When and how has testing been a benefit to you? Testing is something that we use every day at times without a second thought as to what we are doing. We are constantly considering and evaluating what will happen as a result of what we do. This is the very essence of testing; which is merely to measure something or someone’s ability (Drummond & Jones, 2010). I have on many instances used testing during my work, both in the military and in my current position as a residential counselor. I will attempt to be curt in my explanation of the instances where I used testing in my career. Without testing my career in the military would be non-existent.
The military uses a testing and evaluation system called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This testing device is designed to help place potential members into categories based on how well or how poorly they score in certain categories. I know realize just how wrong the ASVAB test can be as it only evaluates one aspect of the person, mental ability. This one dimensional thought process was an epic failure as it slotted me into a technical field when I have no true desire to do that. Without using a “multimodal approach” (Drummond & Jones, 2010) the system places people into positions that are not in their best interest.
Currently I use multiple methods when conducting my assessments to assist in monitoring and evaluating treatment plans of my clients. I am serving as a counselor for troubled youth and without knowing their background I can’t begin to help them move forward. I must both pay attention to the here and now, and be aware of what happened in their past. That is the importance of using all types of interviews; my goal is to help my client regain control of their lives and it begins with testing and assessment of their current state. As I continue to educate myself as to the importance of using reference materials a new world has opened up to me.
This new world has opened my eyes to the true nature of human development. What sources of information are most effective in beginning to address the needs of a client? Why? While all parts of the puzzle are important to understanding human behavior “the initial interview is considered the cornerstone of assessment pg. 21 (Drummond & Jones, 2010). For me to go against this statement would be unwise, especially as a person centered counselor. As such I believe knowing the client is critical to assisting in their journey back to wellness (Corey, 2013).
The use of all types of interviewing is needed to see the entire picture; unstructured, semi-structured as well as structured interviews. These all play a role in developing the initial picture you can paint of your client. The use of unstructured interviews allows the flexibility that is required to foster rapport and begin to develop the bond between counselor and client. The freedom of the counselor to ask what they want and the freedom the client to answer is second to none. The client can choose to expound or limit their answers to what they are comfortable with at the time.
The shortfall of this type of interview is the fact that every counselor asks different questions which can cause an issue when it comes to the validity and reliability of the information you as a counselor collect (Drummond & Jones, 2010). The use of semi-structured interviews allows for some flexibility from the counselor in the wording or sequence of questions. This allows the client the ability to gauge their comfort level and move forward on their terms. So both the counselor and the client have the ability to really get in depth on certain topics or skim the surface on others while still addressing the needs of the client.
Finally, the strict adherence policy of the structured interview; these standardized questionnaires are “often used in research settings pg. 21 (Drummond & Jones, 2010). Because of their rigid set-up these standardized instruments are available for counselors to use in order to gather empirical data. The advantages of such interviews are: gathering relevant information for each client, they require little training to administer, and this type of assessment can produce consistent results from client to client.
Using this type of interview in a clinical setting where I plan to work it is not conducive due to the time consuming nature of the interview. For me as a person centered counselor, I place a huge emphasis on developing rapport and the structured interview doesn’t allow rapport to develop. The questionnaire could be a point for the client to shut down before the process begins due to feeling like you are not listening to what they have to say.