Psychological Assessment of Children in a Community Mental Health Clinic
published in Journal of Personality Assessment Volume 93, Issue 1
by Barbara L. Mercer, PsyD, WestCoast’s Assessment Program Director
Collaborative and Therapeutic Assessment (TA) models (Finn & Tonsager, 1997; Fischer, 1985/1994) use psychological tests to answer clientconstructed assessment questions in an understandable language, to be an intervention in and of themselves, and to initiate recommendations related to the referral. This article considers the application of Finn’s TA model to an urban community psychology clinic in Oakland, California, where foster and kinship care, the child welfare system, trauma, neglect, and attachment disruptions are children’s usual experience. These children hide their pain and complaints (Kelly, 1999), but show highly problematic behaviors to bewildered and frustrated caretakers, social workers, and school personnel. Their trauma, however, also often permeates the assessment data and shocks the assessor. A rationale is made for the necessity of a relational, culturally aware, systemic model in providing psychological assessment services to children and families in a community setting.