Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Meg and I got back on Monday from the Society for Personality Assessment conference in New Orleans. We left last Tuesday, and had five enjoyable days spent learning (at the various presentations, seminars, lectures, etc.), eating, and touring.

I greatly enjoy seminars put on by SPA. They take psychological assessment seriously, in a way that many others do not. SPA fought to make testing reimbursable at the same level as, say, therapy. They have been a voice of reason against unfair critics of psychological testing. And they demonstrate that, if done properly, the process of psychological assessment can have a profound therapeutic impact.

Just some examples from the conference. One study found that a two hour collaborative assessment had a greater therapeutic impact on clients than five hours of traditional "cognitive behavioral" therapy done weekly. Another study examined individuals with pain disorders that had a very high frequency of ER visits. After a comprehensive psychological assessment and group therapy, these individuals cut back on their use of medical services by over 60% in the next year. This wasn't for mental health issues, but for their actual pain -- from migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, etc.

I was also profoundly struck by the intelligence and compassion of the presenters -- how well they know their stuff, how compassionately they gave feedback to difficult clients, how powerful a combination this made in terms of therapeutic impact.

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