Topic 8: Appraisal of Personality {by 7/19}

Based on the text reading and lecture recording due this week consider the following two discussion points: (1) How can accurate personality assessment help the therapeutic relationship and treatment?  (2) Discuss your concerns about the continued use of projectives impact on clients and/or the mental health field.

 

Your original post should be posted by 7/19.  Post your two replies no later than 7/21.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Vear
    Jul 14, 2021 @ 11:45:49

    1) Personality assessments can help the therapeutic relationship and treatment in four different ways. For one, personality assessments help to provide clarity in identifying client problems. Once a therapist understands their client’s personality and the general ways in which they react to various situations, it can help them find patterns and identify the client’s problems. The second way in which personality assessments help the therapeutic relationship is that they help select interventions. By understanding the client’s personality, the therapist can select and choose interventions that match and work specifically for the client. Third, personality assessments also help the therapist in treatment decisions. Then finally, using they help organize the structure of the therapeutic relationship. The more a therapist learns about their client, the more they can gear treatment toward what works best for that individual as well as know how to engage and promote conversation with that individual. The client will feel more comfortable with a therapist who they feel understands them and is on their level throughout treatment.

    2) Projective techniques like the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) are old-school techniques that should no longer be used in the mental health field. The Rorschach test was made in the 20s and 30s and is widely an interpretive system that does not accurately diagnose any mental health disorders. The images are highly subjective and have not been proved to indicate any abnormality in thinking. It has been used on schizophrenia patients, but the therapist already knows that the individual has schizophrenia, meaning the test did not diagnose them. As for the TAT, this test has been known to have high negative biases and false positives. The norm group for its development did not include a wide range of cultural considerations. The images are also sexist and racist depictions that might have been considered appropriate when it was developed but are not considered appropriate and representative now. These two types of projective tests should no longer be used. Their use will not diagnose or represent a wide range of clients accurately and therefore, are no longer needed in the mental health field. There have been many more new tests that have taken their place and are better at measuring mental health disorders. These tests’ limitations are low reliability, meager validation information, lack normative data, have biases in race and ethnic factors, and require subjective interpretation for the results.

    Reply

    • Valerie Graveline
      Jul 17, 2021 @ 18:20:34

      Hi Jenn,

      I like that you brought up the fact that projective tests cannot be used for the purpose of diagnosis. It made me think that with the presence of structured personality tests that could potentially aid in diagnostic purposes, then the use of projective tests seems completely unnecessary. I also think it’s important to acknowledge that projective tests lack reliability altogether, so they would not be efficient in helping clinicians make any clinical decisions like treatment planning.

      Reply

    • Morgan Rafferty
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 12:54:27

      Hi Jennifer,
      It is really interesting exploring the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in this portion of the course. I refer to the TAT within the PSY 101 course I teach. Investigating the value of the TAT (or lack thereof) in Dr. Volungis’ course has been helpful for me as an instructor. The information I provide students regarding the TAT does mention the risk out the test being somewhat outdated (as seen in the example Dr. Volungis has posted with the white male in the suit and the black male worker). However, we explore the TAT as an instrument that investigates: motivation and the need for success, need for intimacy and need for achievement. While the tool is not used in a diagnostic manner, I teach its’ use as a way for unveiling where an individual falls on the spectrum of these needs. After being shown a photo, the individual tells a story. They score high on needs when there are themes of intimacy, achievement and success in their stories and low if those themes are not present in their narratives.

      Reply

    • Lisa Andrianopoulos
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:14:18

      Hi Jennifer,
      I agree that most projective tests are severely outdated. Yes, the Rorschach was developed in the 20’s and 30’s and I was surprised to learn that the TAT was developed in 1948!! How could they possibly be relevant and culturally fair in today’s times?? I wonder if there are any graduate programs in psychology that are still teaching them and/or emphasizing their use. Would be an interesting study, don’t you think?? If there are, I would be concerned for sure and very much interested in hearing the rationale.
      Lisa

      Reply

    • Lisa Andrianopoulos
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:15:28

      Hi Jennifer,
      I agree that most projective tests are severely outdated. Yes, the Rorschach was developed in the 20’s and 30’s and I was surprised to learn that the TAT was developed in 1948!! How could they possibly be relevant and culturally fair in today’s times?? I wonder if there are any graduate programs in psychology that are still teaching them and/or emphasizing their use. Would be an interesting study, don’t you think?? If there are, I would be concerned for sure and very much interested in hearing the rationale.
      Lisa

      Reply

  2. Valerie Graveline
    Jul 17, 2021 @ 18:08:40

    1) Accurate personality assessment can help the therapeutic relationship in that the clinician can gain a better understanding of the client holistically. As personality has many facets, different personality assessments can allow the clinician to understand the individual’s personality without bias in their judgement. Whiston (2013) states that clinicians tend to have biases when interpreting personality based on simple observation, and may run into issues such as selective recall of information, selective interpretations, etc. Thus, it is crucial to involve formal techniques of personality assessment in order for the clinician to better understand their client’s personality and situation. Whiston (2013) also discusses that personality can impact a client’s coping styles, their responses to different environmental stressors, and patterns of relationships, which is important for the clinician to acknowledge so they can understand how to go about building a stronger therapeutic relationship based on these patterns. With this said, by understanding how a client’s personality influences these factors, a clinician can tailor a treatment plan to better suit the client. However, it is important to note that the clinician should not categorize the client solely based on their personality assessment results, as personality is one of many other factors that can influence treatment outcomes.

    2) My main concern regarding the use of projective personality assessment techniques such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test or the Thematic Apperception Test surrounds the idea that there is too much room for misinterpretation of the results on the side of the clinician. With projective techniques, the clinician’s interpretation of the responses significantly influences the overall results, which makes the use of projective tests seem dangerous in even a trained clinician’s hands. As previously discussed, even for structured personality instruments the clinician’s biases can affect how they interpret results if they develop continuous themes in assessment, if they are unintentionally selective in the information they retain, etc. Therefore, with projective tests the likelihood of a clinician’s biases being involved in interpretation seems significantly higher. Though projective tests are “hard to fake” on the side of the client, the likelihood of error in the findings of these assessments suggests that projective tests should not be utilized in clinical settings.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Vear
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 13:56:14

      Hi Valerie,

      I like how you mentioned that projective techniques can have high rates of misinterpretation from the clinician. Since there is no ‘baseline’ for these tests, it is solely dependent on how the clinician interprets the results. This can result in a wide range of possibilities and interpretations or possible diagnoses for that client. This is very bad and leads to unreliable results. As you said, this can be very dangerous. The clinician’s interpretation can come from possible preconceived notions of the client or possible first impressions. That is what makes these types of personality assessments so dangerous!

      I have a question for you: Do you really think that these could be hard to fake? Do you think that the way in which a clinician presents information or asks a certain question could lead a client to lean in a particular direction? I think about those individuals who possibly want to fake being crazy, so they think of the most insane way to interpret a photograph or inkblot. Let me know what you think.

      Overall, great job explaining that!

      Reply

      • Valerie Graveline
        Jul 18, 2021 @ 15:08:55

        Hi Jenn,

        Honestly when thinking about it, I feel like projective tests wouldn’t be hard to fake. When I was writing that section I was thinking about cases where people try to plead insanity, and maybe in those instances people would really try to respond in ways they think would be alarming to the clinician. I’m glad you brought that up, because I think Whiston was saying perhaps they’re often considered “hard to fake” because there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.

        Reply

    • Katie O'Brien
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 16:00:30

      Valerie,

      Good note on how the clinician’s results may be biased. While the client might have a harder time faking through the assessment, clinician’s interpretations are subject to a lot more potential bias without a clear, reliable form of scoring. I found it interesting that the book noted even something like a fight with a family member, running late to work, etc. might influence the way the clinician interprets the results. I would think a client might similarly interpret projective assessment items, like the inkblots, differently depending on particular factors leading up to that session, like if they were feeling more down than normal due to a big fight with a loved one right before the assessment took place. The potential bias is definitely a concern of mine as well in regards to projective assessments.

      Thanks,

      Katie

      Reply

  3. Kaitlyn Tonkin
    Jul 18, 2021 @ 15:09:09

    1. Accurate personality tests can help the therapeutic relationship and treatment for many reasons. Personality tests might be useful in strengthening the therapeutic relationship because it can give the counselor an idea of what their client is like, and maybe they might have some similarities with their client. This can lead to rapport building and a stronger therapeutic relationship. As the book mentions, even interviewing and observing can be methods of personality assessment, thus, throughout the intake process, counselors can learn more about their clients and develop ways to connect with them. Accurate personality assessments might also be helpful in treatment because sometimes it can give the counselor an idea of client problems. It is likely that personality influences how one copes with problems, their needs and desires, a client’s interpersonal patterns, and their intrapersonal sensitivity. When giving a personality assessment like the MMPI-2, the results might help the counselor make a diagnosis for a personality or emotion disorder. Similarly, results from the NEO-PI-3 might help counselors better understand certain aspects of their client’s disorder. For example, certain responses that pertain to neuroticism might better explain certain a client’s symptoms. Although personality assessments are useful in treatment planning, it is best that they are used in tandem with other tools and assessments to ensure the counselor is creating a treatment plan that best fits the client and is not basing their treatment solely off personality assessments.

    2. My main concern with projective assessments like the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test is that they are difficult to interpret and there is a high level of subjectivity from the clinician or person administering the assessment. Furthermore, for many of these tests, there is not a professional consensus for how the tests should be scored or interpreted, leading to clinicians coming up with their own way of doing so. That being said, extensive training is also needed to interpret the results of these assessments, and oftentimes, people are not going to want to spend their time attending these trainings, so again, administrators are going to interpret them however they see best fit. I think it is also important to note that many projectives were created in the early 1900s and were based on early psychoanalytic theories that are not relevant today. I think that projectives might be a useful tool to use in therapy, especially for young children or those who are nonverbal. However, the subjective nature of interpretation is tricky to navigate and it is best to rely on assessments that provide concrete results in the form of raw scores or other scores that can be interpreted like percentiles or T-scores.

    Reply

    • Katie O'Brien
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 15:56:09

      Kaitlyn,

      I liked that you mentioned personality assessment can really begin during even the initial intake session through observation. We always talk about the importance of continuous assessment throughout therapy, even on an informal checking-in level, so it is good to note how we can incorporate personality assessment early on. Like you said, it would be very helpful to begin understanding your client’s personality early on to begin building rapport and the therapeutic relationship at the very beginning. It is especially important since many patients will not return after their first session and making a good “first impression” is super important. Beginning to understand the client on a personal level from the start seems like a really good way to help make sure clients come back and benefit from the sessions.

      Thanks for pointing that out!

      Katie

      Reply

    • Morgan Rafferty
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 21:55:28

      Kaitlyn,
      I appreciate you pointing out the extensive nature of training involved with Projective techniques. It does seem like a waste of time when in essence the Projective teachniques we cover in this chapter are lacking in terms of reliability, normative data and validity.
      As you mentioned, I do think that Projective techniques might be best suited for children. Those who are more apt to struggle verbalizing feelings, emotions, and sharing about trauma might find it easier opening up when Projective techniques are employed.

      Reply

    • Jennifer Vear
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 12:17:56

      Hi Kaitlyn,

      You did a really great job explaining how personality assessments can help the therapeutic relationship. I especially think it was so important when you mentioned how the MMPI-2 and the NEO-PI3 can help clinicians understand more about their clients. After taking these assessments, the clinician can see possible reasons as to why, as you said, their client responds in a particular way. That could have something to do with their personality or a personality trait that they have. I believe that after taking the assessment, the clinician should also look at the individual answers/responses, and then that can help them to make connections to what is said during their sessions. This can also help them to make treatment decisions by looking at which options could work best for that individual.
      Overall, great job on your response!

      Reply

    • Yoana Catano
      Jul 22, 2021 @ 00:12:30

      Hi Kaityn,

      I agreee with you that interviewing and observing are a way to assess personality, and that is exactly what a personality test would help to clarifiy and see more objectively. This definitely is a good tool with treatment planning and to be able to fit the best trestment. I also think that despite their importance, a clinician should decide when it is necessary and appropiate to utilize these tests, specially when there is a question or concern about personality and the client agrees in practicing this assessment to know a little bit more about themselves.

      Reply

  4. Katie O'Brien
    Jul 18, 2021 @ 15:51:48

    1) Personality assessment can help the therapeutic relationship and treatment in a number of ways. First, personality assessment can provide a “shortcut” in identifying patient problems. In identifying themes and patterns in the client regarding how they think, behave and react, for example, personality assessment can reveal areas in which a client might be struggling. Personality can also influence a number of factors about the client, like their coping styles, needs and desires, how they respond to environmental stressors, and interpersonal patterns and intrapersonal sensitivity. By exploring some of these patterns in the client, the clinician can better decide on interventions that might work best for that particular client, based on their particular set of characteristics, such as how they typically cope or handle stress. This can also help inform the clinician on how they should go about building their relationship with the client by examining typical ways they interact in other relationships in their lives. For example, some clients might prefer a more warm, empathetic approach where others may appreciate a more directive style.

    2) Projective techniques are assessments in which a client is asked to “describe, tell a story, or respond in some way to relatively unstructured stimuli.” By doing so, these types of assessments revealed personality characteristics that clients project in their responses, potentially revealing “latent, hidden, or unconscious aspects of personality.” I have a few concerns regarding projective assessments. First, there is little validity or reliability evidence for these types of assessments, so I would be wary of trusting the results completely. Next, as interpreting the results relies heavily on the judgement of the clinician, the results are very subjective. In tests where varying levels of interpretation guides are available, like the Rorschach Inkblot Test, training to use the guide is extensive and time-consuming. Because of this, most do not use the guide and we are still left with the issue of subjectivity again. In assessments such as drawing techniques, experts stress that no one sign in a drawing has only one fixed or absolute meaning. The results are so variable and dependent on how the clinician interprets them that I would be concerned with how useful they really are. Finally, I would be concerned with clinicians using projective assessments and drawing definitive conclusions or diagnoses based on an incorrect interpretation of the results, like the text suggested, a counselor who wrongly interpreted a sign of sexual abuse. This could definitely de-rail the course of treatment with a client if a clinician is focusing on the wrong issue.

    Reply

    • Valerie Graveline
      Jul 18, 2021 @ 20:48:51

      Hi Katie,

      I think it’s really important that you brought up the idea that projective tests are typically very time consuming to use. With this type of assessment being so time consuming, yet the results being completely subjective, it seems rather disadvantageous to use them within clinical practice as clinicians would be unable to draw any definitive conclusions from the results. I think in that case, it would be much more advantageous for a clinician to utilize a structured personality instrument instead because though they are just as time consuming, the validity and reliability of the assessments prove helpful for the clinician.

      Reply

    • Giana Faia
      Jul 20, 2021 @ 17:29:46

      Hi Katie,

      Thank you for sharing your concerns about projective techniques. The use of these outdated assessments comes with major concerns involving the lack of reliability and validity of them. The use of the Rorschach Inkblot has been very controversial due to the lack of evidence supporting it. I agree with your concern about how useful these assessments really are since they rely mostly on clinician interpretation. This seems very unreliable especially when these tests are administered with a lack of proper interpretation training. This seems like it would be doing more harm than good for treatment moving forward.

      Reply

    • Kaitlyn Tonkin
      Jul 20, 2021 @ 21:07:42

      Hi Kaite,

      I liked how you brought up the idea that clinicians can use personality assessments to tailor their approach with their clients. While I had thought about building rapport it was more in the sense of the clinician and the client getting along, but I had not thought about it in the way that you considered. I think it is very important to think about how someone would prefer their therapy interactions to go, whether they want a warm relationship or would prefer a distant more sterile relationship – and assessing personality is a great way to do that. Thank you for opening my eyes to that!

      All the best,
      Kaitlyn

      Reply

  5. Morgan Rafferty
    Jul 18, 2021 @ 21:46:46

    Great value can result from accurate personality assessment within a therapeutic relationship. It can provide clarity in identifying client problems, influence intervention and treatment decisions and contribute to the growth of a counseling relationship. Knowing your client’s personality is important because it will make a difference in terms of his/her coping styles, needs and desires, responses to environmental stressors, interpersonal patterns, and intrapersonal sensitivity.

    Projective techniques are unstructured. The intent of these personality assessments is less obvious than formal personality assessments. Clients are believed to “project” their personality characteristics in their responses. Proponents of Projective techniques argue they are effective in uncovering latent, hidden, or unconscious aspects of personality. My concern with these Projective methods of assessing personality and overall mental health is the extent of subjectivity in interpretation that accompanies this approach. A professional consensus on how to specifically interpret any of these techniques has yet to be achieved. There is great risk that a clinician misinterpret and wrongfully make claims about an individual. Projective techniques should only be used as a method of building rapport with a client but not used as confirming clinical diagnoses.

    Reply

    • Frayah Wilkey
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:32:33

      Morgan,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I found your perspective helpful because of your background so it seems like you already have experience with personality testing and why it is important. I also appreciated your perspective about projective because you have experience working in the field. I think your choice of the word ‘risk’ in describing the tests is on point and it really encompasses how those tests effect the field.

      Reply

  6. Francesca Bellizzi
    Jul 19, 2021 @ 12:56:10

    1. Accurate personality assessments can help treatment and the therapeutic relationship in a variety of ways. For one, personality assessments can help inform treatment by assisting in treatment decisions and are seen to be helpful in selecting interventions. Personality assessments can also help treatment as they provide further clarity in identifying the client’s problem. For example, if an individual is claiming they are depressed a personality assessment might reveal that they are pessimistic, which can further contribute and exacerbate an individual’s level of depression. Lastly, personality assessments foster structure within the counseling relationship. This is one of the most influential factors in the counseling process as having a good rapport with your client can prove to be extremely effective during the course of treatment.

    2. The use of projective techniques for assessing personality, like any assessment, have their strengths – or people wouldn’t choose to use them; however, these techniques may also have a negative impact over the course of treatment. Not only does using projective techniques impact the course of treatment, but these assessments also impact the mental health field. Research has found that project techniques have little validation information and low-reliability evidence. Using assessments that have little reliability and validity can draw negative attention to the mental health field, as it is preached that we use assessments with high levels of those particular evaluation norms. Similarly, projective techniques lack normative data altogether – which makes it next to impossible to support the idea that these assessments truly work for a specific population. Not only is there no normative data for projective techniques that may cause trouble within the mental health field, but there are also concerns with the assessment that may have a major impact on an individual’s treatment. When administering projective techniques, therapists need to have higher levels of caution when interpreting an individual’s results. This caution with interpretation reflects that it is completely subjective – as there is no interpretation scale for clinicians to use. Although there is extensive training that a therapist will go through before being able to administer personality assessments, this subjective interpretation could lead a client down the wrong path and cause a treatment plan that has nothing to do with the client’s presenting problems. Overall, there are several limitations of using projective techniques when assessing personality and it may be better for a therapist to use one of the other assessments when trying to get to the root of the client’s problems.

    Reply

    • Lisa Andrianopoulos
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:08:35

      Hi Francesca,
      I like your comment that implies that accurate personality assessment can give insight into a client’s particular problem. You gave the example of how a pessimistic personality style can help the counselor understand what might be driving the client’s depression. I agree! Having a wholistic understanding of the client in front of you can really help in strengthening the therapeutic relationship and selecting appropriate treatment options.
      Lisa

      Reply

    • Sergio Rodriguez
      Jul 23, 2021 @ 19:04:06

      Hi Francesca,
      Projective tests lack theoretical foundation, reliability, and validity, making their use even more worrying and still allowed. I agree with you that the professional should choose to use other types of evaluations to reduce the bias when grading the test, avoid therapeutic desertion, and reach the rapport we want in therapy. However, suppose we use the projective technique. In that case, we must also consider the external variables with which each client lives. In the qualification will be reflected many of the prejudices or projections of each therapist. Also, psychoanalysis leads many professionals who apply these tests to think that it is vital to consider qualifying aspects such as the strength used in the stroke, the thickness of the lines, size of the drawings or writing, type of drawing, among other factors. However, they do not consider factors like if the client has some motor difficulties or if the client presents motor restlessness or tremors by medical illness. For this reason, we must, once again, discard the projective technique in any therapeutic intervention.

      Reply

  7. Lisa Andrianopoulos
    Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:04:25

    1) According to the text, accurate personality assessment can help the therapeutic relationship and treatment because a) it provides clarity in identifying the client’s problems; b) it helps with more appropriate selection of interventions and treatment decisions; and c) it helps develop therapeutic rapport. Accurately identifying the client’s problems is essential to both the strength of the therapeutic relationship and treatment outcomes. If the client’s problems are not accurately identified, the client is left feeling misunderstood and perhaps a feeling of hopelessness ensues. This is harmful to the client, may increase the likelihood that the client drops out of treatment, and increases the probability of poor overall outcomes. Along the same lines, if the personality assessment is not accurate and/or the problems not accurately identified than it is likely that most appropriate treatment options/interventions will not be selected. Moreover, while the client may generally get along well with the counselor and vice/versa, if the counselor does not have an accurate picture/understanding of the client this will most certainly be communicated to the client in some way, whether it be through reflections, approach, nonverbal communication, etc. It seems likely that this in turn, will damage the therapeutic relationship and rapport, and lead to frustration on both sides.

    2) While there has been a decline in the use of projective assessments overall, many clinicians continue to use them. This is a concern because interpretation of projectives is highly subjective in nature. While there has been some attempt to standardize scoring procedures for some of the most popular (Rorschach, TAT, Rotter Sentence Completion), these methods are time consuming, require significant amount of training, and continue to require a fair amount of subjectivity/clinical judgement. As a result, most clinicians who use projective assessments do not utilize the scoring systems, even if they are available. There are also no universal interpretations of specific content, and a sign or expression from one client can me something very different for another. Also, according to the text, interpretations of the same content can be diverse among clinicians and in some cases, even contradict each other. As such, there is significant potential for misinterpretation. This can lead to misdiagnosis, inaccurate perceptions of the client and inappropriate treatment choices. Additionally, projective assessments tend to lack reliability and validity is limited. As the push for evidenced based assessments and treatments continue to move forward, projective assessments have little fit.

    Reply

    • Frayah Wilkey
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:28:03

      Lisa,
      I like that you brought up so many points about the overall clinical utility of using projective tests. As you mentioned, there are a lot of limitations of the assessments and they are oftentimes not the best option for clinicians. I hope to see a continued decline of their use and even popularity in social media. They seem to be the stereotypical assessments used in movies and TV so hopefully they become less seen.

      Reply

    • Sergio Rodriguez
      Jul 23, 2021 @ 18:11:25

      Hi Lisa,
      I agree with what you mention in the blog. The personality assessment is an important factor for the whole therapeutic process because with this we not only get the expertise in the personality assessment but it reaffirms its importance. This is related to the fact that either a client or a therapist expects both parties to receive the personality assessment and also to mention that when the client realizes the level of assessment and professionalism, they adhere better to the treatment. I would add to your comment the importance of the 5-factor model which gives us even more information about the client’s personality, each of the five factors gives different aspects to take into account such as level of emotionality, personality traits, emotional stability among others. To conclude, I agree that if the assessment is not done accurately we will not be able to find out what type of therapy and approach we are going to direct the intervention.

      Reply

  8. Frayah Wilkey
    Jul 19, 2021 @ 13:24:43

    1. Assessing personality can help the therapeutic process by allowing the clinician to better understand their patient. In addition to formal assessments, such as the MMPI-2, observations of the individual can provide great insight to the clinician, which will help tailor their methods to the individual’s personality. Observations should be objective and used as a tool just like any other formal assessment, which are also useful in helping the clinician understand their patient from a wholistic scope. Assessments can also help in treatment planning because they can provide additional information about the presenting problem and help guide what tools may be effective in treatment. After assessing, the clinician can understand patterns, such as sensitivity and interpersonal problems, and then they can make decisions on what treatments may best suit the individual’s personality and style. Overall, these assessments can be useful supplementary materials in therapy and can help individualize treatment planning and goals.

    2. The biggest issue with the popularity of projective tests is that they have very low rates of reliability and validity. In my opinion, it does not seem ethical to pass these tests off as having merit when they do not. Clinicians should avoid using any assessments or treatments that do not have scientific backing, and projective testing discredits the field. Of course, there are some strengths of using projective tests, but there are many limitations to consider, especially when other more effective tests exist. Techniques like ink blots and completion have shown to be less valid and reliable than other tests like the MMPI-2 so the choice should be clear for clinicians. Due to the limited clinical utility, projective should not be commonplace in the mental health field. Instead, scientifically backed assessments should be promoted and used by clinicians.

    Reply

    • Francesca Bellizzi
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 17:26:37

      Hi Frayah!

      You mentioned that the use of personality assessments can help the clinician tailor treatment to an individual’s personality. I love that thought and didn’t even begin to think of it in that way. While it is obvious that personality assessments help the clinician and the individual with the treatment process, I never considered it being useful to tailor to meet personality needs. Understanding what treatment works best definitely goes further than superficial aspects… thanks for sharing!!

      All the best,
      Francesca

      Reply

    • Kaitlyn Tonkin
      Jul 20, 2021 @ 21:33:59

      Hi Frayah,

      You bring up an interesting point about it not being ethical to administer assessments that do not have reliability or validity, which I completely agree with. I think doing so is likely to create more harm than good, even if not intended. So, clinicians who continue to use projective assessments like the TAT or Rorsarch are taking that risk of harming their clients, especially if they make an incorrect interpretation, which I feel is likely to happen due to the nature of the assessments. Thank you for bringing up this point because I had not thought about it previously!

      All the best,
      Kaitlyn

      Reply

    • Yoana Catano
      Jul 22, 2021 @ 00:22:40

      Hi Frayah,

      I agree with the statement that observations should be objective, and the help that a clinician gets from a formal personality assessment in getting that objetivity.
      During the class we have learnt that no “one-size-fits-all”, that´s why it is important to use test that could define the kind of client we have so we can provide the best treatment. If the clinician has limited assessments skills or instruments that will lead to bias or underestimate important client issues.

      Reply

  9. Giana Faia
    Jul 19, 2021 @ 14:39:06

    (1) Personality assessments in therapy can help by acting as a shortcut when trying to identify the clients problems. Having background knowledge on the client’s personality is beneficial for both treatment and interventions moving forward. Coping styles, needs, desires, response to stress in the environment, and engaged patterns can all be influenced by personality. By having a good understanding of the client’s personality, it will help clinicians in knowing what the clients like, what they don’t like, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them in treatment. Depending on their type of personality, it can impact the pace of therapy. Some people might take longer to warm up, while others are ready to dive right in. Also, getting to know the clients personality is beneficial for building rapport. The more you know about the client, the more it will help strengthen the therapeutic relationship and help us be a good match for them.

    (2) A category of formal personality assessment includes projective techniques. Projective techniques involve the client being asked to respond to unstructured stimuli. By the stimuli being unstructured, client does not know when they are being assessed, therefore limiting their ability to fake their responses. Two of these concerning techniques are the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test. The Rorschach is an outdated technique used to assess association which has no scientific support behind it. Another issue with the Rorschach is that there is a lack of training for interpretation. Due to the lack of evidence supporting the benefits of the Rorschach combined with the lack of training, this can do more harm than good for clients. The other problematic projective technique used is the TAT where clients are asked to create and tell a story based off the pictures being shown. This is another outdated test that relies on clinical experience for the results which is an unreliable form of results. Other influences can impact impact performance such as hunger or lack of sleep. These are all concerning points because the lack of reliability with these tests.

    Reply

    • Francesca Bellizzi
      Jul 19, 2021 @ 17:31:00

      Hi Giana!

      I like that you brought up the fact that because projective techniques are unstructured, the client does not know they are being assessed and therefore, limits their ability to fake responses. This is definitely something super important when assessing somebody’s personality because if this technique is being used for legal purposes it could greatly impact the results. Similarly, I agree that these techniques are outdated and the lack of training can cause more harm than good. I find it interesting that these kinds of assessments are still being used in the mental health field… thanks for sharing!

      All the best,
      Francesca

      Reply

  10. Yoana Catano
    Jul 20, 2021 @ 00:39:18

    (1) How can accurate personality assessment help the therapeutic relationship and treatment?
    Personality is usually necessary to assess in clinical settings. The treatment tends to modify aspects from the personality, and the treatment has to match appropriately to client’s needs. It is also important to go beyond the clinical observation to appraise personality, there are several instruments that can facilitate an initial screening or more profound personality aspects with more elaborated tests like MMPI.
    Personality in the therapeutic relationship can help to reach the goals of the treatment, and not only identifying aspects that could define pathology, also conditions that can facilitate the client to participate collaboratively in the process, like doing homework or having the ability to communicate better in certain ways. Despite regular human changes, personality is overall stable in the human being and it leads many decisions and behaviors. The clinician should also be aware of their own personality to recognize strengths and weaknesses in the therapeutic process.

    (2) Discuss your concerns about the continued use of projectives impact on clients and/or the mental health field.
    Projective tests have their base in psychoanalysis and a clinician that wants to use them in therapeutic setting should have the knowledge in the area. A wrong interpretation of a psychodynamic construct could lead to wrong assessment or diagnosis. If a clinician does not know what an oral stage could mean in personality could interpret a projective test in a different way, providing a client wrong results and conducting a treatment in a way that could be no effective for them.
    However, even with knowledge projective tests have difficulties with the replicability from one person to another one and It makes subjective their analysis, which makes it difficult to use it as scientifically produced. In court bring a projective test is difficult to explain even when some of the projective test have their own investigations.
    I will consider that clinicians should be careful using projective tests if they don’t have knowledge or training, but also the intention to use it should not be to diagnose or predict behaviors. Some utility should be in providing contrast to some psychometric tests or only individual meaning from the particular necessity that a person might have, like it has been seen in dreams interpretation, considering as a unique individual analysis and not a consistency repeatability.

    Reply

    • Giana Faia
      Jul 20, 2021 @ 18:02:27

      Hi Yoana,

      I like how you mentioned that treatment can be altered based on personality characteristics. Assessing personalities play a role in distinguishing what works well for the client and what doesn’t. Another important point you mentioned was that by assessing personality, it can help with getting the client to participate and communicate more efficiently during therapy. This is important for when assigning the client homework that will help us understand the issues at hand better.

      Reply

  11. Sergio Rodriguez
    Jul 22, 2021 @ 06:48:12

    1.) The assessment of personality traits helps therapist to become certain of the treatment that should be carried out for therapeutic success according to the client’s needs. Therefore, practitioners and researchers should consider the assessment and incorporation of personality measures to take into account aspects such as the five-factor model which assesses at the higher-order, the domains are labeled: Extraversion vs. introversion, agreeableness, vs. antagonism, conscientiousness vs. undependability or disinhibition, neuroticism vs. emotional stability, and openness vs. closedness to experience. The above can help us, in the clinical context, to provide insight and specificity for conceptualization and decision making.
    In addition to the above, understanding clients’ personalities help therapists by identifying and investigating the multiple treatment options such as individual therapy, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral model, systemic model, etc. All of the above in order to achieve the common goal of the client and the therapist, which is to result in greater compliance with treatment, optimal therapeutic relationship, increased therapeutic productivity, decreased clinical burnout, decreased treatment abandonment, completion of assigned self-monitoring, therapeutic empathy, optimal client-therapist relationship. Returning to what was mentioned about the five-factor model, it is also stated that the lower the level of neuroticism, the greater the possibility of adherence to treatment, since clients with high levels of this type of personality easily drop out of treatment because their dominance is to have irrational thoughts, experience deep sadness, anxiety or mood swings.

    2.) Projective tests are psychological material that was used many years ago, fortunately research in the field has already advanced which shows that there is less and less need to use them because of the inconclusive results they give. I could begin by analyzing that all professionals who grade this type of test can give it a different meaning because there is no specific rule, that detects if the client already knew how to answer the test or if according to his perception he believes he should grade it taking into account different characteristics that are presented in the test such as strength in the stroke, drawing done, presentation of the sheet, possible corrections, etc. There are several tests such as the Machover human figure test which was created in 1926 with the objective of evaluating possible sexual abuse, for this test you must draw the figure of a human being following the instructions and its qualification is deliberate by the therapist. As the above mentioned test there are many more and all involve the client to spend a considerable amount of time so you can get to present mental, physical and cognitive exhaustion, this alters the rating. Some professionals today continue to use them either for lack of tools or lack of knowledge, it is worrying because each time they add to the list more clients who fail to achieve real results which brings to mention again the issue of therapeutic success that with projective evaluation would not be achieved. To conclude my discussion, projective evaluation lacks reliability, which shows that it can be contradictory if it is applied in different parts of the world and even in cultural differences, it also does not take into account whether the client has motor difficulties, previous experience, creativity, all of which leads to a possible false positive.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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