Sometimes psychological tests are necessary. Psychological tests are standardized procedures to measure a person’s performance on a particular task or to assess his or her personality. If the results of a diagnostic interview are inconclusive psychological tests can provide information that can be used in a supplementary way to arrive at a diagnosis (Davison and Neale, 2001 p80) it is similar to a structured interview in that it asks the same questions of each person and the answers are usually given in a format that can easily be scored.
Tests such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory for Adolescents (MMPI/A), the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Rorschach Inkblot Test are commonly used in this area. The MMPI/A test was designed to aid in diagnosing a number of personality disturbances. In contrast to MMPI the Rorschach test is psychoanalytic and is looking at inner conflict. When analysing TAT the psychologist is looking for recurrent themes that may reveal a sense of loss or anger.
The purpose of the assessment process is to diagnose, and to find the best treatment for a disorder and to do this the problem it must be classified correctly. The official system used by mental health professionals is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (DSM -IV). The main feature of this system is the use of multiaxial classification whereby each patient is rated on five different scales or axes, which are, (1) All diagnostic categories except personality disorders and mental retardation.
(2) Personality disorders and mental retardation. (3) . General medical conditions. (4) Psychosocial and environmental problems. (5) Global assessment of functioning. (GAF) (Davison and Neale, 2001 p62) Two are concerned with diagnostic categories, and the other three provide for the collection of additional relevant information The rationale for this approach hinges on the recognition that the management of individual cases depends on a consideration of several important dimensions beyond specific symptoms. These supplementary factors include the environment in which the patient is living, aspects of the patient’s health that might affect psychological functions, and fluctuations in the overall level of the patient’s adjustment. (Oltmanns and Emery 1995, p116)
Following the assessment procedure a case conference is convened and is attended by all relevant professionals associated with the boy. The psychologist’s recommendations are discussed and an individual care plan is drawn up for the boy. Back on the unit all care staff are made aware of the assessment findings and what we need to be doing for the boy. This is important to ensure that there is continuity and a consistence in approach by the different teams.
It is usual for some boys not to co-operate at all in the assessment or even meet with the psychologist. Their main fear is that everyone will know their business. A client has the right to confidentiality and there is an ethical obligation not to reveal private communications between client and psychologist. The clients right to confidentiality, however is not absolute. Moreover, the clients secret is often shared with other professionals within the agency and in other agencies, the obligation (to preserve confidentiality) then binds all equally. (Biestek, 1983, p121)
Conclusion. Psychological assessment is the process of gathering and interpreting information that will be used to understand another person. Care plans are put into place and constantly evaluated. The process of assessment is a complex one involving both carer and psychologist. The interviewer decides upon the structure of an interview, and the interview may be supplemented by various psychological tests. Recommendations and care plans are shared with other professionals.
Baird, K, Lecture Notes, 23/10/02 Biestek, F.P. (1983) The Casework Relationship, Allen and Unwin Ltd, London. Davison, G.C. Neale, J.M. (2001) Abnormal Psychology, 8th edition. John Wiley and Sons, Inc, U.S.A. Oltmanns, T.F. Emery, R.E. (1995), Abnormal Psychology. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.N.J 07632. Wade, C, Tavris, C, (1993) Psychology Third Edition. HarperCollins College Publishers, New York.