'Beware of a man who knows the answer before he understands the question.'

Sometimes a person will walk into a service in real trouble with their substance use, and in clear need of structured therapeutic support. There are occasions where undertaking a initial assessment as a prelude to an appointment with the local service provider not only acts as the first step in someone entering treatment, but provides them with the invaluable sense of being listened to, understood and reassured that the problems with which they are surrounded can be dealt with. All you need to do is fill in the form . . . . .

  • What are the rules around confidentiality regarding an assessment?
  • What does informed consent mean?
  • Are they eligible for treatment in the borough?
  • What is an assessment for?
  • How do you come across as the person asking the questions?
  • As the person undertaking the assessment, do you really understand what all the questions mean and why they are being asked?
  • What do you do if someone refused to answer a question?
  • How do you ask the difficult or embarrassing questions?
  • What is the minimum amount of information you require?
  • Do you know enough about different drugs, their use and harms to fill in the substance use section properly?
  • Are you able to recognise the dangers of poly-drug use?
  • Do you insist on asking the questions in the order they are written, or is there another way?
  • What do you do if they tell you something you think is relevant but you can't find the box on the form?
  • What do you do if someone becomes distressed during the assessment?
  • What do you do if someone says something that makes you think that they, or someone else may be a serious risk of harm?
  • How do you identify other risks to their well-being, outside of their immediate substance use, and why are they important?
  • What do you do if you think a person is lying to you?

At Build on Belief we think undertaking an assessment well is an art-form in itself, and can make the difference between someone entering structured treatment and taking the first steps toward changing their lives for the better, or walking out of the door never to return. This workshop is intended to make sure that the first of these happens. For those of you who wish to learn to undertake initial assessments, there is a test to pass when you think you are ready!