Therapeutic Assessment of Families in Healthcare Settings: A Case Presentation of the Model's Application

Justin D. Smith*, Stephen E. Finn, Nicole F. Swain, Leonard Handler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In this article, we present a case study of a Therapeutic Assessment (TA) with an 11-year-old boy who had two unexplained behavioral episodes suggesting neurological impairment, which led to two emergency department visits at a children's hospital. TA is a semistructured approach that blends the extensive conceptualizing benefits of psychological assessment with the principles and techniques of evidence-based child and family interventions. We use this case to illustrate how TA is an adaptive and flexible approach to child-centered family assessment that can meet the goals of psychologists working in pediatric and general medical hospitals, primary care clinics, family medicine practices, and other health care settings. With the current case, the clinician was able to use the procedures of TA to clarify for the family their son's unexplained behaviors, while also providing them with a therapeutic experience. In addition to addressing the family's concerns, the clinician also addressed a number of specific questions provided by the referring neurologist that informed ongoing care of the child. This case illustrates the potential utility and effectiveness of the TA model with children and families referred to a typical psychology service in a health care setting. This case is one of the first applications of the TA model with this population and its success suggests further research in this area is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Case study
  • Family assessment
  • Health care psychology
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Therapeutic Assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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