Child and parent experiences of neuropsychological assessment as a function of child-centered feedback
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Research has paid little attention to clients’ experience of the psychological assessment process, particularly in regard to the experiences of children and their parents. Advocates of collaborative assessment have long espoused the therapeutic benefits of providing feedback that can help clients better understand themselves and improve their lives (Finn & Tonsager, 1992; Fischer, 1970, 1985/1994). Finn, Tharinger, and colleagues (2007; 2009) have extended a semi-structured form of collaborative assessment, Therapeutic Assessment (TA), with children. One important aspect of their method, drawn from Fischer’s (1985/1994) example, is the creation of individualized fables that incorporate assessment findings into a child-friendly format. The fables are then shared with the child and parents as assessment feedback. This study evaluated whether receiving this type of individualized, developmentally appropriate feedback would affect how children and their parents report experiencing the assessment process. The assessment process, with the exception of child feedback, was standard for the setting. Participants were 32 children who underwent a neuropsychological evaluation at a private outpatient clinic, along with their parents. Multivariate and univariate statistics were used to test differences between two groups: an experimental group that received individualized fables as child-focused feedback and a control group. Children in the experimental group reported a greater sense of learning about themselves, a more positive relationship with their assessor, a greater sense of collaboration with the assessment process, and a sense that their parents learned more about them because of the assessment than did children in the control group. Parents in the experimental group reported a more positive relationship between their child and the assessor, a greater sense of collaboration with the assessment process, and higher satisfaction with clinic services compared to the control group. Limitations to the study, implications for assessment practice with children, and future directions for research are discussed.