Psychosocial assessments are an integral part of my job. I frequently receive calls from both practioners and students asking for assessment frameworks, particularly in relation to a family’s capacity to act protectively. Therefore, I offer my preferred model publicly for you to use.
Risk assessment: Capacity to protect is a risk assessment of a parent’s ability to keep their child safe. When assessing risk I use a four score system designed by my psychologist colleague, Nick Rayner. The system contains the elements of, Acknowledgement, Acceptance, Adjustment and Accommodation. The risk will contain measures of low, medium and high-risk areas. Risk factors within each of the four “A” elements will be either static (fixed) or dynamic (change over time).
Acknowledgement includes the parties being able to objectively view their familial patterns from an external viewpoint. If an entity is unable to acknowledge a difficulty within a situational context then this suggests not only a closed system but also an inability to affect the following elements within the four score assessment.
Acceptance often hinges on personality constructs and whether an entity operates within an internal or external locus of control. A closed system with an external locus of control has minimal chance of acceptance.
Adjustment refers to whether the entity can adjust to news of difference and if there is a capacity to affect change. Without appropriate infrastructure, external supports and measures of check, adjustment can be difficult and take lengthy periods.
Accommodation is the practice and capacity in action to the point where it becomes accommodated into daily life and cognitive structuring. In closed systems, separate entities are often socialized to accommodate to the dominant authority only. When this authority is challenged, the structure may further close in upon itself and strengthen the internal accommodation to the dominant voice.
The “how-to” of applying the above elements to situational contexts cannot be offered in a blog. It is the subject of supervision, best practice and experience. Be aware that any assessment and report you prepare often requires defending in court. Never make an assessment without backing it up with evidence-based practice and a full understanding of the assessment framework you have used.