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Lecture 3

PSYCH317 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Clinical Formulation, Nomothetic, Psychological Testing

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Elizabeth Nilsen

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January 12th 2016: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment
Idiographic case formulation involves a detailed understanding of the child and family as
a unique entity, whereas nomothetic case formulation emphasized more general
inferences that apply to broad groups of individuals.
The main purpose of assessment is creating some type of description and diagnosis. A
prognosis involves generating predictions regarding future behaviour under specified
condition, whereas treatment planning involves making use of assessment information to
generate a treatment plan and evaluating its effectiveness.
Principles of psychological assessment include…
1. Art rests of science
2. Assessment is a snapshot, not a film
3. The appropriate assessment is tailored to the needs of the client, the referral
source or both
4. The psychologist should be responsible to the client, not the computer
5. Information is power
6. Assessment goes beyond description and into interpretation
7. The psychologist, without apology is projected into the report
8. The accumulation of data is not an assessment, the integration and interpretation
Clinical Interviews are the most universally used assessment procedure. They all differ
in structure.
Potential interview biases include the halo effect, the confirmatory bias, and the focus on
explanations of behaviour that emphasize traits rather than situational determinants.
Behavioural assessment has an emphasis on observing the child’s behaviour directly.
We look at antecedents, the behaviour resulting and the consequences.
Checklists and rating scales are very useful because they have a very wide normative
group. They often allow for a child's behaviour to be compared to a normative sample
and are usually economical to administer and score. Problems with rating scales include
a lack of agreement, validity depending on informant credibility, little comparison in
informants and difficult questions about internal states.
Interindividual comparison is looking across different contexts and intraindividual is
looking at differences between children.
Psychological testing is not assessment. The purpose depends on the referral question
and it consists of standardized conditions that are consistent across each administration.
Intelligence and educational testing is a central component in clinical assessments for a
wide range of childhood disorders.
Indexes of the WISC-IV
Verbal Comprehension (VCI)
Perceptual Reasoning (PRI)
Working Memory (WM)
find more resources at
find more resources at
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