And so we begin the new semester today. I’m teaching Psychological Assessment tonight to our advanced professional counseling students (recent grads looking to complete licensure courses). Psych assessment covers a wide variety of formal and informal assessment techniques for counselors. Among them are the use and interpretation of psychological tests. It is my experience that most people with superficial exposure to psychological tests have one of two responses
1. Inordinate value of testing and what it can do
2. Inordinate suspicion of testing and what it can do
Most of these responses come from quick reactions to some personal exposure to tests. Those who give too much value to tests may have taken a test and had it “nail” them. For instance, someone takes the Myers-Briggs (MBTI), finds out they are an INTJ and that it explains why they nearly lose their mind around their boss who is an ESFP. Those who are suspicious of testing often have had a bad experience of testing (test mis-use, a negative evaluation or they have had a course that exposes them to the weaknesses of some test construction and research.
The truth is that tests do have both limits (some way more than others) and value. Never underestimate the power to abuse a test or the data that comes from one. A relative of mine once was turned down from a job because some wacko decided he had repressed issues from a simple drawing.
However, those who say that they can get all they need from a clinical interview fail to recognize the value of learning how one functions in comparison to a large sample of peers. And several data points like that can really flesh out a personality or learning profile.
I’d be curious to hear reader’s experiences with testing (their administration and/or interpretation). Did you have a positive or negative experience and why?