A marriage counseling assessment or pre-counseling relationship assessment is often helpful in understanding a couple before they come into the office. The Relationship Assessment Scale is a brief, easy to use assessment where you answer seven items on a five-point scale. Others do a more comprehensive assessment which can be quite time consuming. The goal is to help the therapist have a better idea of the couples issues without having to shoot in the dark for weeks. It also helps couples learn the state of their relationship, and scope of counseling needed.
Is a Marriage Counseling Assessment truly necessary?
While we feel this information can be useful at times, we have found that the couple does not necessarily benefit. While it is good to know the state of the relationship coming in so it can be retested after successful therapy to see how far the couples has progressed, some assessments can bias the therapist before even meeting with the couple. In a solution-based therapy where you are trying to solve problems or even diagnose one spouse or the other, an assessment can provide you with valuable information.
What we prefer to using a marriage counseling assessment
However, in a more holistic approach where you are trying to be neutral, facilitate healthy relationship, teach skills, and deal with root causes, excessive background information may make it difficult to be fully present with the couple in the process. Furthermore, anything that is truly important is usually shared by the couple when they make the initial inquiry or in our 2 day private retreat. This means, it will come up anyway and we won’t waste weeks or months of work in the process.
In sum, while marriage counseling assessments can be valuable, it’s important to balance the need to analyze and study the couple with being available and present to observe what’s going on in real life, not just on paper.
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