Asking for Help: Vulnerability Within Consultative Assessment—a Couples Therapy Example


Kelly Wade

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lupe Rebeka Samaniego

Second Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña

Third Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

Fourth Advisor

Diane Guerra


Self assessment, Interpersonal psychotherapy


In many different ways psychologists are challenged to evaluate their work and be accountable when therapy is not progressing. One time honored approach to addressing the lack of progress is to seek formal psychological assessment to gain a better diagnostic understanding as well as treatment recommendations. The perspective on the purpose of the assessment seems to have changed however. Historically, the presumption was that there was some kind of pathology that the clinician was not seeing, where currently the perspective seems to be shifting more towards a focus on what might not be working in the therapeutic process. This shift in focus has led to new styles of collaborative and consultative assessment such as Therapeutic Assessment. Therapeutic Assessment was developed by Stephen Finn and has shown a great deal of promise helping clients and therapists gain valuable insight and move toward meaningful life changes (1998). Amidst the promise of consultative assessment also lie potential challenges for the referring clinician. This paper will explore the nature of consultative relationships in the field of mental health and the current thoughts about the advantages and challenges of these relationships. Using a case study format, it will discuss and illustrate issues of professional vulnerability that can arise during these relationships and postulate that a similar vulnerability could be present during a consultative assessment. Recommendations are made for maximizing the success of this type of assessment, and ideas for future research are reviewed. Through the lens of a couples Therapeutic Assessment case, this paper will examine what it is about this unique kind of professional relationship that garners such powerful potential and pitfalls.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


40 pages

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