual aids also stuck out to me. Everybody processes information differently and it’s important to make sure that the client fully understands what is being explained to them. Using big words just to sound more professional doesn’t really help much when the person you’re trying to explain it to doesn’t understand what you’re saying. This logic applies to the use of visual aids as well. Some people are big visual learners and if a visual will help the client better understand what is being explained to them, then it’s really important to utilize that.

    A therapist is supposed to encourage and support their client, not make them feel like they don’t have a chance. What you communicate to the client is important because not only do you have to give them the results of their test, but you need to make sure you explain it to them in a way they understand. This means the diagnosis needs to be followed up with more detail about why they were diagnosed as well as reassurance that they will then get the care they need. Merely telling a person that they have been diagnosed with depression without explaining which symptoms indicate that and explaining their treatment options may leave them feeling hopeless. How you communicate the information is also important because not only do they have to understand it, but they need to feel that they are being heard as well. Giving clients the opportunity to ask questions and request information may make treatment seem more inviting and make them more motivated to work with you.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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