UAR Project


The SPA Foundation Board is working on behalf of all assessment psychologists to support research on the practical utility of clinical assessment practice. Despite all the evidence that is regularly published supporting the validity of personality test scales, including in the pages of our Journal, there are virtually no data available on the applied value of what we do in clinical practice.

The 2009-2010 UAR-funded project is An Investigation of Personality Assessment with Challenging Psychotherapies, by Steven R. Smith, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara. A brief description follows.

There are times in all forms of psychotherapy when patients and therapists feel “stuck,” challenged, and that the work is not progressing as well as might be hoped. Such challenges may be due to patient factors, therapist factors, or the match between them. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utility of a therapeutic model of assessment (TMA; Finn, 2007; Finn & Tonsager, 1992, 1997; Fischer, 1994; Hilsenroth & Cromer, 2007) to inform challenging psychotherapies. Given the empirical evidence that TMA aids in the formation of working alliance in early psychotherapy (Ackerman, Hilsenroth, Baity, & Blagys, 2000; Hilsenroth & Cromer, 2007; Hilsenroth, Peters, & Ackerman, 2004), it is expected that a therapeutic assessment intervention will help inform both patients and therapists who are challenged by the work of psychotherapy. This study will rely on a randomized experimental design. Patients seen for psychotherapy in private practice settings, community outpatient clinics, and a college counseling center will be randomly assigned to a TMA condition or a consultation (CON) condition. In both conditions, clinicians will provide a collaborative feedback session with both patient and therapist present. Dependent variables will include assessments of alliance, session evaluation, psychotherapy process, psychological symptoms, feelings of well-being, self-esteem, and therapist activity. It is hypothesized that patients and therapists in both the TMA and CON conditions will find the interventions useful and informative, but that TMA will result in greater improvements in alliance, changes in therapeutic technique, and improvements in patients’ feelings of well-being and self-esteem.

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