Psychological Report Writing

I'm not the world's leading expert on assessment, never claimed to be and don't really want to be that person.

The second thing that an evaluator should require is for copies of all past evaluations (including social, emotional, learning/cognitive, psycho-motor, neurological and neuropsychological, speech/language, physical and occupational therapy, and medical) to be made available for review.

This information, the question and the history, provides the context in which the psychologist operates when designing and conducting the evaluation.

For this reason a psychological report needs to include accurate, objective, timely, and useful information in a manner in which a reasonably well informed lay-person can access.

When an evaluation is written in jargon or does not include enough information it it then easy for any of these consumers to take the wrong information from the evaluation and make decisions based on this mis-information.

There are some specific learning issues that go along with premature birth, and so if this report remained in the file and the child went to school with it available to the teachers it might have undercut the appropriate evaluation of that child for learning problems.

So why is it that so many reports are inadequate, bad, or just plain wrong?More often than not such "gunners" would thank me for having done the "projectives" even when none were conducted or included in the report!The right tool for the right job should be the watch words of anyone psychologically evaluating anyone under any circumstances.Most of the time I would just talk with the physician and ask them what they were thinking and what question they wanted answered and then tell them I would do such-and-such tests and that worked out fine.Occasionally I would run into a real "gunner" who would reiterate their "order" for "projectives" and instead of butting heads with them I would read as much about the patient as I could (in order to develop a context) and do the tests I thought appropriate.The problem is that often one needs to look deeper into what may be contributing to the problem or what the child is capable of in order to maximize the help provided to that child.I've taught psychological assessment to doctoral candidates in clinical programs, supervised pre-doctoral practica and post-doctoral fellows on assessment, and worked with a variety of non-doctoral level psychometrists over the years.In the second, the examiner can present a battery of devices (tests) which do not address the areas of concern (either completely enough or at all).When asked to evaluate a student the first question that should be asked is "Why? What is the "referral question" that the person asking for the report wants answered - essentially why did they think an evaluation by a psychologist would be helpful and what specifically are they looking for from the report.Early in my career I worked in several medical settings with physicians.Now physicians know a great deal about the biology of behavior and the drugs that can be used to alter behavior, thought, and emotions but they know darn little about psychological assessment and formal psychometrics because they just aren't trained in those areas.


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