Book Review—Psychological Testing That Matters: Creating a Road Map for Effective Treatment

Psychological Testing That Matters: Creating a Road Map for Effective Treatment is grounded in the Menninger-Topeka psychodynamic approach to testing. It fills a space between diagnostic work and clinical intervention and advances a philosophy of close alliance between those who provide test results and those who use them.

Psychological Testing That Matters lays a foundation for looking at four (and in a few cases, more than four) commonly used diagnostic tests that generate different kinds of data useful for counseling. These tests are discussed in detail, with examples of ways in which the standard administration of these tests can be augmented to discover additional information that deepens one’s ability to interpret client responses. These examples are particularly helpful to the practitioner who is reasonably new to clinical work or who may not have a deep understanding of the various tests.

Technical and specific information on the appropriate applications of the tests is especially interesting and useful. The treatment implications that are explained are good examples of the way in which the authors bring a multitude of testing data together to inform the therapeutic approach. The convergence of data is an important concept that runs through this text and illustrates for the counselor the importance of not relying on a single tool from which to draw conclusions. With precision and nuance, the authors discuss the untangling of story lines and how reserving conclusions is a way of ensuring an accurate depiction of what the data mean: “We are not rushing to conclusions,” but rather “letting connections arrange and rearrange . . . using repetition and convergence to steer the stream of ideas as they flow toward conclusions.”

Especially interesting are the ways in which the authors describe the diagnostic benefits of the test, not only for understanding the client’s ability to function in daily life, but perhaps just as importantly for understanding how the information revealed by the test administration is used to guide therapeutic strategies for engaging with the client in the therapeutic relationship by focusing on identifying circumstances that could interfere and cause a client to shut down. This is where the test results create the road map for treatment.

The organization of the material is one of the strengths of this book. It allows the reader to settle into the material comfortably and deeply, knowing the architecture of the narrative road. It also challenges the reader who may find the level of technicality, particularly in test scoring explanations, repetitive and uninspiring.

The technical diagnostic expertise and clinical prowess of the authors is remarkable and make this book a resource that many clinicians could use. However, as they insightfully acknowledge, the tools available today to simplify diagnosing and reporting also give rise to the concern that the “synthesis from a large quantity of highly complex data[,] . . . wide array of theoretically and empirically based interpretive sources[, and] . . . emotional experiences of the patient’s interior world” make this approach unmanageable in environments where counselors practice now. However, the authors do build a compelling case for the efficacy of their approach, which speaks to the art of their diagnostic and clinical work. It is clear that we may be losing an important piece of clinical competence if we lose appreciation for the knowledge the authors have mastered and share in this book.

Psychological Testing That Matters presents a multi-layered approach to effective treatment with rich case examples of many test applications. This book is important because it reinforces the appropriate uses of certain tests as one element of solid clinical diagnosis and treatment. Further, the book is accessible to a graduate-level practitioner audience in counseling and, with the elegant use of metaphors, is an engaging read.

 

Bram, A. D., & Peebles, M. J. (2014). Psychological testing that matters: Creating a road map for effective treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

 

Reviewed by: Christine Z. Somervill, University of Phoenix, Tempe, AZ.

The Professional Counselor
http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org/