Michael Stanfill

Michael Stanfill

Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University-California School of Professional Psychology, 2011

Current Positions

Psychiatric Services Manager Department of Public Health, Jail Health Services Seattle, WA, Private practice focusing on personality and forensic assessment Seattle, WA

How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

I had my Masters in counseling and worked as a therapist for several years. While I enjoyed the work I was doing, I kept thinking that I was missing important details on cases. I started referring cases to our staff psychologist for testing to help clarify various questions that arose. Very quickly I was hooked. I saw the value of assessment in the therapeutic services I could offer. Personally, I also really enjoyed the "puzzle" of trying to piece together a person's past and current functioning to answer questions that could have meaningful impact on their future.

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 currently oversee all behavioral health services for the King County Jail system in Seattle. Most of my time is spent in program development, but the clinical work I do is primarily risk assessment. While this work tends to be more actuarial-focused, there is still quite a bit characterological assessment that takes place. Additionally, I have a private practice focused on assessment. Currently, most of this work is parental fitness and civil forensic assessment. I also offer case consultation and test interpretation services, and have interests in therapeutic assessment.

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

I'm enthralled by the complexity of the human psyche. I love solving puzzles and trying to put together a comprehensive view of someone. I find it very rewarding to help others answer questions that they were having difficulty answering. When we have a better understanding of the situation, it becomes easier to solve the problem at hand. Personality assessment offers this opportunity.

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

In grad school I had the privilege to study under Dr. Don Viglione. As I got more involved with his lab I quickly found SPA. I've been a member ever since.

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

As an organization, I believe SPA has had a larger impact on my career than any other group. Early on, SPA exposed me to the vast richness of personality assessment. It afforded me the opportunity to explore and learn about a wide vary of measures, theories, techniques, and more. It has also been a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with like-minded colleagues in a variety of contexts.

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?

Moving forward I think it is crucial for personality assessment to become and remain an essential subject taught in graduate schools. In many ways, assessment is what differentiates psychologists from other mental health professionals. If this difference is lost, then the career opportunities for psychologists in the future could be very different.

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