The Handbook of Psychological Assessment is designed to develop a high level of practitioner competence by providing relevant practical, as well as some theoretical, material. It can serve as both a reference and instructional guide. As a reference book, it aids in test selection and the development of a large number and variety of interpretive hypotheses. As an instructional text, it provides students with the basic tools for conducting an integrated psychological assessment.
The significant and overriding emphasis in this book is on assessing areas that are of practical use in evaluating individuals in a clinical context. It is applied in its orientation, and for the most part, I have kept theoretical discussions to a minimum. Many books written on psychological testing and the courses organized around these books focus primarily on test theory, with a brief overview of a large number of tests.
In contrast, my intent is to focus on the actual processes that practitioners go through during assessment. I begin with such issues as role clarification and evaluation of the referral question and end with treatment planning and the actual preparation of the report itself. Although I have included some material on test theory, my purpose is to review those areas that are most relevant in evaluating tests before including them in a battery.
One of the crucial skills that I hope readers of this text will develop, or at least have enhanced, is a realistic appreciation of the assets and limitations of assessment. This includes an appraisal of psychological assessment as a general strategy as well as an awareness of the assets and limitations of specific instruments and procedures.
A primary limitation of assessment lies in the incorrect handling of the data, which is not integrated in the context of other sources of information (behavioral observations, history, other test scores). Also, the results are not presented in a way that helps solve the unique problems clients or referral sources are confronting.
To counter these limitations, the text continually provides practitioners with guidelines for integrating and presenting the data in as useful a manner as possible. The text is thus not so much a book on test interpretation (although this is an important component) but on test integration within the wider context of assessment. As a result, psychologists should be able to create reports that are accurate, effective, concise, and highly valued by the persons who receive them.