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Following completion of assessment procedures, it is important to interpret the results for the client in a manner that the client can understand (i.e., not just giving them numerical test scores). When feeding back assessment results, consider the following [389, 527]:

  • Focus first on the client’s strengths.
  • Gently and tactfully outline the client’s difficulties.
  • Phrase the assessment in terms that are appropriate for the client.
  • Focus on the pattern of results rather than just an overall score.
  • Interpret the results in the context of the client’s personal history.
  • Pull the assessment results together and offer hope for the future by discussing a treatment plan.

Again, it is important to stress that these screening measures are not diagnostic; therefore, it is important not to label a client as having a diagnosis of a disorder unless this has been made by a suitably qualified mental health professional (e.g., a registered psychologist, or psychiatrist). Rather, it is best to focus on the symptoms displayed by the client.

If mental health symptoms are identified, it is important to discuss with the client what they may expect to experience in relation to these symptoms should they reduce or stop AOD use. As discussed in Chapter A4 and Chapter B7, if symptoms are substance-induced, they are likely to dissipate if the person reduces or stops their use. On the other hand, the client’s mental health symptoms may increase when they reduce or stop using, particularly if they have been using to self-medicate their symptoms. It is important that the client knows that you will be monitoring these symptoms to determine whether further treatment may be required. AOD workers may find the wellbeing plan located in the Worksheets section of these Guidelines useful for helping clients identify strategies for managing their triggers and warning signs. In addition, the wellbeing plan may help clients identify things that are important to them, trusted people they can talk to, and what professional support they can access.

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