Much of the confusion and controversy traditionally surrounding the use of the MMPI with adolescent respondents has resulted from the application of this instrument without an adequate understanding of the unique characteristics of adolescent development.
Unfortunately, many clinicians and researchers have attempted to interpret adolescents’ MMPI profiles using procedures that have been established for the assessment of adults. There are areas of interpretation in which the approach developed for adults will work effectively in the understanding of adolescents’ responses.
There are also numerous areas, however, in which the use of practices or procedures derived for adults will result in substantial interpretive errors when applied to adolescents. Although development of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescent (MMPI-A) has substantially assisted in deriving interpretive comments of direct relevance to adolescents, using this specialized form of the MMPI does not substitute for an awareness of salient developmental issues.
Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to provide a brief overview of adolescent development and psychopathology, with particular attention focused on ways in which developmentally related issues may affect MMPI/MMPI-A interpretation practices.