Ethical Issues And Future Directions

Lack of assessment competencies may result in the selection of ineffective and/or harmful intervention methods. It is thus incumbent on clinicians to use valid methods that are useful in selecting effective intervention plans. This may require training. There are great stakes in how problems are framed and considerable resources are devoted to influencing how people think about problems. Many problems once viewed as sins were then seen as crimes and more recently are considered to be mental disorders. Explanations influence how people are viewed. In past years, pathology was often attributed to housewives who wanted to work. Incorrect explanations of problems often harm clients. Knowledge about social, political, and economic factors that influence the very definition of personal and social problems will help clinicians to consider problems in their social context and decrease the likelihood of pathologizing clients.

A discussion of clinical assessment would not be complete without noting the increased attention given to evolutionary influences. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that humans are the result of a long evolutionary process and that we carry anatomical, physiological, and psychological characteristics related to this history. An evolutionary perspective adds a valuable dimension to understanding aggression and caregiving in society, whether directed toward family members or strangers, as well as defeat states such as depression and the experiences that may be responsible. Computers will play an increasing role in helping clinicians to handle the many different kinds of data that must often be integrated. There has been considerable interest in the integration of different approaches to clinical practice. Some have explored the possible integration of behavioral and psychoanalytic approaches. Others have investigated the relationship between classical psychodynamics and object relations perspectives. Discussions here concern the nature of inferred conflict and how mental phenomena of interest are formed. Accurate descriptions of assessment perspec

Clinical Assessment tives will increase the likelihood that points of convergence and differences are correctly identified. Continuing research efforts are needed to identify valid assessment methods and indicate assessment frameworks that are most likely to help clients. Increased interest in clinical reasoning bodes well for enhancement of assessment competencies.

This article has been reprinted from the Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, Volume 1.

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