Feedback Fables (story-form assessment reports)
Feedback fables are an assessment report in story format that are individually crafted for children. In this way, children gain self-understanding, and learn about their strengths and challenges in a way that makes sense. Feedback fables may also illustrate to children how they can appreciate their strengths, combat their challenges, communicate their needs, and ways to get help and support.
An Understandable Assessment Report That Is Engaging To Read
Direct feedback of a psychological evaluation and assessment is often emotionally overwhelming for many children, especially those who are highly sensitive. Individualized feedback fables can be a developmentally appropriate way of explaining assessment information that can help children understand their own and their families’ challenges. Using fables provides an indirect way to help children take in information without overwhelming their mental and emotional capabilities.
Fables Have Been Used Throughout History
Throughout human history and across cultures, myths, metaphors, fables, and fairytales have traditionally been used to communicate, construct meaning, record important messages, and teach life lessons to the next generation. In psychology, fables, metaphors, and storytelling have been utilized in order to communicate complex psychological concepts to children both in therapy and in psychological assessment and evaluation.
Metaphors Improve Understanding
Although written as a metaphor, most children readily relate to their personalized fable and recognize that it is written especially about them. The fable typically incorporates elements from the assessment inspired by the child and portrays the family and their future in a hopeful light. The fable allows the child to feel that they have been heard or understood in ways that they may never have before through the assessment process.
Fables Help With Acceptance and Growth
Fables may also help children avoid feeling shame by providing a different explanation for their feelings and behaviors that focuses more on systemic issues and less on personal shortcomings (e.g., portraying the child’s character as misunderstood instead of “bad” or as having a learning disability instead of “dumb”). Fables can also help parents by providing an alternative view of their child, which may help them respond in a more compassionate way. The fable provides the child and their family new ways of viewing their situation, as well as possible next steps to be taken.
The fable often serves as a reminder of the lessons learned during the assessment process long after it has ended and their commitment to make changes, for not only the children, but also for their parents. Children who begin or continue therapy may bring their fables to their therapists to incorporate into their treatment and understanding of the child. Parents and therapists can continue to read the fables with the children to help them internalize the positive messages.
- Finn, S. E. (2007). In our clients’ shoes: Theory and techniques of therapeutic assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Tharinger, D. J., Finn, S. E., Hersh, B., Wilkinson, A., Christopher, G., & Tran, A. (2008). Assessment feedback with parents and pre-adolescent children: A collaborative approach. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39, 600–609.
- Tharinger, D. J., Finn, S. E., Wilkinson, A., Dehay, T., Parton, V. T., Bailey, K. E., & Tran, A. (2008). Providing psychological assessment feedback to children through individualized fables. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(6), 610–618. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.39.6.610