Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Teaching Christian Faith Integration in Psychological Assessment Courses

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Teaching Christian Faith Integration in Psychological Assessment Courses

Article excerpt

Within the existing literature that emphasizes the integration of faith and psychology, topics related to psychological assessment are rare inclusions. Yet, it is commonly recognized that assessment measures provide useful clinical information. This article highlights the domain of psychological assessment as fertile ground for integrating psychology with spirituality. Three graduate-level faculty members who each teach psychological assessment courses in a clinical training program describe specific ways they integrate Christian faith and psychological assessment in the classroom. Foci for future efforts that would bring the areas of faith and psychological assessment together are described along with some of the benefits such efforts would yield, especially for clinical practice.

An adage offered freely in psychology training programs is that effective treatment requires effective assessment. Fortunately, psychological assessment is a credible endeavor that informs treatment for many practitioners. As part of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Professional Assessment Work Group (PAWG), Meyer et al. (2001) presented results obtained from 69 meta-analyses pertaining to psychological assessment and 57 meta-analyses of testing done in general medical settings. The PAWG presented compelling evidence for both the effectiveness of psychological assessment and its comparability with medical assessment (see also Clay, 2006). Moreover, it is clear that clinicians who base their treatments only on clinical interviews have an incomplete understanding of their patients and clients (Meyer et al., 2001).

Psychological Assessment is one of the foundational competencies identified by the American Psychological Association (Fouad, Grus, C.L., Hatcher, R. L, Kaslow, NJ., Hutchings, P. S., 2009). Table 1 denotes the recommended assessment knowledge, skills, and attitudes that should be demonstrable when a trainee enters practicum, internship, and independent practice. Treatment intervention is another foundational competency domain that occupies a similar amount of space in APA's competency guidelines. However, in faith integration journals and professional conferences sponsored by organizations such as Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS), intervention dramatically overshadows assessment. A quick search of back issues of this journal from 2001 to 2013 revealed that just six published articles, of more than 100, featured psychological assessment content. Perusing conference programs of organizations focusing on the integration of faith and learning (e.g., CAPS) yielded relatively few inclusions of presentations or posters related to assessment. Why is there such an apparent void in the integration of psychology and Christianity and assessment?

TABLE 1

Suggested Assessment Competencies Domains to be Achieved by practicum,
Internsbip and Independet Practice, and "Bebavioral Anchors  (1)"

Behavioral Anchors for Different Professi onal Levels

Domain             Practicum        Internship

Measurement and    Basic            Under supervision,
Psych [C]metrics   knowledge        selects
                   of scientific    assessment
                   and              measures
                   theoretical      appropriate
                   aspects of       to common referral
                   test             questions,
                   construction     and with attention
                   and              to issues of
                   interviewing     reliability and
                                    validity

Evaluation         Basic knowledge  Awareness of
Methods            of               strengths and
                   administration   Limitation of
                   and              administration.
                   scoring of       scoring and
                   traditional      interpretation of
                   assessment       traditional
                   measures,        assessment
                   including MMSE   including
                                    technological
                                    advances

Applications of    Awareness of     Under supervision,
Methods            need to base     selects
                   diagnosis on     appropriate
                   multiple         breadth of
                   sources of       assessment tools
                   information. … 
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