Whether as a therapist or a layperson, we daily engage in informal assessment. We judge friends or strangers as happy or angry, dishonest or trustworthy, stupid or intelligent, hostile or friendly and we adjust our behavior according to our judgment. While dealing with others we don’t focus on other’s emotions, feelings, motives and intentions, we focus on the physical world. A therapist while dealing with substance abuser heavily depends upon informal assessment. Formal assessment which involve interviews, tests, and systematic observation provide basis, extends and sharpen the informal assessment.
Informal assessment is the way in which a therapist judges the client according to some qualities. Informal assessment is based upon behavioral observation and unstructured interviews which provide qualitative data about the client’s subjective experiences.
Observation: it is one of the famous method which is used by most of clinicians. In this method behaviors of the client are observed and according to these observed behavior he make a tentative diagnosis which help us in clinical diagnosis. In this method we usually focus on the three important things.
- Time sampling: we record a single behavior with specific time. For example withdrawal and cravings are noted within allocated time.
- Event sampling: sometime within specific time period interested behavior doesn’t occur so we record some important events. For example client can hid specific behavior but therapist focus on behavior and enlist them.
- Situation sampling: sometime a behavior is recorded at a specific situation. For example in meeting of client with their families some behaviors are noted like his anger, communicational gap etc.
In this informal assessment clinician focuses on General appearance, Psychomotor behavior, Mood and effect, Speech, Cognition, Thought pattern, and Level of consciousness. All information help a therapist to make some tentative diagnosis about the problem.
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