Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 283-308

Behavioral Assessment with Adults

  • William H. O’BrienAffiliated withBowling Green State University
  • , Carmen K. OemigAffiliated withBowling Green State University
  • , Jebediah J. NorthernAffiliated withBowling Green State University


Behavioral assessment is an approach to the measurement and understanding of human behavior that requires several conceptual and clinical competencies. Basic conceptual competencies in behavioral assessment include a well-developed knowledge of empiricism, learning theories, idiographic measurement strategies, behavioral change processes, and multivariate causality. Behavioral assessment also requires familiarity with psychometric principles such as norms, reliability, and validity. Basic clinical competencies in behavioral assessment are two-fold. One set of basic clinical competencies subsumes information gathering methods such as interviewing, behavioral observation, self-monitoring, and self-report inventory use. The other centers on the generation of topographical and functional analyses of behavior that can be used to guide treatment design. In addition, the evolution and expansion of the behavioral tradition has created a need for expert-level conceptual and clinical competencies in behavioral assessment. Expert conceptual competencies in behavioral assessment center on familiarity with recent “third wave” advances in the philosophical, theoretical, and empirical foundations of behavioral assessment and behavior therapy. Expert clinical competencies require familiarity with decision-making processes, the fallibilities of clinical judgment, and the quantitative strategies that can be used to aid clinical decision-making and case formulation in behavioral assessment.