Psychological Testing and Assessment

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Psychological testing can be described as a field of study in psychology that is usually characterized by use of samples of behavior with an aim of assessing psychological constructs like cognitive and emotional functioning of a given individual (Gregory, 2010). They are integral part of psychological because they form the foundation. On the other hand, psychological assessment is similar to psychological testing but they differ in the sense that psychological assessment usually involves more comprehensive assessment of the individuals that looks deeper into integration of information from different sources like test of normal and abnormal personality, intelligence tests, attitudes and interest tests, and personal interviews.

Although psychological testing and assessment gained increased use in the 20th century, it should be noted that there had been rudimentary forms of testing that dates back to more than 2200 B.C. This shows that psychological testing and assessment were used in the early civilizations but they came to be recognized in the 20th century with the advancement in science and technology.  Psychological testing and assessment developed from early psychiatry but later developments benefited from laboratories of experimental psychology. Psychiatric assessment leads to development of a number of psychological testing and assessment that became an integral part of the modern psychology.

In the recent past, psychological testing and assessment have been developed with an aim of measuring intelligence. During the 19th century, there arose a strong interest in classifying different types of mental and disabilities that lead to development of different tests. The first recognizable development in psychological testing and assessment was development of measures of central tendency and variability that were used to summarize data. This concept was integrated in the already existing tests and made them more reliability. It also led to development of concept of correlation that increased reliability and validity of psychological testing and assessment tests. This meant that development and integration of modern statistics like standard deviation and normal curve were instrumental in growth of psychological testing and assessment. The second most important milestone in development of psychological testing and assessment was development of intelligence scales (Meyer et al., 2001). This was some form of standardization in psychological testing and assessment. These tests made it possible to use statistical methods in assessing individual intelligence. The third milestone in development of psychological testing and assessment was recognition of psychological tests as tools that could do harm or good depending on how they are to be used. This means that there was recognition of the objectivity and standardization of psychological testing and assessment as a measure of sample of behavior. There was a shift from development focused approach to result-focused approach in psychological testing and assessment.

The development of psychological testing and assessment was meant to do well. This means that they are meant to serve a number of positive purposes in the field. One of the most important uses of psychological testing and assessment is describing current functioning like cognitive abilities, severity of disturbance, and capacity for independent living. They are also used to aid in differential diagnosis of emotional, behavioral and cognitive disorders. However, they are also open to a number of abuses. Different ways in which psychological testing and assessment can be abused include in forensic cases where data has been misrepresented and misinterpreted to suit the interest of one party. Considering that not many people can understand the complexities of psychological testing and assessment, they may be misused to their disadvantage. The misuse of test data can be explored in terms of assumption and motives by both legal and mental health professionals.

Question 2

Psychological testing and assessment is important in counseling in different ways. Psychological testing and assessment are integral in counseling process as they form the base for client assessment. In counseling, psychological testing and assessment are used to describe current functioning of the client with an aim of proving a clear view of the status of the client. Using psychological testing and assessment, it also becomes easier for counselors to identify the therapeutic needs for the client based on the result of the tests and assessment (Domino & Domino, 2006). This will highlight issues that may emerge in the course of therapeutic sessions and recommend the best form of intervention in this case. It is also used to identify the therapeutic needs of the client and highlight the issues that may emerge in the course of treatment. In counseling, psychological testing and assessment can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment over the time to understand whether the treatment has helped the client or not. This is beneficial in the sense that when the counselor finds drift in strategy thorough this assessment, appropriate remedies can be formulated within the shortest time possible to ensure that the original purpose of the treatment is achieved (Meyer et al., 2001). Therefore, it provides an empathic assessment feedback as a therapeutic intervention by itself.

There are different outcomes that are likely to be realized in the counseling field when psychological testing and assessment are used.  The impost important outcome understands the status of the client. According to APA ethical guidelines, counselors are required to provide services that are in the best interest of the client. This means that it is imperative that counselors understand the status of the client first before formulating therapeutic sessions. Psychological testing and assessment provides counselors with ways and means of understanding the client. Another outcome of psychological testing and assessment in counseling is giving concrete understanding of the success or failure of therapeutic process. Psychological testing and assessment before and after therapeutic sessions provides and accurate view of the success or failure of the counseling process. It provides the counselor with accurate view of success rate recorded with the therapeutic sessions as far as the client is concerned. This provides a benchmark for formation of best practices that can be replicated in other clients who presents similar conditions.

There is a marked difference between psychological testing and psychological assessment though the two are closely related (Meyer et al., 2001). If we take example of assessing client mental status, psychological testing is a straightforward process in which a given scale is administered with an aim of obtaining a specific score. The process would involve administering the scale and results might be obtained in numerical terms. On the other hand, a psychological assessment is mainly concerned with clinical aspect of taking different scores that have been obtained from multiple test methods, referral information, and historical data, observed behavior, personal interviews, and others in order to understand the person under observation in a clear manner. This process would involve use of different tools and therefore would give different measures of outcome. Finally, evaluation mainly looks the success or failure of the counseling process. This means it checks the degree to which goals and objectives have been attained. Evaluation process also uses given measures and outcome mainly assess success or failure of the therapeutic process in realm of set goals and objectives.

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This article was published on 2011/05/19