John H. Porcerelli

John H. Porcerelli

Clinical Psychology, University of Detroit, 1990

Current Positions

Psychologist in Private Practice

How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

My interest in personality assessment began with assessment courses in graduate school at the University of Detroit. It was exciting to hear seasoned clinicians analyze responses from the Rorschach, TAT and Early Memories Test and integrate them into a complex picture of a person. I was fortunate to do 3 practicum years at the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit. The clinic was known for its groundbreaking studies in schizophrenia in the 70s and 80s and for its state-of-the-art treatments for severe mental illness. We were required to completed two full test batteries each week - the supervision was excellent! My dissertation combined my interests in implicit measures of psychopathology (e.g., TAT & Rorschach), the MMPI, and the WAIS-R. I did a construct validity study of an object relations scale for the TAT. My interest in personality assessment was cemented when I did a 2 year post-doctoral fellowship with Martin Mayman, PhD, the developer of the Early Memories Test and numerous Rorschach scales. He was one of the pioneers of object relations assessment. Listening to him think through a test battery was almost magic!

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 have held an academic position and been in private practice for the last 20 years. In academia, I'm a professor in the Department of Family Medicine & Public Health Sciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and provide behavioral science training to family medicine residents. In addition to my teaching responsibilities with physicians, I supervise practicum students in our Primary Care Health Psychology Practicum. Doctoral students work alongside family medicine residents in our clinic, provide assessments, psychological testing, and short-term therapy and behavioral health interventions to medical patients. The pace in a primary care medical clinic is very fast and the assessments are brief and targeted. Our screening batteries include a WASI-II, WRAT-4, TRAILS A & B, St. Louis Mini Mental Status Exam or MOCA, Personality Assessment Screener, and screening measures for the common disorders seen in primary care (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, and ADHD). Turn-around time for test reports is 1 day! In addition to my teaching, supervising, and administrative responsibilities, I maintained an active research program that combines my interests in health, healthcare utilization/costs, personality, and psychodynamics. Several studies in our clinic have been in collaboration with SPA members such as Drs. Steve Huprich, Bob Bornstein, John Kurtz, and Ray Kamoo. In my private practice I do a variety of psychotherapies (psychodynamic, CBT, prolonged exposure therapy) and traditional assessment with adults, adolescents, and children. For several years I have conducted IMEs for military veterans applying for PTSD-related disabilities.

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

I feel very fortunate to be a clinical psychologist. My 12 hour days involve combinations of clinical and health psychology assessments and interventions, collaborative research and writing, administrative work, and teaching of both physicians and psychology trainees. I can honestly say that these activities rarely feel like work!

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

I became aware of JPA in graduate school, but was introduced to SPA by the director of my post-doctoral fellowship and one of SPA's distinguished members, Dr. Martin Mayman. SPA has an annual award in his honor for a distinguished contribution to the literature in personality assessment.

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

I consider SPA my professional home. The relationships that I have developed through the years of attending the meetings have been enriching and invaluable to me as a professional psychologist. I have learned so much from submitting papers to and reviewing papers for JPA, attending and giving SPA seminars and symposia, and from the numerous informal discussions I have had about assessment and research with SPA colleagues.

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?

Testing is what sets psychology apart from all other mental health disciplines. I believe that personality assessment has to focus on issues of ecological validity. We need to demonstrate the added value of doing assessments not only in mental health settings but also in primary care medical settings.

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