Information Sources

Information is the basis of all measurement and, therefore, the basis of all clinical assessment. Five broad sources of information are available to help describe the clinical problem; each has its own advantages and limitations. The first source is the self-report inventory; subjects literally report on themselves by completing a standard list of items. The second is the rating scale and checklist; a person familiar with the subject completes this form in order to provide an alternative perspective. The third is the clinical interview; the clinician asks the questions and the subject responds verbally, often in a free-form style. The clinician is free to follow any particular line of questioning desired and usually mixes standard questions with those specific to the current problem. The fourth source of information is the projective technique, an attempt to access unconscious structures and processes that would not ordinarily be available to the subject at the level of verbal report. These sources are discussed in the following sections. The use of intimates of the subject, perhaps a spouse, teacher, parent, or good friend, someone who can provide perspective on the problem, might also be considered a source of information. Physiological measurements, neurotransmitter or hormone levels, for example, provide a final source, though these are not available to most therapists.

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