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What Is a Therapeutic Assessment?

By A. Reed
Updated May 17, 2024
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Therapeutic assessments refer to ways in which professionals examine clients or patients in order to arrive at some much needed conclusion, typically having to do with their physical health or psycho-social well-being. On the basis of the information provided, the professional determines the most effective course of action to take in an effort to help his or her clients achieve the best outcomes. Using many different methods and tools, a therapeutic assessment may be a diagnostic test, a physical exam, or a mental health assessment.

Generally, before conduction of any kind of therapeutic assessment, gathering a thorough history of the client or patient is necessary. Typically gathered by a professional, the history is essential, as it may contain vital information that could affect the outcome of the assessment. Histories include information having to do with childhood illnesses or current disease conditions, as well as medical knowledge regarding immediate relatives. An important part of collecting a history is finding out what treatment regimens are currently used, which could include medications, both prescription or non-prescription, as well as illicit street drugs.

Diagnostic testing refers to a type of therapeutic assessment primarily used to help physicians in the provision of a medical diagnosis, a determination of disease process. Screenings may provide a preliminary diagnosis allowing for the early detection of illness, such as colonoscopy for cancerous growths in the large intestine and mammogram for breast cancer. Tests conducted from collected biological specimens like blood, sputum, and urine are done for many reasons, including the monitoring of blood drug levels and for the purpose making adjustments to current treatment regimens. Results from testing assists doctors in making decisions regarding disease progression and prognosis.

​Healthcare professionals perform physical assessments which include taking vital signs and listening to breath and heart sounds. Temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate are important in determining a patient's health status, as abnormal increases or decreases in any of these values are suggestive of infection or life-threatening conditions such as stroke or heart attack. Certain types of breathing patterns or coughs indicate acute distress or lung disease, such as wheezing in asthmatics or patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Doctors also use palpation, a method using the hands to manipulate internal organs, to feel for the presence of abnormal enlargements or tumors.

Some people exhibit signs of depression, phobia, or other mental disease requiring a mental health assessment. This kind of therapeutic assessment is performed by a psychiatrist or psychologist, and generally begins with a health assessment from a healthcare professional, followed by an interview. The client is asked several questions about his or her symptoms and developmental history. A clinical interview can take on different forms, as it could be formal or conversational, depending upon the situation as well as the interviewer. Mental diagnosis and treatment are determined based upon the information obtained from the client.

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