Assessments, Tests and Measures

March 25, 2019

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Our course “Assessments, Tests and Measures” was designed to help us, counselors learn better assessment skills, to examine the use of tests and measures in various counseling assessment activities, and to explore assessment and test interpretation strategies from clinical and ethical perspectives. First, I have learned that determining theoretical orientation of the counselor is the critical element of the test interpretation process.

Second, I have come to realize the ways in which different target audiences and specific population groups change counselors’ approaches to test interpretation (in this context, adolescents require special attention). Third, I no longer doubt that test interpretation is the critical and probably the most responsible stage of the counseling process, for nothing but test interpretation will determine the effectiveness and relevance of the chosen counseling methodology for each and every client.

Discussions Introduction Our course “Assessments, Tests and Measures” was designed to help us, counselors learn better assessment skills, to examine the use of tests and measures in various counseling assessment activities, and to explore assessment and test interpretation strategies from clinical and ethical perspectives. Beyond the extensive knowledge we have gained during the course, we have also learned various practical skills that can be successfully utilized in different counseling settings.

Not only has the course expanded my knowledge in adult development and counseling strategies; I feel that the course has completely changed my understanding of the counseling profession as such. First, I have learned that determining theoretical orientation of the counselor is the critical element of the test interpretation process. Second, I have come to realize the ways in which different target audiences and specific population groups change counselors’ approaches to test interpretation (in this context, adolescents require special attention).

Third, I no longer doubt that test interpretation is the critical and probably the most responsible stage of the counseling process, for nothing but test interpretation will determine the effectiveness and relevance of the chosen counseling methodology for each and every client. In their book, Hood and Johnson (2006) write that “the counselor’s theoretical orientation usually determines how the test scores are interpreted to the client”. In this context, determining the counselor’s theoretical orientation is an extremely important and responsible stage of any counseling process.

Leierer et al (2008) suggest that theoretical orientation of counselors is one of the factors that predicts success and satisfaction of the counseling strategy. Taking into account that “the demand for counselors already exceeds the supply by at least 25 percent, and the number of people needed counseling and rehabilitation will rise” (Leierer et al, 2008), counselors will have to be more attentive to their theoretical orientation, to guarantee that they are able to meet the counseling needs of their clients.

Very often, counselors use the revised Strong Interest Inventory to test their skills and professional orientation. As soon as counselors are aware of their professional capabilities, interests and skills, they will be better prepared to “beginning to develop direction for the interpretation conversation with the individual” (Leierer et al, 2008). My future success in counseling will largely depend on my ability to test and determine my professional orientation; as a result, I will use available test methodology and assessment strategies to evaluate my skills.

Testing counselors’ theoretical orientation is justified by the need to promote objective and unbiased approaches to interpreting test results. I believe that this knowledge is equally valuable for all groups of patients. Bearing in mind that we are the first and probably the last whom clients choose to address when they feel emotionally disturbed, we are fully responsible for the healthy outcomes of all counseling strategies we develop and use in practice.

The situation is even more difficult with adolescents: “emotional and behavioral difficulties often interfere with adolescents’ acquisition of academic, career, and social skills” (Rudy & Levinson, 2008). Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to various types of counseling mistakes, but the current state of research does not offer any single methodology for testing and assessing adolescents in counseling. “As a result, counselors are in need for a best practices approach to working with students in need of emotional support services” (Rudi & Levinson, 2008).

The current course provides extensive information about various types of test and assessment methods (interviews, empirically based assessments, standardized rating scales, etc), and as a counselor, I will be responsible for choosing the method, which meets legal and emotional needs of adolescents with ED. Regardless the purpose or the client’s background, interpretation of test results should be as comprehensive and simple as possible, to guarantee that the client is able to grasp the meaning of the test scores, and to participate in the discussion of his test results with the counselor.

It has been found that client participation in the testing process increases the therapeutic value of the assessment itself” (Hood & Johnson, 2006), and the current course has given me a chance to re-evaluate the crucial impact, which ethical and comprehensive test interpretation as well as the choice of the appropriate test methodology may produce on the counseling outcomes. Now, with everything I have learned during the course, I have but to admit that this knowledge has substantially expanded the boundaries of my knowledge in counseling, and I feel more than prepared to apply these theoretical concepts in my future practice.

Conclusion Counseling requires extensive knowledge of testing and assessment methodology. However, it is not enough to choose and use the most appropriate assessment tools. Counselors should primarily be able to evaluate themselves, their skills, and to be prepared to communicate test and assessment results to their clients. Whether the counselor is able to achieve the anticipated treatment outcomes will also depend on his (her) ability to interpret test results in ways, which are clear and understandable to the client.