Does X suffer from depression? Might Y’s longstanding problems in social interactions be explained by an avoidant personality disorder or an autism spectrum disorder? Did Z benefit from therapy for social anxiety disorder?
These are some sample questions for psychodiagnostics in the context of mental health. In general, with psychodiagnostics we aim to describe and explain differences in behavior and to reach informed statements about a person’s functioning. In mental health care, the main goal of psychodiagnostics is to gain an understanding of a person’s concerns and behavior in order to make a diagnosis, to give treatment recommendations, and to evaluate treatment outcome.
The diagnostic process follows the empirical cycle. First, hypotheses about behavior, cognitive abilities, and emotional functioning are formulated. Next, these hypotheses are operationalized, and tested using a step-by-step diagnostic process. An insight into the scientific principles of testing is essential in order to select, administer and interpret tests adequately, and to combine all the gathered information in a transparant manner to come to a conclusion.
The course on psychodiagnostics mainly seeks to enhance this knowledge at the conceptual level. The emphasis during this block will be on insights and the practical application of psychometric concepts. For example, why is it important that a test is reliable, and how can I assess a test’s reliability? Important aspects of decision theory and ethics as applying to psychodiagnostics will also be covered. The practical side of conducting a psychological assessment will only be addressed in a limited sense. You will, however, carry out assignments yourself, in which a link will be made to the psychometric properties, scoring and interpretation of psychological tests.
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After following this module, students:
- Have gained insight into the importance of psychodiagnostics in clinical practice, primarily in mental health care;
- Have acquired knowledge about the diagnostic cycle and the psychometric principles of psychodiagnostics;
- Have practiced with administering, scoring and interpreting several psychological tests and questionnaires;
- Have learned about principles of decision theory as applying to psychodiagnostics;
- Have gained insight into the ethical and cultural aspects of psychodiagnostics;
- Have learned about the writing a psychological report on the complete diagnostic process.
The module Psychodiagnostics consists of plenary lectures about the diagnostic cycle, and about writing a psychodiagnostic report, and group meetings. During the group meetings, there will be hands-on practice with the evaluation of tests on their psychometric properties, and with the scoring and interpretation of the test performance.
Bijttebier, P., ter Laak, J., & Vertommen, H. (2019). The diagnostic process. In: Luteijn, F., & Barelds, D. (editors). Psychodiagnostics in healthcare. Boom uitgevers: Amsterdam. https://www.boomhogeronderwijs.nl/media/21/inkijkexemplaar_psychological_diagnostics_in_health_care.pdf