Mental Health Assessment

The faculty from the Center for Psychotherapy Research have extensive experience developing reliable and valid assessments to support psychotherapy research programs in community settings. Our efforts have focused on developing measures to assess the mechanisms of therapeutic change across evidence-based psychotherapies. We also have expertise in training and implementation of a broad range of mental health assessments rated by consumers of services, clinicians, and expert independent assessments. We house the Assessment Core of the Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center that supports clinical assessment across a wide range of studies. Our team includes expert diagnostic trainers who are skilled in training clinicians to administer standardized diagnostic assessments and a cadre of expert clinicians trained to competence in a wide range of assessments to assess mental health diagnoses, psychiatric symptoms, social determinants of health, and functioning.

Assessment Core of Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center (PMHARC)

Paul Crits-Christoph served as director of the Clinical Assessment Core of the Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center (PMHARC) for 8 years. After working directly with Dr. Crits-Christoph for 2 years within PMHARC, Mary Beth Connolly Gibbons assumed the role of director from 2021 until the present. Our role as the Clinical Assessment Core is to assist investigators in recruiting patients for clinical studies, provide trained diagnosticians/evaluators to conduct clinical assessments in Center studies, and oversee administration of a core battery of behavioral measures. Our diagnosticians are trained by our diagnostic supervisor, Patria Alvelo, in administering the (1) Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, (2) Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, (3) Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and (4) Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. To learn more about PMHARC and the Clinical Assessment Core, click here!

Measures Developed at the Center for Psychotherapy Research

As previously stated, our faculty members have contributed to a panoply of evidence-based measures through the development of reliable and valid assessments to support psychotherapy research programs in community settings. Please find our measures, their scoring guides, and their published articles below!

The Trust and Respect Scale was developed by Paul Crits-Christoph in 2019 to measure the patient's levels of trust and respect toward their provider. This 8-item measure was found to be unidimensional, showed good internal consistency, and was not redundant with existing measures of alliance. While it was developed specifically within the setting of psychotherapy, it has the potential to be used in a wide variety of healthcare settings.

The Ways of Responding (WOR) instrument (Barber & DeRubeis, 1992) measures compensatory skills, a central construct in some theories of the mechanism of cognitive therapy for depression. We created two adapted versions for use of this measure in community mental health settings. First, we created a new rater version in which the depressotypic narratives were revised to be relevant in diverse settings. The rater versions are expensive and time-consuming to use due to their requirement of using trained independent judges to rate subjects' open-ended written responses, so we also developed a self-report version of the WOR that is reliable, valid, and feasible for community mental health settings.

Change in self-understanding of maladaptive interpersonal patterns has been an important mechanism of symptom change in theories of dynamic psychotherapy and has been specified as an important treatment outcome by psychotherapy clients. We developed self-report measure for patients that provides important information to therapists about their patients’ levels of self-understanding.

The concept of the therapeutic alliance and its operationalization have received much attention in recent years. One of the early self-report measures of the therapeutic alliance was the Helping Alliance questionnaire (HAq-I). We revised this questionnaire to exclude the items that explicitly reflect improvement. The HAq-II was found to have excellent internal consistent and test-retest reliability.

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