Psychological Assessment William P. Wattles, Ph.D.
Peter Medawar • Good writing: “Brevity, cogency and clarity are the principal virtues and the greatest of these is clarity.” • “a (person’s) style of writing is an important part of his character”
Psychological Report • The end product of assessment. • More than merely test results • Must “interact with the data” to make useful conclusions about • Referral question • Making decisions • Problem solving
Referral Question A brief description of the client general reason for conducting the evaluation
Referral Question Orients the reader to the initial focus of the report and what follows. Clinician must clarify the referral question.
Referral Question • “Referred for a psychological” • lacks focus and precision • leads to “shotgun” reports • A wide variety of often-fragmented descriptions in the hope that something useful can be found.
Referral Question Example “Mr. Smith is a 35-year-old, white, married male with a high school education who presents with complaints about depression and anxiety.”
Report Format Please follow example Add Discussion (case conceptualization) section before Impressions and recommendations.
Discussion Section This is where you put it together.
clarity She was attractive, well spoken, and had high mannerisms
Translate Technical concepts Examples page 568
Be concise Jesse S is a 23-year-old Caucasian female who presents with having the desire to feel “fully fulfilled”. She wants to feel settled in her life. The current evaluation was designed for the patient to gain personal insight regarding dissatisfaction with her current daily activities. (44)
Be concise Jesse S is a 23-year-old Caucasian female who is dissatisfied with her daily activities and wants to feel “fully fulfilled.” (21)
Be concise • The patient answered all: • The inquiries presented to him • my questions.
Simple language When this issue was further questioned, MT …. Asked to elaborate, MT …
Simple language She displayed a euthymic mood, which she described as “great”.
Avoid pejorative terms She was low on the Lie scale indicating that she received a normal score and appeared to answer honestly and openly.
Avoid jargon People with this profile tend to be narcissistic, selfish, and self-indulgent.
Seek active verbs The older sister was described as stubborn implying a strain in the relationship.
watch for redundancy Her past work history consists of working on a local
Seek clarity Mrs. L’s Mother is a resigned OB/GYN nurse
Short She made no eye contact even though she was familiar with the interviewer. Her eyes focused on the hairline of the interviewer. She appeared to look over my head rather than making eye contact.
Don’t over do quotes “we weren’t poor but we weren’t well off either.”
quotes because “the other students think [she gets] all of the questions correct but [she] still doesn’t know everything [she feels] like [she needs] to know.”
Be concise Given the behavioral observations, length and depth of clinical interview and MMPI-2 test profile, I believe this evaluation is an accurate assessment of TS’s current level of functioning.
Details and examples She admits that they sometimes “overcompensate” in caring for their children because neither of them received enough attention from their parents growing up
Be direct, don’t repeat After high school, she felt that college was the next logical step for her. She felt that “my parents were completely behind me as though it was the next natural step, but also to make sure that I did end up going to college”. She repeated many times that “you don’t really have a choice about college in my family; they make you think you do, but you really don’t”. Ms. Davis went on to say that she had been brought up thinking this, and she didn’t even consider any other options after high school. (95)
Interpretation goes in discussion The results of CA’s WAIS-III indicates that she has above average intelligence especially with regards to her phenomenal attention span and her ability to solve visual problems using her visual motor skills. Her very high scores on her WAIS-III could be contributing to her unhappiness in her present occupation. She may feel that she is not using her strengths in the best possible fashion and that she has not lived up to her expectations.
Case Conceptualization S.L. is currently experiencing a great deal of subjective distress. Her current difficulties with depressive and anxiety symptoms are likely related to her self-concept, which has been shaped and distorted by her long-term interpersonal relationships with her family and her ex-boyfriend. The unreasonably high demands she places on herself set the stage for what she views as “failure”.
Details and behavior During this time, G admitted to having been in trouble with the law. She refused to specify the type trouble. She also reported that she got into a lot of “other” trouble due to her sexual behavior. Again, she would specify what this “other” trouble was
Initial Reports Length of papers 627-1960 words Best paper was relatively long You can check length
Referral Section Brief Guides report
General Comments on Papers Appearance example: wearing house slippers, relevant to psy functioning. Good use of quotes: Would keep cats “until it killed her”
Use examples One patient had strict parents Examples help identify where the blame lies Didn’t want to “rat” on her friends
Language Proof read. One paper good content many errors in verbs etc. Avoid slang or colloquial language (I.e., blew it off) unless they are the client’s words in quotes
Colloquial Language Kim was kicked out of college her freshman year because of poor grades. The university suspended Kim her freshman year due to poor grades.
Simple language Ms. Heather presented, in the interview, congruent behaviors to that of someone with lower self-esteem. Ms. Heather shows signs of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem may contribute to her eating problems.
Psychological Functioning Conceptualize Collect facts and observations Don’t stop there Synthesize those observations and data into a picture of psychological functioning
Strengths and Weaknesses Important to identify strengths to use and encourage
Example The client was alert and oriented to all spheres. Her affect was full range, and her mood was euphoric. Her speech rate, quality, and content were within normal limits.
Observation vs Interpretation Her calm demeanor while discussing her anxiety about graduate school, and her boyfriend suggested that this client keeps her emotional reactions to herself and maintains an intellectual stance on her personal issues.
Example Mrs. H is a 57-year-old, Caucasian, married female who presents with concerns regarding a specific goal, her future retirement in order to spend time with her grandchildren.
Passive voice Also, should his emotional situation persist or worsen, it is recommended that Andrew seeks the help of a counselor.
Referral Section vs. Summary C.S. states “this is not what I imagined doing with my life.” This dissatisfaction results in physical, emotional and social problems whose effects she seeks to minimize.
Good but can we improve? The client was very articulate and well educated, but her appearance was incongruent. She was dressed in very sloppy and causal attire.
Precise Language • Articulate • Expressing oneself easily in clear and effective language. • Redundant • Needlessly repetitive; verbose
Example When describing her family background, however, the possible use of reaction formation became evident.
Explore for data She also stated that she felt inferior and lacked confidence in herself as a teacher, but offered no substantial reason why.
Example his mood changed from enthymic to closed and quiet