Topic 4: Communicating Assessment Results {by 9/29}

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 9/29.  Post your two replies no later than 10/1.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

76 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tiana Faulkner
    Sep 23, 2022 @ 22:37:16

    I think it was super interesting to learn that we need to have multiple different ways to explain results prepared for clients. I never thought about how difficult it can actually be to interpret the results then relay the information to the client in ways that they can understand. Also, having to change the way we describe the results of the assessments was an interesting point to learn. Explaining the results in terms of probabilities rather than certainties and having to use descriptive terms rather than numerical scores or even just having to provide a range of scores rather than just one score. It is really just all things you never really think of needing to include until you are in moments like these learning them.
    It is super important to make sure the results are being relayed in the correct manner because it is so crucial that the clients are able to fully understand the assessment they took, why they took that specific one, and what their results mean. When people take tests, the normal assumption is that a high score is good and a low score is bad, however as we know that is not necessarily true. Each assessment measures the answers given differently with different types of answers each meaning vastly different things. Like mentioned in class a couple weeks ago with the educational testing if the 9-year-old scored a twelve that does not mean they were at a 12-year old’s level, they were just at a higher level than other 9-year-olds. This is not something that is just assumed, it needs to be carefully explained. Other assessments are better understood when the results are given in ranges or, like stated earlier, not in numerical scores at all. It can potentially be dangerous if the results of the assessment are not given in the correct manner, the client can have a decline in their mental health if they feel like they did badly on something, or have feelings of helplessness, or just straight up not understand the results and see no benefit in the assessment.

    Reply

    • Alyson Langhorst
      Sep 27, 2022 @ 19:39:53

      Hi Tiana,

      I agree with you in regards to actually interpreting the results of an assessment. I feel like it’s easier said than done and will become more natural with experience- taking into account the intricacies of explaining assessment results. You also bring up a good point that results shouldn’t be discussed in absolutes. For multiple reasons, it may make the client feel helpless and make the therapy feel pointless to them. It could also make the client feel defensive if the result is new information to them (something that they didn’t consider). In terms of relating it back to validity, the therapist might not be using an assessment in the way it was intended to be used and thus the results can’t be absolute. Additionally, because random error is always a possibility, it’s not fair to say that a result from an assessment is absolute. Instead, as you said, giving ranges and probabilities can prevent error on the part of the therapist and prevent confusion/negative feelings on the part of the client.

      Reply

  2. Jack Halliday
    Sep 25, 2022 @ 10:42:27

    The point that stuck out to me the most was the fact that there is a lot on us, the clinician, in terms of picking and administering tests. It makes sense, but I hadn’t put too much thought into the fact that there’s a lot of assessments out there and it’s up to us to select the one that is most applicable for our client. That feels kind of silly to say because it is incredibly obvious but it’s not something that I had thought too much about before this. It’s also important to be prepared to explain the results in a couple of different ways; so if your client doesn’t fully understand the results, you’re not left fumbling to figure out another way to explain them. Another important thing to keep in mind while communicating results is to not use technical terms. It’s important to keep these things in mind because the whole point is to help your client/client’s parents to understand what you’re telling them. Not only that, but the why and how is also important for your client’s progression. Studies have shown that clients who receive interpretations of their results from their counselors make better progress in their sessions than those who do not. It’s also important, when dealing with parents that you effectively communicate the results because they have a lot of say in the services their children receive. The better the parents understand the results, the more equipped they are to make informed decisions regarding their children’s care. That also applies to older clients as well. For me the big picture is that the more informed your client is the better prepared they are for treatment; and the best way to have an informed client is to accurately communicate their test results in a way that they can understand them.

    Reply

    • mikayladebois
      Sep 26, 2022 @ 11:38:00

      Hi Jack! I was also taken aback by the number of assessments and amount of factors that went into choosing which to administer. I like your comment about having a client be prepared for their treatment by informing them of their testing results. I hadn’t given much thought to the preparedness aspect, but if we know what we are getting into before we embark on that journey, it will be so much easier to conceptualize what will be asked of us.

      Reply

    • Becca Boucher
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:33:15

      Hi Jack!
      I agree that I hadn’t thought about how much thought goes into picking which assessments to give to clients. I never considered that certain assessments may be better or worse for different individuals. However, I wonder why individuals who get results communicated to them from their clinician make better progress.

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    • Alysha Benoit
      Oct 02, 2022 @ 00:17:00

      Hi Jack, this also stuck out to me as well. Not only did I pick up on in the text, but this class so far as a whole has been eye-opening in the importance of administering assessments and explaining their results in a way that allows for the client to progress and get better. I like to always keep in mind that it’s our goal to eventually not see our clients. We want them to understand assessment results and the point of administering them because it’s motivates and encourages them when they could see their progession. I also liked how you explained that communicating the results should embody a comforting style. I agree with you that it is very important to be able to console a client if they are hearing a rough diagnosis or assessment results.

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  3. mikayladebois
    Sep 26, 2022 @ 11:34:09

    I felt like the explanations to parents about the disorder or disability being one aspect of their child’s life is very important. As the text mentioned, there might be negative reactions to the news, but it is imperative that the parents do not communicate to their child something like disappointment or dissatisfaction. Being rejected by one’s parents can be so psychologically damaging, especially when the diagnosis is not the child’s or anyone else’s fault. Some parents already hold impossibly high expectations for their children and not meeting those goals can feel like a huge let-down. I would want to stress to those parents specifically that this is only one part of their child, there is an infinite amount of things for them to love, including the disorder.
    Another important part of communicating results is to make sure that the audience can fully understand what you are saying. This is related to having multiple ways to explain the outcomes and results, but we need to be mindful of whom we are talking to at the moment. When explaining to a child what it means to have an ADHD diagnosis, we might not want to use any of the scientifical jargon that we could use when speaking to another professional in the field. Likewise, we wouldn’t use such casual or relaxed language when speaking with said professional. I also thought it was interesting that the textbook suggested we let the client finish certain sentences or give their own summaries. This would make sure that they knew what we were trying to say, but everyone will also have their own understanding of a common disorder, there will be a connotation for them that we can’t account for.
    It is important for us to be careful of the delivery of assessment results because we don’t want to accidentally communicate something that we do not mean to or agree with. If I am insensitive in explaining to a client their results indicating a bipolar diagnosis, the client may feel invalidated or ridiculed. We also want to make sure that we are communicating the correct information following the assessment. If we interpret the results incorrectly and then report those findings to the client or other interested parties, it could seriously impact their treatment plan or the therapeutic relationship.

    Reply

    • Tiana Faulkner
      Sep 26, 2022 @ 14:37:00

      Hi Mikayla! I agree there are so many different factors that play into why it is important that we communicate the results the right way. I did not mention parents a lot in my response, but I definitely agree with how important it is that the parents understand the results and do not treat their child any differently. They can do a lot of damage to their children and not even realize it. I also had not thought about insensitivity aspect when communicating results. However, I also believe there needs to be a sense of professionalism. You want to communicate the results in a way they can understand, providing all of the information they need, while also being sensitive to their reactions and the diagnosis but also making sure they are not coddled and treated any differently.

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    • Taylor Poland
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 15:17:46

      Hi Mikayla!
      I think you did a nice job discussing the implications of children witnessing negative reactions from their parents after the diagnosis. Parental rejection is very traumatic to a child and the idea of being a disappointment can significantly affect a person well into their adult lives. As future clinicians, it is very important to monitor the parent’s reactions to limit the likelihood of a child experiencing these negative feelings. I really like how you stated that the love a parent has towards a child should not change due to a diagnosis- I could not have said it better myself.

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    • Jack Halliday
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:35:53

      Hey Mikayla, I agree with your emphasis on the importance of how parents portray the results to their children. As someone who does, and will continue to, work with children that part of the chapter stuck out to me as well. How the parents take the news can have a tremendous impact on how their child takes the news too, so it almost adds an additional layer of importance as to how you explain the results. I also liked the emphasis you placed on how exactly we explain the results, as I also focused on that aspect. It is crucial to know your audience because this is not an opportunity to flex all the fancy words you use, it’s about the client. I also enjoyed your emphasis on the fact that we need to accurately interpret the results. It seems like a given but I’m sure that mistake has been made many times in the past.

      Reply

  4. Abby Sproles
    Sep 26, 2022 @ 14:20:24

    Apart from the counselor being knowledgeable in the assessment and interpretation of the results, the counselor needs to know how to best convey the results to the client or the client’s parents. Counselors need to convey results in a way that makes sense for the consumer. This can be done by using descriptions of the score rather than the specific number or percentile. For example, “if 100 people took this test, 50 people would have a score at or below your score”. Counselors may also need to explain terms such as standard deviation or percentile to the client. Visual aids may also be useful. Another consideration that stood out to me is the benefits of a collaborative approach to the communication of results. This approach can help build a stronger therapeutic relationship, answer any questions the client may have, and may make the client feel that they have more control over the situation.

    The “what” and “how” are important to explain to the client in order for them to understand what their score may mean. A counselor needs to explain the purpose of the instrument, the score within a range, and that score’s relation to a criterion or norming group. A deeper understanding of one’s score may lead to greater retention within counseling, or for parents, may lead to a better understanding of how they can assist their child. The goal for a counselor should be to incorporate the assessment and its results within the counseling process. Therefore, a counselor needs to know how best to interpret and communicate scores to clients to promote therapeutic change.

    Reply

    • Tiana Faulkner
      Sep 26, 2022 @ 14:41:49

      Hi Abby! I definitely agree with your point about how the communication of the results, when done with a collaborative approach can help build a stronger therapeutic relationship when done correctly and incorporating the results into the counseling process. However, I think it is also important to almost try not to even explain those math terms to the client, we are there to communicate the results in a way that gets rid of those confusing terms and gives them the easiest way of understanding the results. We want them to leave knowing what the assessment was, why it was important, what their results were, and why those results were important.

      Reply

    • Jack Halliday
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:44:07

      Hey Abby, I think your emphasis on the idea of descriptions of scores rather than raw data, that point stuck out to me too. Even as a student in the field, I find it much more informative to receive descriptions and interpretations rather than raw scores. They’re a lot easier to digest and I think that receiving things like this in context really aide our understanding of them. The collaborative approach also stuck out to me. Personally, I’m not 100% what exactly that means, but the way you put it is also what I interpreted it to mean. To me, it seems like something that would be a given and kind of obvious anyways though. The idea of incorporating the results into the session also stuck out to me as very important.

      Reply

    • Becca Boucher
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:49:19

      Hi Abby! Your explanation of how clinicians should describe the client’s score in general rather than clinical or statistical terms in order for the results to be conveyed best. I also never thought before this chapter about just how much the clinician has to tell the client about the assessments. However, it makes sense that if you are being assessed you want to know what the assessment is measuring, and what exactly your score means for you.

      Reply

    • Megan VanDyke
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 18:51:19

      Hi, Abby! I like that you expanded on the example of describing what the 50th percentile means, but I might also add “you’re right where you should be” to convey an average score positively. As a visual learner, I appreciated your point on using aids to report assessment results. A bell curve may look too confusing to someone who has no idea what it is, so I would try to use graphs wherever possible. Lastly, I agree that interpreting and communicating the results correctly to parents can help them better understand how to assist their child. Still, it is equally important to focus on the child’s strengths as some parents may struggle to cope with the idea that their child has a disorder.

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  5. Esther Konadu
    Sep 27, 2022 @ 11:43:24

    Realizing that we must communicate results in a way that is easier to understand was probably my biggest takeaway. It seems so obvious, but I think we forget that not everyone thinks, learns, or understands things in the same way. Especially after being surrounded by people in the same field/interest as you, we forget that there are others outside the bubble. This goes especially for parents who are having their kids come in. Taking the time to explain their child’s results can clear up misunderstandings and might make the parents feel slightly more confident in their ability to help their child at home. Another essential piece of communicating results is involving whoever is on the receiving end. If the client feels alienated or distanced from the results, then that could affect sessions in the future. Everyone in the session should be on the same page, and we should do everything we can to be sure that is a reality.

    In terms of “what” and “how”, this circles back to proper comprehension. We cannot assume that what we would explain as therapists makes sense to the person sitting (or who is on the screen) in front of us. Breaking down what the results mean might relieve some worry and giving context as to how this result changes (not in a positive or negative sense, but in a “where do we get to where we want to be?” sense) session will help the therapeutic relationship. Otherwise, the client might feel betrayed and look for a new therapist who values them.

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    • Alyson Langhorst
      Sep 27, 2022 @ 19:27:32

      Hi Esther!

      You bring up a really good point that it’s important to include the client into the conversation. Instead of talking “at them” per se, we should be talking with them and making it a conversation rather than a lecture. I think that this is especially important for clients that are minors. It’s important to make sure that they feel like they are included rather than just being the subject that’s being talked about. I also agree that it’s important to be aware of the client’s level of knowledge in regards to psychology. We need to be mindful of the fact that clients may not know what the results mean, so it’s important to interpret them in a way that they’ll understand. I also like that you mention how it’s important to relate the results to what the client’s goals are. The point of therapy is to help clients learn skills to solve problems on their own, and help them recognize certain behaviors and help give them insight. This also ties into assessing over the course of the treatment plan. This way, we can see how to tailor the therapy (looking at what works and what doesn’t) for them to help them meet their goal.

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    • Whitney Andrew
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 10:16:47

      Hi Esther!

      I definitely agree that we have to remember not everyone thinks like us, especially since we are surrounding by other helpers and counselors through most of our day (like all of us in this class)! I also wrote about incorporating the client in the conversation rather than just listing everything off to them. What do you think the best way to open up the conversation to them? I wonder if putting it all out on the table and then opening the floor up to questions is more or less beneficial than bringing up questions throughout the interpretation of results.
      I really like the choice of the word betrayed because the weight of these results is that important and the therapist should be entrusted to help the client along the way and not betray that trust.

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    • rena yaghmour
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 17:38:55

      Hi Esther,
      I also agree with the fact that we sometimes forget not everyone understands everything the same way. I think it is so important to be able to have the background knowledge in order to educate clients and parents not only on the assessment they are taking but also their results. I also liked how you mentioned that with not the right information and clarification a client can end up feeling alienated. As counselors we don’t want our clients to feel this way and want them to fully understand their results in which they are able to confidently understand what the counselor is saying and know that they will be able to receive the guidance they need (if needed) moving forward.

      Reply

  6. Alyson Langhorst
    Sep 27, 2022 @ 18:59:27

    One aspect of communicating results to parents that stood out to me was the importance of how to frame the results. The book talked about how parents may feel a sense of grief and/or be struggling to accept the results of an assessment. In terms of an educational assessment, for example, the parent(s) may only see it as a “weakness” that the child has, so it’s important to frame the results and communicate this information in a way that takes into account the strengths that the child has and the other aspects of their lives that they thrive in. Additionally, the point of integrating assessment results into other information regarding therapy stuck out to me. This goes in hand with another point that it’s important to be able to explain results in a variety of ways. Everyone has a different level of understanding psychological terminology and has a different level of insight when it comes to identifying issues and problematic behaviors. So it’s important to utilize the assessment results and share them in a way that connects to the client’s behaviors and the information that they’ve shared. It helps, not only to show how the results may be affecting them, but it’ll also help them get a better understanding of the results.

    It’s important to plan what and how you will be communicating the results to the client (or the parents) because, as mentioned previously, everyone has a different level of understanding of psychology. If you were to just tell them, word-for-word, what the results are or show them, they can interpret it in a million ways. Carelessly sharing results can lead to confusion, negative feelings, and maybe even cause them to feel helpless or feel guilt. They may also feel apprehensive to continue treatment if the results are shared in a blunt or judgmental way. It’s also important to consider their understanding of psychology. For example, you might not explain the results of an assessment for someone who’s studying psychology the same way you would share the results to a client in high school, who’s never taken a psychology course. Being aware of the client’s background and explaining the results in a way that’s appropriate for their level of understanding is important in building the therapeutic relationship and reduces the risk of confusing the client and leaving them feeling helpless.

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    • Wendy Fernandes
      Sep 27, 2022 @ 22:07:24

      Hello Alyson! Your point about the importance of how to frame results for parents made me think of how meticulous that wording may have to be depending on the relationship with the parent (which I am assuming will be new). The wrong words many damage relationships with both the parent and child.
      Also, your point about not telling the client the results “word-for-word” is vital. In addition to the points you made in your response, it would be a waste of time to disseminate the results this way (like presenters who read from their PowerPoint slides during a presentation) and the client may consider time spent this way to be a misuse of their money.

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    • Ashley Millett
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 09:27:19

      Hi Alyson,

      I highly agree on what you said about explaining results in various ways. Out of the points in the book, I felt that this and knowing the information was highly important when communicating with clients. It is important because the general public may not know the terms that we are so familiar with. Emotions will also be running high when clients and/or parents hear the results. A point I have been making throughout this discussion is to make the client as comfortable as possible with the results. I also agree with what you said that everyone has a different level of understanding and insight on psychological terms. You may say one thing but they could interpret it another way.

      Reply

  7. Wendy Fernandes
    Sep 27, 2022 @ 21:38:47

    This chapter really made me think about that point in the future when I would have to give a diagnosis to someone and how I would come to that conclusion as well as share that news. With the assessments, I understood that some would be computerized and tabulate the responses, but I did not realise that some programs automatically send results to the client. This would be relevant information to have so that I can inform the client ahead of time that they would be receiving results automatically and to wait for me to provide context. I suppose this is like having blood work done and receiving the results directly from the lab. Without context from the doctor, it can be difficult to interpret those results. One area where I think I need more information is regarding using the assessment in the context of everything else that is happening with the client. For example, is it possible that the assessment would show someone as being minimally depressed but in speaking with them their circumstances show that they are more depressed than the assessment indicates? If so, how do I reconcile all these aspects to make the correct diagnosis and properly communicate this with the client? Another issue I am concerned about relates to giving a potentially stigmatizing diagnosis to a parent. In our future courses I look forward to learning how to communicate this type of sensitive information to parents in a way that allows them to continue with therapy for their children. Also, when treating children, it occurred to me that I will now have two clients (the parent and the child) that I will have to provide the same information but in vastly different ways.
    In general, I have found that when communicating results (of any kind) to a client the “what” and “how” are essential in establishing trust between the two parties and for the client to have confidence in the plans the counselor has for therapy. I want to share a discouraging example of communicating results that happened to me to demonstrate the importance of that interaction. I went to a primary care physician with symptoms of an illness that was worse than a cold. As I was telling her the symptoms, she pulled out a gigantic book and looked them up. Then she said, “Sounds like you have…bronchitis.” As a result of this interaction, I had no confidence in the abilities of this Doctor (although I did wonder where she got this book). Building rapport is one thing, but at a baseline the client should believe that the counselor has the knowledge to help them. Communicating assessment results will be one of the first occasions for the client to evaluate the counselor and begin to have confidence in the therapeutic process the counselor designs. A smooth beginning would be beneficial to all involved.

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    • Melissa Elder
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:44:47

      Hi Wendy,
      I liked that you pointed out how results not only mean something to the client but also to us as counselors, it can be hard to inform clients or parents of a diagnosis, I didn’t even really think about it that way, so thank you for bringing attention to that portion. You also have a great point in if you treat children you technically have their parents as clients too. Do you think it would be harder to communicate that results to the parent or the child? During my undergrad internship I shadowed a therapist who only saw children and it was extremely hard listening to the children and then having the parent come in and be completely clueless as to what is happening with their child so I could only imagine having to sit them down and explain a diagnosis as well, may I add that my internship steered me away from ever wanting to work with kids.

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  8. Lucy Rising
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:04:46

    Before any type of productive communication of assessment results can begin, we as counselors have to be knowledgeable on the assessment we are giving. While we may be familiar with one assessment that measures depression that does not mean we have familiarity with all depression assessments. Each has its own way of being scored and interpreted, and as a result we as counselors need to know the background of each assessment before being able to administer it. One of the things that stuck most out to me in the lecture slides as being important in communicating assessments was the advice to develop several different styles and methods on how you relay that information to your clients. Because it is an assessment (that is, something that is formally structured and intended to be delivered in the same way each time) I feel that we think that we have this preconceived notion that we must be as structured when we convey those results to the clients. After hearing the professor say that we ought to match the communication to the client it felt much like an “oh duh” moment for me because I hadn’t been thinking that as a possibility. But this makes much more sense in a clinical setting to match the explanation to the personality and needs of your client.
    In terms of the “how” we communicate the results it is important that we not only say the results but explain them in a way that informs the client of what they mean. For example, “You scored a 30 and on this assessment that indicates moderate feelings of anxiety,” and then going on to elaborate on what that means right now and what we could work on to help reduce those feelings. It should also be communicated to clients that assessments do not determine diagnoses but help us validate them and serve as a good progress indicator of the sessions over time and can be best used as a quantitative evaluation of theirs feels of distress over time.

    Reply

    • Melissa Elder
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:38:13

      Lucy,
      I enjoyed how you really emphasized counselors being familiar on any assessment we give as that is extremely important in order for a client to be properly treated. I also liked that you noted we feel we must be structured when giving results but that’s not the case as we must match communication style with the particular client. I liked that the booked stated we as counselors need to allow them to speak and ask questions during us explaining the results. I was wondering, Do you think allowing them space to explore the results is just as important as using their style of communication ?

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    • Abby Sproles
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:39:37

      Hi Lucy! I really liked your last sentence that a certain score does not mean you “have” a disorder but rather provides additional evidence about the client and the severity of their issues. Unfortunately, I think there is the potential for confirmation bias to occur when a clinician unknowingly associates a client’s score with a particular diagnosis. We just have to remember to consider all of the evidence: test scores and the symptoms presented by clients.

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  9. Melissa Elder
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:05:29

    After assessing a client It is important to accurately communicate results to the client and or parents because these results effect them and they deserve to have an accurate understanding of the results. It is important for the counselor to be prepared and have knowledge on all aspects of the assessment so they can answer any questions a client or parent may have. Not having answers to their questions will leave them feeling confused and overwhelmed, although after receiving results the client or parent is not going to necessarily feel great, they will feel better if they are educated on the assessment results and possibly a new diagnosis. It is also very important to be able to communicate with different terms and not in standard psychometric terms as not many clients would understand certain terms. You want them leaving confident in knowing what they just learned about themselves or their child. It is also very important to allow the client and/or parent to speak during this process, asking questions and being active during the conversation as you want to make sure they not only understand what is being told to them but also allow them to say or ask anything they may want too, Allowing them to feel more at ease while receiving this information.
    It is important to communicate results to clients in ways they can easily comprehend, you as a counselor want to be very clear with the client regarding their results and why they took that particular assessment. Giving results in a way that is hard for clients to understand can make them feel worse about themselves and fearful of what others will think of them. There is an example in the book of a girl who assumed because she was in the 50% rank that she got a 50% score on the assessment, which was not accurate because she actually scored in the average range. After understanding this she was feeling much better about herself and her score. The intention is never to hurt the client only to educate and help them better understand why the took a particular assessment, and what the score means for the client.

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    • Whitney Andrew
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 10:26:32

      Hi Melissa!

      As a client you 100% deserve an accurate understanding of results, I could not have said it better myself! It must be hard to navigate communicating in different terms to help clients understand when the results come in psychometric terminology every time. I really like how you said they should leave feeling confident in what they just learned so that they do not start to question the results in isolation.
      I agree that giving results in a hard to digest manner brings about the potential that clients will feel worse about themselves and instill fear. Educating the client is the top priority in communicating results, because what does the score really mean without the context and interpretation behind it?

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  10. Ashley Millett
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:32:22

    There were many things that stuck out to being very relevant for me. The three main ones that all tie together are, knowing the information, explaining the results in different ways and using common terms with clients. When it comes to clients and parents of clients, they might be in a state of shock from hearing the results. They might have heightened emotions coming into the session. Their thought process may go into a state of panic knowing the possible results. Clients and parents may also not know a lot about their diagnosis. As the therapist, you would want to know the information on the diagnosis. With this, it allows you to educate clients and parents on the diagnosis. Then, all members of the party can think of the next step forward. It also helps if you are able to come up with different methods of explaining the results. As the therapist, your first instinct is using terms such as standard deviation and normal curve automatically (thanks to many years of school and clinical work). However, clients and parents may not understand that right away. Many terms that people in healthcare use, other people will not understand. When announcing the results, they may be more confused and possibly frustrated with the results. With finding different ways to explain the results, you can be able to find a method that the client and parents will understand. Overall, you want to make your clients and parents have a better understanding of everything that was talked about during the session.

    It is extremely important to know how to communicate mental health assessment results to clients. Mental health started out very stigmatized. If you had something “wrong” with you mentally, you were considered an outcast. Luckily the sigma has slowly started dying down but it is still there. Hearing that you may have a mental disorder could be terrifying to a client. As a therapist, it is your job for you to make your client as comfortable as possible with their diagnosis. When hearing the results, a client may not know what to think. It is important to make sure you explain the results to a client in a way they will understand. As stated before, they might be in a state of panic. You should be able to ease their tensions and help them with the next possible step.

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    • Abby Sproles
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:47:17

      Hi Ashley, your last point about reducing the stigma for mental health made me think about the importance of effectively communicating assessment results to marginalized communities. Many communities have faced discrimination within the health care system which may lead to a distrust in psychotherapy. It is our responsibility as therapists to regain their trust as we need to decrease the burden of mental illness. If we can communicate results in a way that the client understands and feels validated, we may be able to increase retention and trust in mental health services.

      Reply

  11. Megan VanDyke
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:42:22

    When communicating results to clients, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the content you are reporting, use language that makes sense to the general public, and present the results as a probability, not a certainty. When reporting the results, it is crucial to have good background knowledge on the subject so that the counselor can correctly answer the client’s questions and the information provided is updated and accurate. For example, answering a client’s question with “I don’t know” may seem unprofessional to them. It is also essential to refrain from using terms the client may not understand, such as standard deviation. For example, when a therapist communicates that a client’s results are in the 50th percentile, some clients may believe they failed the assessment. However, the 50th percentile means their score falls in line with the average of the sample. Furthermore, it is important to phrase the interpretation as a probability over a certainty to communicate that the proper treatment can change the direction of the assessed item and that it is not necessarily lifelong. It is also important to remember that the same rules apply when communicating results to parents, but to communicate strengths over barriers as some parents struggle to cope with the idea that their child has a disorder.

    Including clients and parents in communicating mental health assessment results are vital to the counseling process. Breaking the information down so it is more comprehensive, normalizes the disorder, and emphasizes that help is readily available. Additionally, communicating with a sense of compassion and sensitivity may help the client feel validated and listened to and may increase trust toward the counselor. Finally, including clients in the conversation provides a sense of control on their end when mutually agreeing on a path to direct the treatment plan.

    Reply

    • Wendy Fernandes
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 11:06:31

      Hi Megan! When I first read your line about not saying “I don’t know”, I thought to myself that it is not possible to know about everything. But the more I thought about it I think that you are correct, and those words should be used sparingly. From a knowledge perspective, in the counselor/client relationship we are the experts and should be able to answer most questions about the specific affliction. Even with questions such as “Will they get better?” (where the answer is most likely “I don’t know”), it is better to frame the answer with strategies that will assist in the prognosis. Also, your last sentence about including the client is important. I imagine that when communicating results we will be doing most of the talking and it is important that we do our best to make sure the client understands what we are trying to convey.

      Reply

    • Ashley Millett
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 09:15:32

      Hi Megan,

      I really like how you made examples to back up your points. It was able to give me a better understanding of what you were trying to make. I agree that it is important to use language that makes sense to the general public. I feel that as future therapists, we may be prone to use the language we have been taught for so many years. Sometimes, therapists may forget who they are talking to. Some of the general public may have no idea what you’re talking about. Along with heightened emotions, they will get more irritated when using “professional terms.” I also agree with what you said about breaking down the information of the results for clients and parents. I feel that this is the most important thing to do when communicating results. As a therapist, you want to be able to make the client as comfortable as possible when hearing the results. When you are able to communicate in a language they are familiar with, it may help ease some nerves.

      Reply

  12. Whitney Andrew
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 09:49:38

    The hot topic of result communication this week had a few points that really stuck out to me. One thing that really caught my attention was to communicate the percentile immediately followed by the interpretation of results. I remember talking about this in class as well, pointing to the interpretation being crucial so that clients (or a client’s parents) cannot interpret neutral or positive results as negative or vice-versa. Performing the interpretation together also opens up the opportunity to directly talk about questions surrounding the results and prevents spiraling with the results. Another important and relevant piece of information for communicating results to clients is to not present them as infallible predictions. Though it is something that I think most of us aspiring helpers already know, I found it important to be written out and brought to our consciousness. The certainty approach of results cannot actually be 100% certain as clients are individuals that vary in outcome with results.
    It is important for how you communicate the results and what you are presenting because it can influence the client’s interpretation of the results. Many individuals have not been exposed to many psychological tests so the counselor is the source of interpretation. If the counselor leaves out any information or does it incorrectly then the client will also interpret results wrong. The importance of the how and why is to set up the client to be prepared and better equipped for how they want to precede with coping with the results.

    Reply

    • Rena Yaghmour
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 15:08:15

      Hi Whitney,
      Communication is a major key especially in this field. The one thing that also stuck with me was the way to communicate percentile with an explanation directly after. I feel like If I were in their shoes and I didn’t know what percentages and percentiles really meant I would also be confused on what my results meant. With that being said, that’s why I think being able to explain clearly and in a way the other party understands is very important. we as counselors should never let our clients or parents leave with any sort of confusion or worry and should make sure they are well educated on everything that has come up when it comes to assessments and results.

      Reply

    • Gitte Lenaerts
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 12:37:25

      Hi Whitney, Your explanation of communicating percentiles into the interpretation of results is incredibly important. Most people may not understand the language that we use and learn on understanding results. So explaining the client’s results to them in different forms can help the client better understand. You also shared how therapists should not present results as infallible predictions. I also expressed this guideline in my discussion post, as it is so important to give the results in a probable way rather than an infinite way. We can never be completely certain, as we interrupt results and what clients share with us. Additionally, putting a label on a client has both pros and cons as clients are able to grow and utilize treatment. This goes into the importance of communicating the results in an empathic yet professional way, as it can influence the client’s interpretation of the results. You brought up important factors, great job!

      Reply

  13. rena yaghmour
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 12:39:19

    We as counselors need to be able to communicate results clearly and accurately as we have the most knowledge compared to someone who isn’t in the field. Not being able to communicate results in a way families or clients are able to understand can cause them to either be confused or worried. As counselors, we must also be educated in the assessment and have answers to whatever may come up because as we communicate these results to the test takers, they may have questions to which we must know the answers to. Being able to help them understand while using appropriate terms is also important because they most likely will not know logistical terms. For example, telling a client they score in the 50th percentile may have the client interpret it differently than scoring within the average mark. Clients and parents should be confident in their counselor and depend on them to give them the most accurate and understandable explanation to their results.

    Communicating the “what” and “how” is important because again, everyone understands everything differently and most importantly most clients and parents aren’t as educated in these assessments the way counselors are. Being able to educate them about the assessment and their results will alleviate any worry or confusion they might have had and turn these feelings into more positive ones, also leaving them to be more confident in their results and the meaning around it.

    Reply

    • mikayladebois
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 14:44:48

      Hi Rena, I like your notion about the counselor being the more educated party when it comes to these assessments. If we assume that the people we are talking with have the same knowledge as we do, we won’t take the time to explain the basic pieces and they might be left to make some uninformed decisions. We need to make sure their interpretations of the scores are at least accurate, if not as in-depth as our understandings are.

      Reply

    • Emily Forde
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 15:30:24

      Hi Rena! I like how you explained that therapists have the most knowledge “as compared to someone who isn’t in the field”. Although this point may seem obvious to therapists, I feel like this is a great reminder to therapists that the assessment needs to be conducted and shared in a different manner when speaking to the client. If, for example, the client was a doctor, do you feel it would be effective for the therapist to explain the results using medical terms or explanations? In general, do you feel that the therapist should change how they explain results based off the knowledge basis of the client? I think that is super important when sharing assessment results in order to ensure that the client is fully understanding the results in a way that is simple for them to understand. I also really like your point about being able to educate the client leading to more positive feelings, rather then negative ones.

      Reply

    • Gitte Lenaerts
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 12:17:59

      Hi Rena, You shared some good points in your discussion regarding communicating results to clients. You mentioned that as counselors we should be educated in the assessment to explain questions and answer accordingly. If counselors do not understand the assessment or have never used the assessment before without doing research, this can create many negative issues for the client and the therapist. Such as not receiving the proper treatment or even diagnosis can lead to poor treatment outcomes. Furthermore, you mentioned how clients and parents should be confident in their counselor to accurately explain the results. As therapists, we need to be there for the client and parents to help them through this process and to receive the help they deserve. Educating clients on the assessment and the meaning of the results is one of the most important parts of this process. Great post!

      Reply

  14. Gitte Lenaerts
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 14:07:19

    Before reading this chapter, I didn’t realize how much goes into communication results to clients. I always imagined explaining clients’ results in an easy-to-understand way and not thinking too deeply about how to explain the results. Reading this chapter made me more aware of all the topics to think about while explaining results. One guideline that stood out to me was therapists should involve clients in the interpretations. I realize how important this actually is for not only the client but for the therapeutic relationship. Therapists should involve the client when explaining results, so the client has a better understanding of their scores and what this means for them. Additionally, using probabilities rather than certainties stuck out to me as well. When explaining results to clients, using terms like percentages (not to be confused with percentiles) can explain the information better to the client. As well as providing more clarity around the subject matter. Probabilities also make it seem like there can be room for change and improvement rather than saying it is certain you have depression for the rest of your life.

    It is important to use these techniques with communicating mental health assessment results to clients as it can be challenging for an individual to hear and understand if they were diagnosed with a disorder and especially one they have never heard about. Therapists should be cognizant of communicating their results to clients as this could affect an individual in numerous ways and can even add to their mental health. Remaining empathic and compassionate but also being informative may alleviate the client’s feelings. This will also help the client understand more about their diagnosis. Explaining the results in an appropriate way for the client is vital as well. If the client does not understand what the results actually indicate, it can negatively affect their treatment. Having it be a collaborative process between the client and therapist can make it seem less isolating and rather have it be more of a stepping stool for growth. This also allows room to build trust between the client and the therapist. Which in turn, can create a more effective treatment process.

    Reply

    • Emily Forde
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 15:36:34

      Hi Gitte! I agree that I did not realize how much really goes into communicating results to clients. I also agree that using probabilities rather than certainties is important for helping the client to understand. Do you feel like there is ever a time where certainties are more effective in making the client understand their results (for example, if someone was very mathematically advanced or something like that). I also really like the point you made about remaining empathetic and compassionate towards the client, which I feel is so important throughout the therapeutic relationship but especially in a difficult time such as diagnosis or when sharing assessment results.

      Reply

    • Magdalen Paul
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 21:22:09

      Hey Gitte! I really liked your point about accurately and therapeutically communicating results to clients because it may be challenging to hear and they may have never heard of the diagnosis. I think it’s crucial that we as future clinicians remember that not everyone will be as “well-read” in mental health terminology as we will be. Particular mental health terms, especially diagnoses, will likely feel commonplace to us, especially after studying these topics in depth over the coming semesters. Thus, we cannot assume that our clients will also know the ins and outs of the diagnoses and concepts we propose to them. But, knowing that we will need to thoroughly explain such concepts with future clients, I think, will push us to work even harder as students in preparation of licensure. We want to be the most competent therapists we can be so that our clients get the best treatment possible.

      Reply

    • Brenna Stewart
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 23:12:23

      Hi Gitte!

      Before reading this chapter/referencing the lecture slides, I had a pretty simple understanding of communicating results/didn’t fully realize how much went into it, either. Reading about communicating with the approach of probability rather than certainty really stood out to me as well, as it’s not something that really ever crossed my mind before diving into it this chapter. I feel it’s a great example in regards to “how” we communicate results, and the importance of that. It could be the difference in your client feeling open-minded and motivated to continue and/or believe in the therapeutic process, and feeling the complete opposite if they are under the impression that their scores are infallible. I enjoyed your response, thanks for sharing and for your transparency!

      Reply

  15. Emily Forde
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 15:24:41

    When communicating test results to clients, interpreting the results to the clients rather than simply stating them stuck out to me as a relevant point. This is important because individuals who have test interpretation were more than two thirds higher on the outcome measures, meaning that they had a better outcome likely as a result of the interpretation. I also found it relevant that counselors need to have several different ways to explain the results to the clients. This ensures that the client leaves understanding their results and how these results influence them. This reminds me of the concept of informed consent and how the professional obtaining the informed consent needs to change the language they use and needs to often utilize several methods to ensure the patient or client is giving informed consent, rather than just consent.
    It is important how the counselor communicates mental health assessment results to clients because it can be a sensitive topic and the client may feel offended or hurt if the therapist shares results in an insincere or monotone way. It is also important because the therapist needs to convey these results correctly in order for the client to have an accurate portrayal of what is going on and how these results are going to effect them.

    Reply

    • Magdalen Paul
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 21:36:43

      Hi Emily! I liked your comparison of effectively communicating assessment results with obtaining informed consent. This is a comparison I would not have thought of! When obtaining informed consent, I totally agree that we may likely have to adjust our communication style and speech to effectively obtain “true” informed consent. Each client may require different levels of elaboration or conveying to understand what we mean by informed consent. The concept of informed consent is not something we should expect every client to simply “know.” But nonetheless, it is extremely important that a client understands it before “giving” it. Similarly, when explaining assessment results, we should not assume that clients are already well-versed in the terminology and/or implications. Clients should always have an honest understanding of what their treatment and sessions are involving. We ought to be as transparent and clear with clients as possible.

      Reply

    • Grace Ling
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 02:09:22

      Hi Emily,
      I like the point you made regarding informed consent. I also want to add that depending on the demographic you’re working with, some clients may be in underserved populations so explaining the results in different ways will allow for a better understanding. You want to be sure that the client understands the importance of their results and how it can help them in the future.

      Reply

    • Maria Nowak
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:39:34

      Hi Emily!
      I agree, interpreting the results rather than just stating them is significant when communicating the results to the client. This will ensure the therapist is hitting on each result of the assessment and explaining how it is relevant to them. I also believe it is important to explain it in a simplistic way. This will leave less room for confusion and likely be less intimidating for the client to ask questions about their results.

      Reply

    • Megan VanDyke
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 18:52:18

      Hi, Emily! I agree that interpretation is critical when communicating assessment results to clients or parents. If the counselor uses complex language and mathematical terms, the results might not hold as much meaning. Your example using informed consent is a perfect comparison. If someone wanted to participate in a study but did not fully understand what the study entails, then the data collected may not be accurate. Similarly, if the client does not understand the assessment results, the treatment plan may not be as effective.

      Reply

  16. Magdalen Paul
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 21:10:30

    There are a variety of factors to consider when communicating assessment results to clients or parents. One point that really stuck out to me was that you should put in every effort not to “pigeon-hole” clients. Offering tentative explanations can help with this, and therefore we must be mindful of our wording. It’s important not to convey results as absolute, but rather view assessment scores as imperfect and malleable to therapy. This “pigeon-holing” can work against clients, because hearing “You are x, y or z” in a definitive manner can potentially make a client immediately believe that that is who they are, and it cannot be changed. This might cause a client to lose hope in the potential for change. Further, this style of interpretation could lead a client to engage in the self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas hearing from a professional that they are “x” may cause the client to act and/or think in ways that align with that self-view/belief, ultimately shaping that client closer and closer into what they were told they were and/or had. Another factor regarding communicating assessment results that I found relevant was that there is no “one size fits all” method. When giving clients feedback, you will likely have to adapt your communication style to fit their needs, abilities, and so on. Some techniques and conversation styles with work better depending on the client. An adult client working in law may appreciate the use of “fancy” and technical terminology, while a teen client may not resonate with this use of language. Adapting your speech style to each unique client is key to establishing rapport.

    The “what” and “how” around communicating mental health assessment results to clients are crucial to building rapport and strengthening the therapeutic relationship. It is important to describe the “what” as tentative and in context of other useful information. For example, rather than telling a client that the assessment results are a direct result of the paper-and-pencil test, you can suggest that the results stem from the combined information you as a clinician have gathered—from the assessment results to specific conversations and observations of the client, and so on. Therefore, it is important that “how” you communicate the “what” is done in context of more than just the assessment itself. The client should gain a holistic view of how you reached your interpretation and/or diagnosis/conclusion. Further, it is important to have a firm enough knowledge around the assessment used so that you can accurately describe the “what” in context of the assessment, including potential limitations and implications.

    Reply

    • Brenna Stewart
      Sep 28, 2022 @ 22:37:15

      Hey Magdalen,

      I found your response super insightful. I agree that the client should gain a holistic view of the interpretation of their results, as a typically successful/effective interpretation is a combination of factors. It also makes a lot of sense how you described the connection between the “what” and “how” of communicating results and how both are important on their own and together. Rapport is an essential building block to effectively communicating results, but having a solid knowledge of the administered assessment and having a baseline of the skills to interpret its results is important.

      Reply

  17. Taylor Poland
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 22:44:16

    A few points stood out to me as I was reading through the section titled Guidelines for Communicating Results to Parents. One point that caught my attention was the importance of reframing with the parents. When a child receives a diagnosis, it is really hard on all members of the family- they may feel guilt or upset that they could not prevent this from happening. In situations like these, it is important for the counselors to reframe the situation. The counselor can help the parents focus on the child’s abilities, not just the disabilities. A personal example of focusing on abilities involves my family. My brother was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD when he was 9 years old which directly affected his academic performance in school. My parents did a great job of celebrating my brother’s academic accomplishments instead of punishing him or looking down on him for receiving a poor grade. They understood that school was a challenge for him, so by acknowledging his hard work and effort, my brother did not feel as bad about it. Another part of the text that stood out to me was the importance of monitoring the parent’s responses to their child’s diagnosis. When children witness their parents thinking negatively about them or the diagnosis, the child may begin to internalize the negative reactions. Working with children has always been a fear of mine for this exact reason- you not only have to worry about the client (the child), but you must also work with the parent.
    As future clinicians, the way we deliver mental health assessment results is crucial. The textbook did a good job pointing out the importance of having many different methods of explaining the results. If a client is not understanding one of the methods, it is good to have other alternatives as backups. One must use language the client will understand and use descriptive terms rather than numerical scores.

    Reply

    • Grace Ling
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 02:03:16

      Hi Taylor,
      Thank you for sharing about your brother. I think your point about reframing is a vital part in making clients not feel as though they are not adequate. I did want to point out that even though there is no judgment on the side of the administrator or the assessment itself, clients can often feel like they are not good enough because they focus on what they perceive to be negative.

      Reply

    • Esther Konadu
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 12:34:11

      Hi Taylor,

      Your example about your brother is so touching! It goes to show that parents who are calm and understand their child’s diagnosis can help the child feel heard and valued. I think your point also goes beyond this context. Even in other areas of life for a child (like school or physical health), having a knowledgeable support system at home changes the outcomes. It may not resolve a particular problem overnight, but at least there are people there to rely on.

      Reply

    • Vic White
      Oct 01, 2022 @ 20:09:33

      Hi Taylor,

      Your example of your brother and parents was lovely to read and a perfect example of celebrating someone’s abilities and not just focusing on the disabilities. I like that you highlighted that it is hard on all the family when someone receives a diagnosis and it affects everyone, and how important it is to reframe the situation to reflect this.

      I also like how you mentioned about children noticing negative reactions and internalising them! I think sometimes it is easy to forget or overlook how observant children are and how much they learn from observing, so something like facial reactions they are sure to pick up on!

      Reply

  18. Brenna Stewart
    Sep 28, 2022 @ 23:01:55

    One point that really stuck out to me as relevant in communicating results is about keeping our expectations realistic and/or keeping an open mind and approach when communicating results to parents. This stood out to me because I’ve had some experience in the field for a few years post-undergrad where I worked with children and parents in a therapeutic setting and the way you approach and hold space for parents is essential not only to them but to their children as they continue in their therapeutic process. I believe this is a skill that is imperative to practice repeatedly. Keeping empathy and openness at the forefront is key in supporting parents through their own processing of the information which in turn will support in their children’s therapeutic process.

    Reading and listening about how assessment IS therapy, and not just an activity done in isolation but rather used as one of many factors in the therapeutic process was interesting and important to keep in mind. As discussed in the book and lectures, assessment can serve as a solid starting point in the therapeutic process and is a good way to establish rapport with your client. Having a therapeutic relationship with your client is essential in effectively providing interpretation of results and therefore working collaboratively to create a treatment outlook.

    What and how results are communicated is highly important because it not only gives the client a basic understanding of what the assessment is measuring, but it also gives them insight into how it is applicable to them and how it could potentially benefit them therapeutically. A therapist’s approach should entail one of openness and hope, while remaining practical and knowledgeable in their delivery of results. It is important to reassure the client that assessment results are malleable throughout the therapeutic process. “What” we communicate is important as it should pertain to the symptoms/experience of the client so their treatment can continue to be individualized moving forward.

    Reply

    • Chandal Powell
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 00:12:25

      Hi Brenna,
      I really like how you highlighted the importance of keeping our expectations realistic and/or keeping an open mindset when communicating assessment results to parents in particular. I agree that it’s absolutely imperative that we keep an open mind along with empathy when supporting parents as they process information regarding assessment results. Parents play such an integral role in their children’s lives and at times assessment results are more difficult for them to process and accept because of their expectations and the perception of potential implications of those results.

      Reply

  19. Grace Ling
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 01:57:53

    Something that immediately stuck out to me was using numerical descriptors rather than verbal descriptors (85% instead of high probabilities). I realize that it can be very subjective to clients to hear that they may or may not score high/low on an assessment. Using a number can give clients a more concrete idea of how they scored. Another point that stood out to me was noting client reactions at the beginning of the assessments. I think taking assessments can make clients feel like test subjects where it can feel impersonal where we are just taking down information about them. This allows for more collaboration to occur and opens up the client to talk more about the experience and make the assessment more integrative into the therapeutic experience.

    Effectively communicating results to clients, or parents, is important because clients can sometimes misinterpret the results. In the textbook, the author recounts a client being upset that they scored in the 50th percentile of a math section. The client interpreted this as only scoring half of the items correctly rather than being within the average of everyone who took the exam. Additionally, interpreting results is also important because these results should be integrated into the therapeutic process. For example, some personality assessment results can be therapeutic because clients are able to understand a little bit more about themselves.

    Reply

    • Esther Konadu
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 12:43:39

      Hi Grace,

      Thanks for bringing up numerical versus verbal descriptors! As humans, it is much easier to understand big concepts in terms of numbers, especially when words do not seem to cut it. In terms of assessments, seeing and hearing a certain percentage (and an explanation of what that means) can make it more digestible. There is often room for fear about the things we do not understand. And as future helpers, it is our job to make the room of fear a bit smaller.

      Reply

    • Maria Nowak
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:30:44

      Hi Grace!
      I also believe that giving numerical descriptors rather than verbal descriptors will allow the client to understand their results better. If someone is hearing a percentage rather than using words such as “less likely” or “more likely,” it is giving them a more direct interpretation of the results. I also believe it is important to further describe the numerical values and explain them in a simplistic way. For example, instead of saying that someone is in the 50th percentile, it would be more effective to say that they scored better on the instrument than 50 out of 100 people who took the same assessment.

      Reply

  20. Vic White
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 10:54:51

    When communicating results to clients/parents it is important that they are communicated effectively because it can be mis-understood. An example of results being misunderstood would be confusing the percentile with the percentage. E.g., 50th percentile does not mean you only got 50% of the questions correct, rather that you scored in the middle of the group, with half the people scoring above and half scoring below your score. It needs to be a positive experience so that it can help clients to create positive change. A point that did stick out to me was how knowledgeable the counsellor needs to be regarding the instrument and what the client’s results mean, this is so when it comes to communicating with the client, the focus can be on the client and any questions they may have. Having multiple methods of explaining the results is beneficial because it is fair to assume that some clients will not be familiar with standard deviations, percentiles and normal distribution curves, so involving visual aids may help people to understand better.

    Its is important in what and how we communicate results because we do not want to cause confusion or any negative reactions. Using descriptive, nontechnical terms rather than numerical scores may prove helpful as not everybody understands numbers and the psychometrics terms that are attached to them. It also needs to be an encouraging environment for clients to feel able to ask questions, so they are not leaving confused.A summary of the results at the end of the conversation should be provided so the important points can be reiterated and provides another chance for clients to ask questions.

    Reply

    • Taylor Poland
      Sep 29, 2022 @ 15:27:31

      Hi Vic,
      I am so glad you pointed out how easily information can be misunderstood when providing results with percentiles. Up until a few years ago, I also thought that the 50th percentile was equivalent to 50% of the questions being correct. According to the text, studies have shown that providing results with descriptive terms are better received than numerical scores. Clinicians should take this into consideration when communicating one’s results. The clinician should say what percentile the client placed in, but then immediately follow that with a description in understandable language.

      Reply

  21. Chandal Powell
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 12:56:21

    A few points that stood out to me about communicating results are; the fact that there is limited research on the most effective methods of communicating assessment results, needing to have multiple ways prepared to explain results to clients and how much behind the scenes work is needed to prepare for clients. Seeing how important communicating assessment results is to fostering a positive therapeutic relationship it is surprising that more research has not been done to aid in finding the most effective methods of communicating these results to clients. Especially with the limited research tentatively highlighting that clients appear to have greater gains in counseling when assessment results are effectively communicated to them. Additionally, I did not realize that counselors would need to have multiple ways prepared to explain results to clients. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense as clients are in fact individuals who have differences. Therefore, counselors will need to adjust for those differences in processing information, levels of education and familiarity with psychometric terminology. This underlines how much is involved in counseling a client and the importance of selecting and administering the correct assessment for each client. These are all important as the ultimate goal is to establish a good rapport with clients which in turn can foster a positive therapeutic relationship that will aid the client in meeting their treatment goals.

    The “what” and “how” in which counselors communicate assessment results to clients are especially important because this will facilitate the client understanding what the assessment results mean. A better understanding of one’s score could lead to better results throughout the entire therapeutic process. As it relates to parents of minor clients the “what” and “how” are extremely important because studies show that children when given a choice are more receptive to assessment results when received from their parents. If parents are then provided with incorrect information or even lacks clarity on the results, they will provide inaccurate information/interpretation to their child. This can inevitably disrupt the child’s treatment, as it could lead to the child thinking less of themselves. Also, the child might not be willing to take part in establishing a positive therapeutic relationship with the counselor. Without this relationship it might be difficult to have effective therapy.

    Reply

  22. Alysha Benoit
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 14:56:13

    1. There are a variety of important things to remember when communicating results to clients. One of these points that stuck out to me as being very relevant was intertwining the scores or results into a process of the therapeutic relationship. Naming or listing off results of an assessment to a client can come off as being very robotic and unauthentic. Rapport is extremely important to having that strong therapeutic relationship and connection so making sure to integrate the findings of an assessment into the therapy and treatment interventions is key. Communicating results to clients in itself, can be a “therapeutic process” and is also sometimes considered the most important aspect of therapy sessions. Another important point I came across within the text is that a counselor should be knowledgeable in providing multiple explanations of results to their clients. I thought this was important because of course, every individual client is different and may need to hear a different type of explanation of their results or scores of an assessment to actually understand them. To reiterate, this should also be done in a collaborative style to increase the therapeutic relationship quality.

    2. “What” and “how” you communicate mental health assessments to clients is extremely important because it has a direct effect on the behavior of the client within the therapeutic relationship/therapy session but also what the client may do outside of the session as well. If assessment results are explained in a way that is genuine, not condescending, and understandable to the client then they will likely be willing to keep participating in a treatment and also trust their counselor. Another reason “what” and “how” you communicate to a client is important circles back to the responsibility of the counselor. Therapists have a vital responsibility in not only communicating assessment results to clients but also doing so in a way that demonstrates they understand the test and results themselves. However, it is also important to not use overly “fancy” words in communicating as it can be difficult for clients to understand what you are explaining to them. For example, it could be potentially harmful to the client if a therapist administers, scores, and communicates results that they may not be knowledgeable about and could also severely impact the therapeutic relationship, treatment interventions, and willingness of the client to accept help.

    Reply

    • Ariannah Zagabe
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 01:43:25

      Hi Alysha,

      I agree how you communicate results of mental health assessments to clients can influence the relationship between you and your clients. Not only is it important that the client understands the results but that the results are given/explained in an empathetic, honest and, as you stated, in a non-condescending way.

      Reply

  23. Maria Nowak
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:21:44

    When communicating results to clients or parents there are several points that are significant in assuring they are communicated effectively. First, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the results and plan on how it will be best to communicate it to the client. For example, if results need to be communicated to a child, they have to be communicated in a way the child will understand. The terminology used needs to be simple and presented in a manner that the child will not feel bad about their results. Second, it is important to use descriptive terms rather than numerical scores. Instead of explaining results and saying that someone is in the 75th percentile, it should be said that out of 100 people, you scored better than 75 of them on this instrument. Lastly, a summary of the results and important factors at the end is necessary in ensuring the client understands their results completely. This also gives another opportunity for the client to ask any questions.

    The “what” and “how” you communicate mental health assessment results to clients is significant because the information given to them should be to the point and how you explain it to them needs to be in a way they will fully comprehend the results. When you are communicating the results, “what” you are communicating should be only relevant information based on the clients results. If the therapist is going off topic and not getting to the point, it will likely frustrate the client. In terms of the “how,” it is best to discuss results in the most simplistic form. This will help ensure the client is able to understand their results and will likely be less intimidated to ask questions.

    Reply

    • Ariannah Zagabe
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 01:42:16

      Hi Maria,

      I agree, having a complete and thorough understanding of the assessment results is crucial. It is important to do this to be able to present the results in a way that the client can comprehend. If a practitioner were to use their professional terminology, it would most likely leave their client unsure of what their results mean.

      Reply

    • Vic White
      Oct 01, 2022 @ 20:16:37

      Hi Maria,

      I really liked your explanation involving communicating with a child and how you should adapt your language. I also liked how you rephrased the 75 percentile to a fully description explanation and inserting other numbers to make it easier to understand.

      You made a great point about when communicating with the client, for the therapist to ensure they are staying on topic so they aren’t causing frustration, I think it may also be confusing and hard for the client to follow if the therapist is not clear and concise.

      Reply

  24. Becca Bouchee
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:22:01

    I liked how the book mentioned that when communicating results to clients that you should include descriptive terms rather than numerical scores. There is a big emphasis on explaining the assessment, the results, and the meaning/ implication of the results appropriately to the client to provide them with the most information about what the results mean for them. However, most individuals don’t understand statistics, normal curves, percentiles, etc. and so just giving the numerical scores for the assessment can be very confusing or just plain un-informative. For example, if you had given a client the PHQ-9 and you tell them they scored a 10, the client is going to have no idea what that means. However, telling them that a score of 10 places them in the realm of experiencing moderate depression, as the scale of moderate ranges from 10-14, but that if they had scored a 9 they would be considered to experience mild depression, would be a much more informative answer. Now the client understands what their score means, how severely depressed they are considered to be, and where their moderate score lies in comparison to mild or severe depression.
    I also really liked that the book mentions telling your clients in non-technical terms any limitations of the assessment. It is important for an individual to know that if they scored in a very high percentile for anxiety on a test with very low validity that their results are not to be taken extremely seriously. Or, if the norming group for an assessment was very different from the client you used it to assess in gender, age, ethnicity, race, etc. that should also be mentioned because once again, the results of the assessment at that point should not be held in high regard.
    It is so important in how you communicate mental health results to clients and what you tell them about the results because the information given to clients can determine their self-image, their hope levels, and their commitment level to their therapeutic treatment. A well-informed client who has been given a well-rounded report of their assessment will have more knowledge of their own situation, and will be more likely to work with their therapist to make amends where they are needed.

    Reply

    • Chandal Powell
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 00:25:03

      Hi Becca,
      I also believe it’s important how you communicate mental health assessment results to clients. Clients expect their counselors to know what they are doing and place a lot of trust that they are being provided accurate information. If provided incorrect or inadequate information this can have an adverse effect on their self image, levels of hope and establishing a positive therapeutic relationship with their counselor. I especially love your last statement because it is absolutely true. A well informed client will feel that they have input in their treatment and will be more likely to collaboratively work with their counselor to achieve their treatment goals.

      Reply

    • Stephanie Lugo
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 11:41:16

      Hi Becca,

      I agree with you that the point about using descriptive terms instead of numerical statistics to explain the results to the client is incredibly important and relevant. If we start using statistics and statistical terms to explain the assessment results to the clients there will most likely be some confusion between both parties. We as counselors need to understand that just because we know the topic we are explaining it does not mean the client does. We need to find ways to explain and express the issues at hand so the client feels comfortable and fully understands what we are expressing.

      You also made a great point about how culture, gender, age, ethnicity, race, etc play a huge role in how we need to explain the results of the assessments to our clients. What we view as one way to explain something may mean something totally different to our client. That is why it is important that we pay close attention to the client’s body language and facial expressions. If they look confused we must encourage them to ask questions and try and clearly explain the topic so they will be able to understand.

      Great Post!

      Reply

  25. Ariannah Zagabe
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 16:25:20

    A point that stood out to me was about preparing clients for feedback/explaining the reason for the assessment. This is important because the client needs to know (and most likely wants to know) the reason the assessment is being administered. This also helps with transparency and forming a sense of trust with your client. In the section about communicating results to clients, what stood out to me was the point about how assessment results should not be a discrete activity but intertwined with the counseling. This is relevant because you use the results as a way to figure out what needs to be worked on. You don’t just give them the results but rather explain the results and work with your client to use the assessment results as a guide of what you need to aim for during treatment.

    The “what” and “how” in how you communicate mental health results to clients is important. It’s important that your client knows exactly what was being assessed and the reason why. Making sure you are explaining the results in a generalized way is also important, ensuring you’re using terms that the client will be able to understand. It is also important that your client knows what kind of approach you want to take when moving further with treatment. As I stated in the previous paragraph, this kind of transparency can help strengthen your relationship with your client.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Lugo
      Sep 30, 2022 @ 11:22:51

      Hi Ariannah,

      I agree that the point you chose about preparing clients for feedback/explaining the reason for the assessment is a very important and extremely relevant point. As a counselor or any medical professional, you need to prepare your client for the results of any test especially if it is a negative assessment result. You need to know how to explain certain assessments and know a lot about the topic you are explaining. Preparing the client beforehand and expressing that there are options for treatments (even if they are limited) shows the client that there is hope for whatever disorder or disability they may have.

      I also believe that as a counselor we must make the client comfortable and explain their results in a way that still involves counseling. After explaining negative results or really any results in general the client will probably have multiple questions and may want guidance on what they should do. As a counselor, we need to provide this support and explain everything they want/need to know in great detail. We as counselors need to find ways to work with our clients throughout the entire assessment and counseling process. If we do not do this we will not have a good connection with our clients and our counseling sessions will never end up working out.

      You made a great point about making sure we use terms the client will understand instead of large and complicated medical/statistical terms. I also chose this as one of my relevant points because if you do not use terms that the client can understand they will be lost and confused through the entire conversation. I also believe it is incredibly important to use visuals and pamphlets when communicating with the client about the results or their possible disorder. The visuals and information pamphlets will allow them to better see and understand what the counselor is talking about.

      Great Post!

      Reply

    • Alysha Benoit
      Oct 02, 2022 @ 00:22:12

      Hi Ariannah, I like how you described the importance of transparency with a client. I think this is so important in relation to what and how you communicate to them. Maintaining transparency helps the client understand the initial point to administering an assessment and also gives a solid foundation in the therapeutic relationship through trust. If a client has a good understanding of how an assessment works, why they may need to take it, and the importance of the results, they will most likely be more inclined to progress and trust the process in therapy.

      Reply

  26. Stephanie Lugo
    Sep 29, 2022 @ 20:12:44

    While all of the points mentioned in the part about guidelines for communicating results to clients are all interesting and of course very relevant, there were a few that stuck out to me. The first point that really stuck out as relevant to me was the point about knowing how to explain complicated medical responses to clients and their families in a simple way. Most of our clients are not going to understand medical or statistical terms like the mean, mode, standard deviation, normal curves, etc. We as counselors need to make sure we speak in a way that a client can understand. If we don’t explain the terms in a simple manner we have the possibility of confusing the client or miscommunicating with them. I think this point is so incredibly important because you want your client to understand the assessment results and possible disorders they may have. If the client is unable to understand what you are discussing with them they may feel lost. Miscommunication among counselors and clients happen very often and can lead to many issues when continuing with counseling.
    Another point that I believe is extremely relevant was the point about the importance of including the client in the process; especially during the interpretation stage of the discussion. This point is especially important as a counselor because you want your client to feel heard and involved when it comes to their own health. Involving the client in the entire process, especially when it comes to the interpretation aspect allows them to have a say in what the tests and assessments are explaining. Nobody knows the client better than they know themselves. Also when the client is involved in the interpretation aspect of the assessment they are able to answer questions that will better allow you to understand what exactly is happening in their lives. I also think that involving the client and their families in the entire process allows them to make a better connection with that counselor. I believe that when a counselor involves the clients/family in the process it shows the counselor is trying to form more of a bond with them and hoping to get to know them and where they stand about the possible disorders they may have.
    The last point that I find very relevant is the point about summarizing the prior conversation that just occurred and making sure the client leaves the appointment completely informed about the assessment results. This is so important when it comes to discussing any type of medical information or results. Summarizing the entire conversation you just had with the client allows the client to ask their questions or ask for clarification. It also allows the counselor to make sure the client understands everything they told them and to make sure they covered all parts of the topic at hand.
    It is extremely important to know what and how you are communicating mental health assessment results to clients. The biggest reason why is because disorders in the mental health field and psychology, in general, have a habit of becoming very stigmatized. Very immature and uneducated people have a habit of assuming that if you have a mental health issue you are crazy. This of course is extremely inaccurate. While this stigma has decreased quite a lot in the past few years, it is still there. Of course, as a counselor, you need to not only know what you are going to communicate to your client but also be incredibly knowledgeable about the specific topic, assessment, or disorder you are explaining. The reason for this is that when you are explaining anything new to your client you need to be ready to answer multiple questions they might have about the specific topic. It is just as equally important how you communicate assessment results to your client because you need to make sure they fully understand what you are explaining. Also as the counselor, you need to make sure you make the client comfortable with you and their possible diagnosis. You also need to know how to comfort your client because your client may not know how to react when they are hearing the results, especially if the results are negative. Knowing how to communicate with the client and what you are communicating to them is so important for the client and counselor’s professional relationship.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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