Reducing Epistemic Tension: How Relational Cultural Theory Can Inform the Field of Therapeutic Assessment

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Hale Martin

Second Advisor

John Holmberg

Third Advisor

Emily Markley


Therapeutic assessment, Relational cultural theory, Epistemic trust, Multiculturalism


Therapeutic Assessment (TA), developed by Dr. Stephen Finn, is an approach to psychological assessment that prioritizes respect for clients, highlights the vital role of collaborative meaning-making, forwards a relational view of test administration and interpretation, and emphasizes the importance of helping clients come to terms with the root of their problems of daily living. Accordingly, the practice of Therapeutic Assessment places high value on the evaluator-client relationship and highlights the notion that no psychological test, and therefore no individual, can be interpreted or understood within a vacuum. With the recent resurgence in racist, anti-semitic, and xenophobic rhetoric thrust back into the American limelight, questions around issues of multiculturalism, diversity, equity, and inclusion have surfaced to the forefront of the field of clinical psychology, and more specifically, in the practice of psychological assessment. As practitioners of TA work towards implementing these considerations into the model, a valuable question arises: How might we strengthen the practice of TA so that it is effective and meaningful for all? This paper outlines the core tenants of TA, introduces the Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) lens in relation to psychological assessment, and outlines specific key aspects of RCT that can be utilized in making TA effective and meaningful for all.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


30 pgs

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