American Psychological Association Division 12 Guidelines

The discrepancy between the real-world use of assessment and training in graduate schools is troubling and seems to be oddly encouraged by certain groups within the psychological community. For example, Division 12 of the APA (1999) set up a task force ("Assessment for the Twenty-First Century") to examine issues concerning clinical training in psychological assessment. They defined their task as one of creating a curriculum model for graduate programs that would include proper and appropriate assessment topics for the next century.

The task force, made up of psychologists experienced in various areas of assessment, was asked to recommend class topics that should be included in this ideal curriculum. They came up with 105 topics, which they then ranked according to their beliefs about their usefulness. Rankings ranged from "essential" ("no proper clinical training program should be without appropriate coverage of this item") to "less important" ("inessential and would not greatly improve the curriculum"; APA Division 12, 1999, p. 11). What is surprising about the final curriculum rankings, given the previously discussed research in the area of assessment in the real world, was that the curriculum seemed to be heavily weighted toward self-report assessment techniques, with only three class topics in the area of projective assessment: (a) Learning Personality Assessment: Projective—Rorschach (or related methods); (b) Learning Personality Assessment: Projective—Thematic Apperception Test; and (c) Learning Personality Assessment: Projective—Drawing Tests. What is even more striking is that these three classes were ranked extremely low in the model curriculum, with the Rorschach class ranked 95th in importance, the TAT class ranked 99th, and the projective drawings class ranked 102nd out of the possible 105 topics proposed. It is clear that the task force considers these topics as primarily useless and certainly inessential in the training of future psychologists. Furthermore, the low rankings then led to the omission of any training in projective techniques from the final Division 12 model syllabus. The omission of these classes leaves us with a model for training that is quite inconsistent with previously cited research concerning the importance of projective testing in applied settings and seems to ignore the needs of students and internships. This Division 12 task force appears to have missed the mark in its attempt to create a model of training that would prepare students for the future of assessment.

The Division 12 model widens the gap between training and use of assessment in applied settings instead of shrinking it. In fact, the model reinforces the division discussed previously between psychologists in academia and those in the field. Abetter approach to designing a model curriculum of assessment training for the future would be to combine topics relevant to the application of assessment in the real world with those deemed relevant by academicians. Data from research concerning the use of assessment demonstrate that a multidimensional approach is most valid and most useful in providing worthwhile diagnostic and therapeutic considerations of clinicians. This point must not be ignored due to personal preferences. The Division 12 model of assessment training demonstrates that even as late as 1999, models of training continued to be designed that ignored the importance of teaching students a balance of methods so that they would be able to proceed with multifunctional approaches to assessment.

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