Practical: The Diagnostic Cycle
Full course description
A psychologist is often consulted in the context of diagnostics and selection, usually following a referral question raised by another professional or by another person (such as a parent or a partner). For example, consider a child aged 9 years, who experiences difficulties at school (in terms of e.g., learning or in a social context). Parents and the teachers at school are very concerned and want to know what is causing the child’s problems at school. Or think about a director of a medium sized company that has a vacancy for a manager and who asks a psychologist to find the most suitable candidate to fill this vacancy. During the practical, students are being offered a referral question - similar to the examples mentioned here – and they need to find an answer to this question while completing a so-called ‘diagnostic’ cycle (or process) (e.g., De Bruyn et al ., 2003) - an approach that psychologists frequently use to find answers to the above-mentioned referral questions. While completing this cycle, the psychologist will raise questions like: What is the exact referral question (e.g., what is causing the school difficulties in the 9 year-old child from the example above)? What are the hypotheses in this case (e.g., the child has a specific learning disability/ dyslexia, the child has attention problems that explain reading difficulties, or the child has depressive symptoms affecting school performance)? What test do I need to administer in order to test these hypotheses and when will I accept (or reject) my hypotheses? How do I interpret the data that I receive after completing the planned test administrations? What do I recommend based on this interpretation, or what is my conclusion? And, looking back, did I make the correct choices during this whole process? Finally, what ethical issues played a role in this case? During the practical, students will work together in small groups to resolve this so-called ‘puzzle’ and thereby to get answers to these, and related, questions. In addition, students will practice choosing, administrating, and interpreting various psychological tests. During the practical, the students get "hands on" experience in what steps one needs to take in order to "help" a person answering a referral question. They will also as a group, write a report on this process (including a reflection on it).
Students are able:
- to distinguish the steps of the diagnostic cycle;
- to identify ethical aspects in different steps of the diagnostic process;
- to choose, administer and interpret various psychological tests;
- to write a scientific report on the steps of the diagnostic cycle, and reflect on it.