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Relational Assessment

Clinicians recognize the importance of relational assessment, the evaluation of key relationships. Clinicians try to develop ways of characterizing a person's social relationships, both with the outside environment & with other individuals. Are these relationships assets or liabilities? Information is needed about specific features of a person's key close relationships. Each person can be viewed as one component of the numerous two - or - more - person interactions that fill daily activity. How does the person function in these interactions? What are his/her relational or interpersonal skills?


The family is one of the most powerful interactional systems affecting all people. To conceptualize patients without considering the dynamics of their family is to see half a picture at best. To plan treatment without considering the needs & opinions of the patient's family might represent an invitation to treatment failure. Moreover, whether clinicians admit it or not, the patient's family is often psychologically present, representing a powerful determining force in the patient's behavior. For this reason, interviewers need to make some type of assessment that gathers information about both individual family members & the family as a system.




Researchers are developing ways of objectively measuring close relationships, uchit as those within a family. For example, Pierce & his colleagues developed the Quality of Relationship Inventory to assess various aspects of close relationships with specific people in 1991. This inventory obtains subjects' quantified responses to soe questions as listed in attached picture. Clinicians can use the results of relational assessments to understand more about client's social network. If several family or network members complete these measures, the clinician can have a better idea of how representative the client's views are of the quality of the relationships & the general atmosphere in the immediate social environment. If the client is being treated in the family setting, with other family members present at therapy sessions, the measures give the clinician valuable clues about family relationships.


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