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Extended Play-Based Developmental Assessment

The goal of the Extended Play-Based Developmental Assessment (EPBDA, Gil) is to gain an understanding of children’s unique functioning, identify problem areas, rule clinical symptoms in or out, understand children’s perceptions of their important relationships, and subsequently develop recommendations that meet the specific needs of children and their families that may or may not suggest therapeutic services. However, if acute symptoms emerge in children during the assessment period, clinicians will shift their focus to providing therapeutic interventions to either children directly or to their caregivers in order to address and alleviate children’s distress


The EPBDA consists of meeting individually with youth, allowing them to become comfortable with the setting and therapist. This therapeutic assessment may be concluded between 8 and 12 sessions and includes clinical observation, children’s participation in a variety of play-based activities, attention to and interpretation of thematic material in children’s play, completion of paper-pencil tests, if appropriate, and therapeutic dialogues.


The EPBDA has shown to be particularly useful for very young children who are less verbally expressive, for hesitant or ambivalent children who may feel compromised by demands for verbal communication, and for adolescents who may be unable or unwilling to verbally participate in an assessment or therapy.


Although originally designed for young children, the EPBDA can be adapted for toddlers and very young children (EPBDA-YC), as well as for children of all ages. The EPBDA is not a custody evaluation or a forensic evaluation and is not designed primarily to evaluate allegations of abuse. However, in the typical course of this assessment, clinicians will likely become privy to concerns, fears, or anxieties.

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