Investigating the mechanisms of therapeutic assessment with children : development of the parent experience of assessment scale (PEAS)
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Therapeutic Assessment (TA) is a hybrid of assessment and therapy techniques in which assessors actively collaborate with clients during an individualized assessment. TA is centered around client assessment questions and provides a safe environment where clients can create shifts in their ‘story’ of self. More specifically, TA with children and their parents has demonstrated more confident parenting and parents’ better understanding of their child’s difficulties, while children have shown decreased problem behaviors and improved social/emotional functioning. The theoretical framework behind TA emphasizes the importance of the interpersonal interactions between the assessor and client, such as the development of a strong assessor client relationship and collaboration. These interpersonal processes are conceptualized as catalysts for greater depth of parent investment in the assessment and deeper levels of feedback results. The need for greater parent involvement and partnership in child mental health services is increasingly recognized in the client/parent satisfaction literature. Parent feedback to child mental health services is most often acquired through satisfaction questionnaires. However, the satisfaction literature has well known limitations, specifically a lack of unifying theory and methodological issues in scale development. Parent satisfaction research indicates that interpersonal experiences are more related to satisfaction than outcomes or client characteristics, and that more psychometrically sound measures are needed. Currently, satisfaction surveys do not provide a detailed understanding of parents’ experiences to inform practice and research. The current study outlines the development of the Parent Experience of Assessment Scale (PEAS). The PEAS is anchored in the theoretical orientation of TA and provides a more quantifiable measure of hypothesized underlying TA constructs. Moreover, the development of the PEAS uses advanced statistical techniques, such as Confirmatory Factor Analysis and invariance testing, to provide a higher level of psychometric rigor. The resulting scale consists of 24 items divided among 5 subscales with demonstrated relationships to general satisfaction. Structural equation modeling provides insight via direct and indirect effects among the PEAS subscales and their relationship to general satisfaction. Through the development of the PEAS, this study provides empirical evidence and support for TA theory and a more nuanced understanding of parent experiences related to satisfaction.