Alissa Sherry

Alissa Sherry

Counseling Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, 2001

Current Positions

Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology, University of Texas at Austin. Private Practice in Forensic Psychology

How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

I actually did a very intensive master's program in assessment at a smaller state school (Austin Peay State University). We had 4 different assessment courses and then when I did my PhD I took a Rorschach class. At that point, I had more assessment courses than practically anyone else. In addition, not a lot of counseling psych folks have a lot of assessment. So that combination kinda transformed me into the "assessment expert" in my counseling psych circles. On a personal/professional level, the structure of assessment (especially Rorschach) helps me understand people better. I appreciate the objective information that essentially comes from the client instead of relying purely on my own personal clinical judgment, which could very well be my own projections.

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 teach a course in Objective Assessment in our Ph.D. program at UT. I also conduct (mostly family law) forensic evaluations in the Austin, TX community.

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

Again, I LOVE working with the Rorschach. The most interesting part of that work over the years has been seeing the "interaction effects" that come from people's Rorschachs/personalities and how those play into the family conflict and divorce dynamics in my family law cases. In so many ways, it is like finding how two puzzle pieces fit together to create a coherent picture of the family narrative. In family law, the MMPI and PAI can have little utility because of the positive impression management. When it is useful, it is only slightly so. I think of it as the MMPI and PAI giving you a couple of snapshots of someone's functioning, but the Rorschach turns it all into film - it creates movement to the narrative that is so helpful in explaning family dynamics (and in turn helping to find solutions to family problems).

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

I don't remember! :). I think a colleague suggested it when I first started teaching at UT, but beyond that I can't remember.

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

It is a wonderful organization. It is small enough to be able to not only meet people but to get to know them as colleagues and friends, but also large enough to have a great diversity in things to learn and perspectives in the field. It is science based and progressive. It has given me a great home base for my teaching and practice. It is the only conference I go to anymore!

As we look forward to SPA's 100th anniversary in 2038, what do you think is important in order for the field of personality assessment to thrive and to benefit others?

Continue to keep supporting and improving on the Rorschach. The R-PAS is a fantastic iteration of this instrument. As we really think of the future, I think there may be a place to understand personality through computers and decision making in virtual reality scenarios (since we are talking about 22 years from now). As much as we can integrate technology in what we do, I think we can continue to be at the forefront of personality assessment.

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