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Ronald J. Ganellen

Ronald J. Ganellen

University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL,1983


Current Positions

Private Practice Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine


How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

When I graduated from college, I was certain I would become a Gestalt therapist. While I was in graduate school, I planned to become a researcher. When I was on internship and working with patients, I got a taste for how psychological testing worked. But it was my first job, at a medical center, that I really began to appreciate how valuable assessment can be. The value personality assessment added was hammered home when I evaluated a woman who had landed in the ER after making a suicide attempt. The staff's response was to load her up with antidepressants as quickly as possible. But the test data showed she was not depressed, but rather was unable to express how angry she was at her husband, who travelled a good deal, and how her sense of identity had been destabilized when her youngest child left for college. These were issues she was not able to articulate or express. Viewing the suicide attempt through the prism suggested by the test data, rather than through the lens of a diagnosis of depression, catalyzed a very different treatment approach and led to to significant changes in this woman's relationship with her husband and her ability to begin to own and give voice to feelings and needs she had previously suppressed. I am very certain that these issues would not have become the focus of treatment, at least not at that point in time, without input from the psychological evaluation. Not only did the staff find the test results valuable, but it reinforced my belief that testing worked. This was one of the cases that clinched my interest in personality assessment and spurred me to try to develop my knowledge and skills at doing psychological evaluations.

Tell us about your current job. We are interested in hearing about the different things that people do who work in the area of personality assessment.

I am someone who has always thrived on variety. I'm engaged in a number of diverse professional activities in my practice including seeing patients for dynamically oriented psychotherapy, neuropsychological evaluations, and personality assessment. During a week I may do evaluations to assist with differential diagnosis, assist with treatment planning, and assess damages claimed in a personal injury or workman's compensation case. I also regularly do evaluations of people who question whether problems with attention, concentration, and memory are signs of Adult ADHD, an area in which there is a high likelihood of co-morbid psychopathology, personality disorders, and alcohol and/or substance abuse. These are often cases in which the results of personality assessment contribute as much or more than determining whether or not the individual has ADHD.

What are the most interesting and/or meaningful aspects of your job?

The most interesting part of my job is the people I have the privilege of seeing. Listening to them talk about their lives opens windows into experiences and slices of society I would otherwise have no exposure to. The other part of being an assessment psychologist that I find stimulating is struggling to figure out what the numbers from the assessment instruments I've administered mean. There is a process, maybe an alchemy, in which as I think through those scores, a picture of a person's psychological make-up, their strengths, vulnerabilities, conflicts, and dynamics, emerges. I never fail to be amazed at how those numbers, those black and white numbers on a page, can lead to developing a deeper, clearer conceptualization of a person.

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

Like many others, I learned about SPA while attending workshops taught by John Exner, Irv Weiner, and Phil Erdberg. They made the data from psychological evaluations come alive and introduced me to some of the complexities of doing assessment well, and not being content with doing cookie-cutter interpretations. What they taught made me hungry to learn more about psychological evaluations and have the chance to be exposed to other experts in the field - and clearly, the place to do that was, and still is, SPA!

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

I always walk away from the SPA annual meeting with a new kernel of knowledge or find I've been challenged to re-think something I took to be the "truth." That has been valuable because it has forced me to examine my assumptions and to grow. Perhaps just as importantly, being involved in SPA has provided a community of colleagues who are as hooked on assessment as I am. On a practical level, that means I can pick up the phone or e-mail someone when I have a particularly knotty question or need a reference. It is always a pleasure to attend the annual meeting and share not just a glass of wine or a dinner, but a passion for developing the art and science of personality assessment.

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Membership in SPA offers many benefits - Subscription to the Journal of Personality Assessment, Research, Advocacy, Interest Groups, Exchange Newsletter, Annual Convention and more!

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Receive 6 Issues of the prestigious JPA Journal each year.

Proficiency

The American Psychological Association (APA) officially recognizes Personality Assessment as a Proficiency in Professional Psychology. SPA has taken lead role in developing and implementing Personality Assessment Proficiency

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Ask your favorite personality assessor what the biggest personality assessment convention is, and he/she will tell you it's the Annual Convention of the Society for Personality Assessment. Ask him/her what the best personality assessment convention is, and he/she will tell you it's the Annual Convention of the Society for Personality Assessment, held every March in a different city.

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Each April, candidates statements and a Ballot for electing new members to the Board of Trustees is made available to Members, Fellows, Life Members or Life Fellows by the Nominations and Elections Committee. The persons elected to the Board take office in September.

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The Society for Personality Assessment YouTube channel offers full-length lectures from past annual conventions and expert speakers in the field of personality assessment. A great resource to expand your knowledge.

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How Therapeutic Assessment Works: Theory and Techniques - Presented by Stephen E. Finn, PhD. In this webinar, Dr. Stephen Finn, the main developer of Therapeutic Assessment, will explain the techniques of TA and how they relate to TA’s underlying theory of client change. This session is particularly suited to those who are new to TA, including graduate students, or who wish to deepen their understanding of its therapeutic mechanisms.

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