Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment includes aspects of the collaborative assessment model of Constance T. Fischer, Ph.D., and the semi-structured Therapeutic Assessment approach of Stephen E. Finn, Ph.D. (Finn, 2007; Fischer, 1994) C/TA specifically aims to help you create positive change. I work directly with you to develop questions you want to answer.

I encourage you to collaborate with me throughout the evaluation process and to co-interpret results. Together, we determine the diagnosis and best treatment approaches. Too often, as consumers of health care we are undervalued, with our knowledge and unique perspective discounted.

Commonly, we have been told that experts have all the answers. Too often, this belief leads us to ignore our own insights and knowledge. As a result of the C/TA we do together, you will better tap into self-knowledge, trust it, and communicate it to me as an integral part of the assessment process. I will help and encourage you to share with me what you know, what you think, and what you feel. I bring my expertise, you bring yours. Together, we make sense of the data.

In Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment, we work together to complete a series of tests, interviews, and discussions. The C/TA process can be used with individuals or couples and can be targeted or comprehensive.

A targeted assessment focuses on specific problems and can be appropriate when you want a simpler, shorter procedure.

  • I help you develop a key question or two to answer through the assessment.
  • I select the most fitting assessment instruments to address your questions.
  • Together we explore the results and find solutions.

A comprehensive assessment aims to provide you with a full evaluation, one that covers several important issues. The steps we take in this process may include the following:

  • Initial Session: Obtain background information; formulate questions for the assessment.
  • Standardized Testing Session(s): 8-12 hours of direct testing; some post-test discussions.
  • Assessment Intervention Session(s): 1-2 sessions – to explore/reframe your or your child’s standardized results.
  • Discussion of Findings: 1-2 sessions – review the meanings of your scores; answer your questions.
  • Written Feedback:
  • Results written for you, often in letter form and in plain English; a metaphorical story is sometimes included (see below).
  • Follow-up Session: 1-2 months after the Discussion of Findings to consolidate what we learned together.

A couples assessment helps you better understand and manage areas of your relationship that are puzzling or troubling and to see and appreciate each other’s strengths.

  • For spouses, life partners, family members, or business partners seeking to understand their differences and commonalities.
  • Targeted testing is especially valuable in couples or two-party assessment.
  • Meetings and/or testing sessions are held both individually and jointly.
  • Assessment aims to answer the specific questions that we develop together.

Clients almost always receive both verbal and written feedback, since research suggests that you will better retain information when it is presented both ways. Part of the written feedback may take the form of a therapeutic story.

Therapeutic Stories

A therapeutic story translates the critical aspects of your evaluation into a metaphorical narrative.

In some cases adults and adolescents, as well as children, are better able to process and absorb information when it is presented in story form. For these stories, I collaborate with my associate, writer JB Allyn, to produce an allegory that captures and expresses your unique life experience as well as your assessment findings.

Read a sample story.

To learn more, please contact me for an initial conversation to discuss your needs.


Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Notice of Privacy Practices: By law, I, Diane Engelman, am required to insure that your protected health information is kept private. Click on the link above to read or print the full document.