The Repertory Grid is an instrument, based on Personal construct Theory, designed to capture the dimensions and structure of personal meaning. Its aim is to describe the ways in which people give meaning to their experiences in their own terms. It is a structured interview designed to make explicit those constructs with which persons organize their world. The way in which we get to know and interpret our environment, our understanding of ourselves and others is guided by an implicit and self created theory of meaning which is the result of conclusions drawn from our experiences. The repertory grid is a method used to explore the structure and content of these implicit theories (personal meanings) through which we perceive and act in our day-to-day existence.
Reducing the dangerous tendency of assessment will require a shift from power-based structures and practices to relationship-based structures and practice; which itself is supportive of a change from a deficit model, in which the beneficent outside power rescues an individual from weaknesses, to a capacity building model, in which individuals rescue themselves based on their own strengths and relationships in the community.
The goal of assessment is not to create a diagnostic label, but rather to provide a profile of functioning that will yield concrete guidelines for selection of intervention strategies. The reason that assessment is so dangerous is that people exhibit a tendency to focus on positive or confirming instances when they gather and evaluate information relevant to a given belief or hypothesis.
Assessment often results in a process in which the child is asked to change his/her behavior without the slightest notion or, perhaps, even interest of whether the child actually wants to change. In most cases, the child, if asked, is likely to indicate that it is not s/he, but others, who need to change if the world is to be a better place. Human service workers tend to reject this ‘other’ notion, even when they know that it is true. The problems of dealing with an ecosystem seem simply much too difficult, are not a funded category, and, by the way, are really not ‘in my job description’.
Personal support systems are a well known concern for people suffering from what is commonly known as ‘chronic mental illness’. Healthy individuals live in functional psychosocial kinship systems of mutual independence of between twenty and twenty-five persons. People with thought disorders have networks averaging thirteen in size. If social competence is a cause, not an effect – we will need to begin to address the issue at an early stage in child development.
A functional cognitive behavior assessment [FCBA] is considered a vital part of any psychological evaluation for either mental health or educational issues. The process not only provides a clinical team with considerable information about the nature of the child interactions with peers and child managers, but it begins to develop insight into the ‘inner logic’ of the child and the people in the child’s ecosystem.