Contact between an addictions counsellor and a client is usually initiated by the client referring him/her self, an outside agency refers them, family physician or the addictions counsellor initiates contact through outreach or other agencies. Assessment can be seen as the beginning of treatment and it becomes an opportunity to encourage the client to begin to move towards change. The initial assessment involves a mutual investigation and exploration between the client and the assessor, which allows the assessor to determine with the client, any specific needs, their goals, characteristics and problems. While the ongoing assessment allows the client to see the changes and determine, with the assessor, what treatment plan needs to be altered.
It is important for the counsellors to set the tone and use the appropriate setting for the screening interview with varying approaches dependent on the client. Explain to the client that the screening process may take one or more sessions and that you may go over the same topics more than once because it is not a straightforward process. Maintain a client-centered focus and never make assumptions or take anything for granted about a client or their life, as their experiences are different from yours. Use open-ended questions as often as possible and use closed questions where applicable to address specific areas.
When the initial assessment process begins, it is generally informal, and begins with the assessor explaining the process to the client. The assessor will explain the functions and procedures of the assessment. That this assessment will provide the client with helpful information for planning treatment, including information about the