Situating the construction of psychological assessments within technical communication research
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Mental health therapy has taken a sharp turn away from inward-oriented individualistic models. One new model, radical relationality, has not had adequate measurement tools to gauge complex communicative interactions and evaluate patient outcomes. The researcher spent a year on-site at the research location, Greenbrier Academy for Girls, conducting a qualitative and quantitative study to develop a relationality evaluation measure and procedure. Here, the researcher uses the contextual design methodology to trace this relationship-based therapeutic model to uncover assumptions and values necessary for designing appropriate benchmarks. The seven steps of contextual design used here are contextual inquiring, modeling, consolidating, designing, prototyping, testing, and implementing. Inquiry methods included artifact walkthroughs, simulated work-based interviews, and post-observation inquiry. Models are designed to visually display localized work flow, sequence, artifacts, culture, and space. Such ethnographic observation, rhetoric-based research, and qualitative interviews lead to analyzing communication, understanding models, and collaboratively designing the new tool called the Relationality Values Assessment. After prototyping the measurement tool, the researcher conducted a study to test the Relationality Values Assessment in conjunction with a well-established psychological measure called the Youth Outcome Questionnaire. In doing so, the researcher applied statistical analyses to 505 participant responses to assess the Relationality Values Assessment’s reliability and validity. For reliability, the researcher applied an internal consistency estimate, a coefficient alpha called Cronbach’s Alpha, which yielded a 0.973. Furthermore, in looking at both reliability and validity, the researcher applied a Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient to compare the developed Relationality Values Assessment tool against the applicable subscale from the established Youth Outcome Questionnaire psychological measure. The Pearson’s result showed an overall inverse relationship correlation with a coefficient of -0.674. The qualitative and quantitative information gathered and processed helped (1) develop a solution for one location striving to practice and measure the relationality mental health model and (2) provide a base for future research within the broader context of this area of psychology. Within this process, the researcher shows the value of having a historical and rhetorical understanding of the psychological field’s mental health models as well as the location for implementation. The collaborative efforts across fields highlight the contribution that rhetoricians and technical communicators can offer within the psychology field.