Journal of Projective Psychology and Mental Health: Volume 24, Number 2, July 2017 Editorial
|1. Editorial: The Linchpin on the Future of Projective Techniques: The Precarious Status of Personality Assessment in the (overcrowded) Professional Psychology Curriculum, Chris Piotrowski, page 71- 73.
Literature reviews regarding practice settings have indicated that, historically, projective methods/techniques (hereon, PT) have been popular clinical tests and relied upon assessment tools in the mental health field in the USA. However, the same cannot be said for clinical/professional academic programs where the professional views of training faculty toward PT have been somewhat contentious, particularly over the past decade. My intention here is to summarize recent survey-based findings on use of PT which should provide a candid perspective on where the status of PT may be in 10 years. There is very recent evidence that projective assessment is currently a rather neglected evaluation approach by professional psychologists, with the exception of the Rorschach; however, these data were based on very low response-rate (i.e., 17%; see Wright et al., 2017). At the same time, survey data from South America, point to the central role of PT in the assessment process in such countries like Brazil and Bolivia (this issue). The same can be said for Japan, but not Australia. Interestingly, despite a strong psychoanalytic bent, historically, PT are rather ignored in most European countries. Thus, the emerging picture is that PT have pockets of enthusiastic proponents worldwide, with the caveat that support for PT appears to be gradually diminishing, particularly with the recent surge in interest with the evidence based assessment climate that has permeated the general field of psychological assessment (Bornstein, 2017). Another key factor in the diminutive status of some PT has been the proliferation of abbreviated personality tests and brief symptom-focused scales, evident in the contemporary assessment of scholarly literature. Despite these strong headwinds, it is also quite apparent that the death knell for PT has been rather premature, largely reflected in continued research attention directed toward PT by a small minority of devoted followers and proponents who claim that performance-based testing provides both clinical and ecological value to the assessment process. Thus, the present status of PT has fallen from the apex of popularity of the mid-1900s, but strong remnants of that former heyday still remain. Based on this robust history, the imperative question is: What is the indispensable requisite that will have the greatest impact on the status of PT in the field of psychological assessment in the future? The linchpin: Graduate-level clinical/ professional training: My major thesis is that the most salient factor in the sustainability of professional interest in PT is the degree of emphasis in graduate level training with these types of assessment methods, i.e., if faculty do not inspire graduate students in personality assessment, then the next generation of practitioners will undoubtedly not likely consider PT as useful clinical tools in the assessment enterprise. In fact, research data, over the past decade, clearly suggest that the lofty status of personality assessment in the professional psychology curriculum is under serious threat (see Evans & Finn, 2017). Moreover, recent survey-based studies of academic training programs point to a stark diminutive emphasis with PT, compared to test use surveys a decade earlier (see Piotrowski, 2015a). Although several surveys on assessment training in APA clinical psychology have been recently reported, the findings have been contradictory with reference to PT; moreover, the response-rates were rather low (about 33%); this vexes the question-- What is the overall status of personality assessment in the two-thirds of non-respondent programs?
Researchers fail to ask the critical question regarding how much instructional time or coursework are devoted to teaching clinical students specific PT. There are limited recent data in this regard pertaining to professional psychology programs. Noteworthy, a recent dissertation study of doctoral training (Kohns, 2016) found substantial hours devoted to projective techniques (30 hrs.) in assessment courses, 26 hours in the Rorschach CS, and 30 hours in R-PAS. Very recent data from internship settings point to reduced levels of emphasis with PT (Stedman, 2017). In a 2016 study, internship directors reported diminished training emphasis with PT, but (curiously) encouraged pre-internship instruction with these assessment methods. Another central issue concerns the perennially-overcrowded graduate clinical professional curriculum--How can students become competently versed (i.e., adequately trained) in individual psychological tests in order to a) enter internship adequately trained in specific types of tests and b) adhere to high standards of competency in assessment?—a major concern espoused by leaders in the field. I contend that few could argue against the training emphasis-practice emphasis nexus regarding psychological testing and assessment. For example, if focus on integrated report-writing is neglected in training, it stands to reason that the quality of professional assessment reports will undoubtedly suffer. A critique frequently noted by internship directors. If faculties do not inspire graduate students on the utility that psychological tests can potentially contribute to clinical effectiveness, then advanced students will tend not to appreciate the robustness and value of psychological tests in both psycho-diagnostics and treatment. Following this logic, if personality assessment is ‘Thriving’ in clinical psychology training (as promoted in the literature recently), then graduate students’ interest in testing should also be thriving. Thus, today’s clinical students should be engaged in research on specific assessment tools, just like earlier cohorts of clinical students (pre-1990). To illustrate my contention that projective methods are currently in a diminutive state in training, I performed a keyword search (test mentioned in Abstract) of the ProQuest Dissertation/Thesis database for several major PT. Table 1 below shows that, across the past 4 decades, it is in the past several years that there has been a notable precipitous decline in graduate students’ research interest in projective assessment. Interestingly, this decline is also concurrently reflected in survey data regarding specific usage of performance-based methods in practice settings since 2007.
In conclusion, the evidence from the professional literature, based on recent survey-based data in the USA: a) points to a sharp decline in intensive instruction with projective techniques in pre-internship academic training over the past decade, and b) a noticeable decline during internship training in the past 5 years. Gazing into the future, as assessment faculty leave the scene, replaced to some extent by clinical faculty with divergent academic interests; the nature of the assessment enterprise may be quite different than it has been in the past. It is disheartening to conclude that proponents of personality assessment, particularly those who embrace projective techniques, will not find a welcome home in the academy (Piotrowski, 2015b). Finally, while findings on test usage from countries outside the USA are available, there is a dearth of data on the status of PT in academic doctoral training worldwide. In order to address this gap in the literature and to determine faculty and students’ views toward PT in university programs overseas, such data are sorely needed.
How Can PT navigate these threatening headwinds? I offer several proactive strategies:
Continue to publish empirical findings supporting the psychometric properties of individual PT.
Design studies that clearly show the clinical value and utility that PT provide in idiographic assessment, progress in treatment, and therapeutic outcome; Such findings should support the ecological validity of performance-based assessment.
Provide rapid-publication, based on both empirical research and insightful commentary, to counter any biased, unsubstantiated critiques of PT that appear in prominent journals; In the past, there were only limited and rather tardy rebuttals to the barrage of incisive, selective disparagement of PT. Prominent among those providing sound scholarship in defense of PT has been Dr. Irv Weiner (see Weiner, 2013); but the field needs to hear from other seasoned proponents of PT as well.
Assessment faculty in clinical/professional programs must take a strong stand to not exclude didactic/practicum coverage of PT, despite departmental pressures toward inclusion of the myriad of emerging ‘specialization’ subject areas in professional psychology; Advocates need to provide evidence from the research literature to substantiate their position.
Faculty with an interest in PT should also encourage and support the general field of personality assessment, since disparagement of ‘personality’ testing by critics can only foster academic disinterest in PT (see Evans & Finn, 2017, for an excellent review). Collaboration and cohesiveness are essential. Both academic and practicing proponents of PT should strive to include projective assessment when the topic of evidence-based psychological assessment is discussed and presented in scholarly articles.
Finally, PT proponents should encourage and embrace efforts to provide interested colleagues and newly-minted clinical graduates with opportunities for intensive study on PT via workshops and individual mentoring, outside of the academy.
The SIS Journal of Projective Psychology & Mental Health has been a significant publication outlet since 1994 for academics, researchers, and clinicians using PT in personality assessment, case studies and therapeutic intervention. Articles published in the journal are indexed in scholarly academic databases such as PsycINFO, Proquest, and EBSCO. Interested authors are encouraged to submit manuscripts of their research to Chris Piotrowski (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Chris Piotrowski, Ph.D. Senior Editor, University of West Florida, Email: email@example.com
2. Efficacy of a Case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Wilfred A. Cassell and Bankey L. Dubey, pages 74- 82.
The case study involves a technician (welder)who works on the North Slope in Alaska in the oil field. He was in the tank to repair it. He lit the torch, and there was an explosion? He has been in treatment for a few weeks, for the major trauma he had just over a year ago. The Somatic Inkblot Series Card version and Video version were administered to him and the inkblot images brought on the surface unprocessed, painful material. The SIS images helped as therapeutic aid and Jim showed fast improvement.
3. The Status of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) in Training and Practice: Evidence from the Emerging Literature, Chris Piotrowski, pages 83-90.
Survey-based „test use‟ studies in the 1990s found that the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) was not a highly ranked test in the assessment of personality and psychopathology (e.g., Watkins et al., 1995). However, Piotrowski (2000) reported that the PAI was indeed a well-respected and emerging psychological instrument in both training and practice settings. Since 2000, there have been a number of self-report tests, symptom-specific scales, and „brief‟ assessment instruments introduced in the personality/psychopathology domain. Moreover, in recent years, there has been a diminutive emphasis with projective techniques (Bates, 2016; Piotrowski, 2015). Noteworthy, regulatory restrictions on the feasibility of providing multimethod assessment services have also been a headwind in professional practice (Piotrowski, 1999). Due to these challenges to psychological testing practices, over the past 2 decades, a robust examination on the status of the PAI seems in order. To that end, the author identified, through an extensive literature review, survey-based studies with regard to personality assessment that reported on graduate-level training in psychological testing and test usage patterns from 1995-2017. This search yielded 35 articles and dissertation studies which served as the data pool for the current review (Training settings, n=10; Practice settings, n=25). The current analysis indicated that 47% of the 15 studies since 2007 reported that the PAI has been: a) recognized and relied upon to a high degree in both assessment training and practice, and b) embraced by clinical and neuropsychologists, but rather neglected by counseling and school psychologists. Notably, the PAI is a well-respected and preferred assessment instrument in the sub-specialty of forensic psychology. These findings point to the fact that in the USA, among broadband instruments, the PAI currently ranks second (behind the MMPI-2) in popularity, and has surged ahead of the Millon inventories and the NEO-PI in the past 10 years in terms of widespread acceptance. At the same time, the PAI has not made its mark in practice settings in countries outside the USA, based on the findings of recent survey-based studies from overseas (Egeland et al., 2017; Evers et al., 2012; Wechsler et al., 2014).
4. The Value of Projective/Performance-based Techniques in Therapeutic Assessment, Hale Martin and Marita Frackowiak, pages 91- 95.
Psychological assessment and projective/performance-based assessment in particular, has seen a decline in recent years, both in training and clinical use. This trend is alarming and raises concerns about the loss of important clinical tools and its effect on the field of psychological assessment as a whole. In this article, we discuss two ways in which this shift affects the practice of psychological assessment: 1) loss of clinically important information accessed only with projective/performance based methods and, 2) loss of an opportunity to connect with clients and help them see aspects of their lives through therapeutic and collaborative use of projective/performance based measures, as practiced in Therapeutic Assessment.
5. Zulliger, Wartegg and Personality Research Form (PRF) Tests as Predictors of Investment Performance, Joachim von Weissenberg, pages 96-108.
This article explores the utility, validity and reliability of three psychological tests in predicting fund managers investment performance. Two of the psychological tests-the Zulliger and Wartegg tests-represented implicit psychological motives. The third test-the Personality Research Form (PRF)-represented explicit psychological motives. Investment performance was measured by analyzing the five-year risk adjusted performance of forty professional fund managers in Finland. The finding of the present work was that the Zulliger Test predicted 45.4 %, the PRF predicted 25.4 % and the Wartegg Test predicted 8.3 % of the investment performance. The combined three-test prediction percentage of investment performance was 55.0 %. One of the conclusions of this study is that implicit motives have been neglected in behavioral finance research.
6. Assessment Practices of Psychologists in the Mental Health System in Bolivia, Marion K. Schulmeyer and Chris Piotrowski, pages 109-115.
While copious survey-based data on test usage worldwide have been published, there is limited research available on assessment practices in mental health settings in South America. To address this gap in the literature the current study focused on psychological testing practices in a sample of psychologists working in the mental health system in Bolivia. Based on a structured survey, 44 psychologists were interviewed regarding tests used in the areas of projective, objective (self-report) personality, and behavioral assessment. The top instruments were: Drawing techniques, TAT, Rorschach, MMPI, and Beck Inventories. In addition, there was strong emphasis on assessment using DSM diagnostic criteria. Moreover, our sample felt that these instruments would continue to be popular in the future. These findings corroborate scholarly reports on the continued reliance on both projective and self-report assessment practices worldwide (Piotrowski, 2015). Future studies, across nations in South America, should focus on graduate-level educational and training emphasis in mental health assessment so as to gain a perspective on emerging trends, internationally, in psychological testing.
7. Personality and Investment Performance: A Financial Risk Attitude, Stress Tolerance and Complex Problem-Solving Perspective, Joachim von Weissenberg, pages 116-132.
The article presents empirical results of forty fund managers‘ implicit and explicit motives in relation to five year risk adjusted investment performance. The first step of the study was to create composite variables from three personality tests: Zulliger, Wartegg and Personality Research Form (PRF). Three composite variables were created of the implicit and explicit personality variables: financial risk attitude, stress tolerance and complex problem solving. The finding of the present work was that financial risk attitude, stress tolerance and complex problem solving explained 53.8% of the investors‘ five year performance. All three composite variables correlated significantly to a five year period consisting of a rising and descending market. The conclusion of the study was that fund managing is suitable for certain personality characteristics, implicit motives have been neglected in behavioral finance, fund companies should review their assessment procedures and individual thinking and distress management should be fostered to enhance performance.
8. Optimism Index: A Screening Tool for Mental Health, Padmakali Banerjee, pages 133-134.
Mental health and emotional stability are very important factors in everyday life. In order to improve emotional mental health, one needs to understand the present status of one‟s mental health in the context of developing resilience and fortitude in dealing with the dynamic environment. Our emotional mental health has a direct bearing on our personal and professional productivity.
9. Cognitive Drill Perspective on the Nature of Stimulus in Anxiety Disorders, Rakesh Kumar and Bankey L. Dubey, pages 135-136.
Cognitive Drill Therapy (CDT) has emerged as an efficient procedure of psychological treatment for anxiety spectrum disorders specifically phobia and OCD. It uses a straightforward conceptualization of stimulus bound anxiety. A stimulus triggers a threat perception which elicits sympathetic arousal leading to safety behaviors in the form of avoidance and behavioral attempts to prevent perceived threatening outcomes. The paper shares our perspective on the nature of stimulus in anxiety disorder and utilization of Cognitive Drill Therapy.
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