22 Sep 1995 10:29:43 -0500

On 20 Sep 1995 Bronwyn Seaborn raised questions concerning the
impact of assessment/testing on "the therapeutic relationship".
To add my two bobs worth on this subject, I would say it all

Tests such as the MMPI provide a nomothetic profile normed on the
basis of being applied to many populations. It provides a basis
for comparison between individuals just as a grid with supplied
elements/constructs might. The caveats which would be applied
to a supplied element/construct grid would seem to apply to the
MMPI etc, i.e individual uniqueness/ differences may be obscured.

The usefulness of the MMPI in my mind is limited to examining a
profile and then checking the "fit" of a derived profile with the
individual/other information which is known. For example, a
person may say "yes that's me" or may reject the profile. My
major concern is when such tools are used to predict future
behaviour, e.g., x has such a profile so he/she is this or will
do that. This raises the issue of what does it mean to say x is
this or that, and that assessments are a narrative, at times
becoming institutionalised folklore.

Further, the validity of some tests is shakier than others, I
recall borrowing the Hidden Schizophrenia scale from a colleague
who was using it frequently and asking other staff and a range
of patients with 'established' diagnoses to complete this scale.
The results were intriguing to say the least and I don't think
the scale was used much afterward.

Having said this, I know psychologist colleagues who use tests
sensitively as part of an overall approach and discuss the
results with the person completing the test/tool. As to
enjoyment the responses I have observed have ranged from interest
and enthusiasm to frustration and anger... basically reflecting
the range of persons asked to be involved in testing etc.

I work as a social worker and colleagues occasionally ask what
assessment tool I will contribute to a joint assessment/planning
task. My usual response is that I won't be doing an assessment
for the sake of doing one, but rather if there is an identified
need I would be happy to do some form of assessment. I work in
a setting where it is a statutory requirement that people are
assessed so I do not have a problem with the concept of
assessment itself, however how an assessment is carried out, the
purpose and associated process need to be carefully considered,
as does the usefulness of the assessment. Essentially, garbage
in, garbage out.


Bob Green.