We recognize that people do not grow in a vacuum, but rather within a complex interplay of biology, individual differences, social contexts, and cultural and societal contexts. Doctoral-level psychologists typically have an extensive background in scientific research and keep up-to-date on current best practices in psychological research with the ability to critically evaluate research studies. Psychologists often use psychological measures which can provide useful supplemental information. These measures usually have an extensive research base that validates that they measure what they say they measure, and results can be compared to scores from individuals with similar issues or the general population. Psychological measures can also be a valuable way to track progress over time.
Prior to beginning psychotherapy, a comprehensive assessment can help the clinician and client to identify any diagnoses, the specific issues the client is experiencing, the cause(s) of issues and any factors making them worse or better, and which type of treatment is expected to be the most helpful for the individual client’s specific issues.