Saturday, October 27, 2012

Update on My Experience at Walden University

After a recent conversation on a list serve for mental health counseling graduate students, and several comments and emails about my experiences at Walden University, I thought I would post an update to my original post about starting my graduate degree.

My experience is that that are several issues that seem to be inherent in the online educational environment that affect the overall experience of some online institutions, specifically Walden University. I agree that the future of education includes a strong online presence. However, just as brick and mortar establishments vary in their reputations as well as in their ability to deliver a high quality education, the same issue is present in online universities.

Perhaps the “for profit” institutions are lax in providing the best quality. Although I am not aware of any “real” evidence, I can speak from my own experience at Walden University where I am a graduate student in the mental health counseling program. One of the problems at Walden is that anyone can matriculate there. Again, in my personal experience, I see the value of this for individuals who cannot meet the expectations of other, more selective institutions, however, others, including myself, agree that this admittance policy tends to lower the quality of conversation in the classroom, as well as the overall expectations for the students.

I understand the implications of what I’m saying, and my intention is not to insult anyone. However, after a full year of classes, I am still engaging in classroom conversations in which some of my classmates remain ignorant on the basics of APA formatting, writing complete sentences (!?!), and engaging in critical and even somewhat original thought. There are students in my classes who have no business being in graduate school, and it is frightening to think some of these people may actually graduate with a degree in mental health counseling.  Although I am not happy with this, I have had to lower my expectations, at least in the classroom environment, I don’t necessarily believe my original expectations were extraordinary. This is not to say I have not met highly intelligent and articulate classmates along the way. I have. But the few exemplary students do not make up for the rest. 

Another issue in the online classroom, such as Walden’s, is that the discussions are not conducive to vital, or lively conversation. One discussion question rules the conversation each week, and for the most part, there is far too much redundancy in response, so, I read the same basic response from all 12-19 students in the class. It is far from stimulating. In addition, because there exists a requirement to the number of responses a student must make, it is often evident that some posts are written simply to fulfill an obligatory response.

Part-time instructors pose a problem as well. For example, in my current two classes, both instructors have full-time jobs. Judging from the cut and paste responses in the classroom and in the personal feedback I receive, I’m guessing that it may not be easy fitting in time for the online class. This is not to say that I believe all instructors in brick and mortar institutions are all highly dedicated, however, my experience regarding cut and paste instruction has been troubling, and even frustrating.  I often think the instructors at Walden are told to "dumb it down".  I cannot imagine professors in other universities accepting the quality of scholarship that I see at Walden. 

I don’t mean to be negative, however, I believe a graduate education is costly and prior to entering any program, every aspect of it should be scrutinized. I remain at Walden because there are no brick and mortar graduate programs that are CACREP-accredited in my state, and not one graduate program on the island on which I live. So, for this reason, I am pleased that institutions like Walden exist. My hope is that as the demand for online education increases, more universities will develop online programs and apply to them, the same expectations already established in their brick and mortar programs.

The bottom line in my recommendation is this...if you are intelligent, articulate, and believe you could obtain relatively good scores on the GRE, find a brick and mortar school to attend (or check out Wake Forest's new online program for mental health counseling).  If you intend on becoming licensed, make sure the program you choose is CACREP-accredited.  Don't settle for less than what you want, and finally, don't choose a graduate program whose bottom line is to admit as many students as possible simply to increase income.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Attachment Style

Attachment style is described as the way individuals manage emotional bonds with other people (Santrock, 2008). The initial process of bonding with parents or caregivers seems to have far-reaching implications for relational issues throughout life (Brandell, 2010; Fraley, 2010; Reyome, 2010; Riggs, 2010). This paper describes my personal attachment style, evaluates how genetic and environmental factors influenced its development, and how my attachment style affects my cognitive and social development.

Description of Personal Attachment Style

My personal attachment style as determined by the Adult Attachment Style Questionnaire (Fraley, n.d.) was secure, which seemed appropriate. Individuals with secure attachment styles are not typically concerned with rejection from a partner and they tend to be comfortable in emotionally close relationships (Rodriguez & Ritchie, 2009). Research has shown that when secure individuals face conflict, they are likely to problem solve using strategies such as compromising and encouraging mutual discussion and constructive communication (Carnelley, Pietromonaco, & Jaffe, 1994; Riggs, 2010). Additionally, secure individuals have a decreased potential for depressive symptoms and a far lower risk for psychological disorders throughout adulthood (Riggs, 2010). The questionnaire provided a realistic and accurate assessment of my natural tendencies in intimate and other relationships.

                                 Contributing Genetic and Environmental Factors
I was endowed with good genes - both of my parents were calm, warm, loving people who had above average intelligence and the ability to think in progressive and effective ways. They were socially aware and had many friends and colleagues who respected and loved them. I had a close to ideal family environment as a child: my parents were particularly responsive to my needs and my opinions were always respected and valued. I was not ridiculed, mistreated, or abused, although I was held to high standards and was encouraged to behave appropriately and thoughtfully and to express my feelings in creative, honest, and constructive ways.

Research indicates a correlation between early attachment development in childhood and the capacity to form close attachments in adulthood (Brandel, 2010; Reyome, 2010; Riggs, 2010). Sullivan's developmental model placed critical importance on interpersonal relationships and how children, and later adults, construct ways to maintain relationships within the family and with others (Brandell, 2010). Because people have intrinsic psychological needs, they create ways to fulfill them, and if the needs are not met by psychologically healthy interactions, less effective unhealthy means are implemented (Brandell, 2010; Rodriguez & Ritchie, 2009). My childhood environment was conducive to psychological health and provided the emotional building blocks for future positive relationships.

                                     Affect on Cognitive and Social Development
Research suggests that abuse during early childhood deeply affects an individual's future ability to bond with others, in effect, abuse influences social development (Reyome, 2010; Riggs, 2010). Furthermore, it may interfere with the individual's ability for emotional regulation, and may contribute to maladaptive emotional coping skills that may lead to psychological disorders (Riggs, 2010). Insecure individuals show a decreased ability for social information processing, such as careful listening (Riggs, 2010). Compounded with decreased emotional regulation, maladaptive coping skills, and a propensity to psychological disorders, maltreatment in childhood has a tremendous impact on social development and the ability to engage effectively in relationships in general (Brandell, 2010; Carnelley, Pietromonaco, & Jaffe, 1994; Riggs, 2010). In early childhood, children create norms and develop expectations according to the quality with which their needs are met, usually by the mother (Brandell, 2010). These norms and expectations are the templates by which individuals relate to others throughout their lives (Brandell, 2010; Reyome, 2010). When a mistreated individual consistently distorts self-perceptions and inaccurately interprets the behavior of others as threatening, they may engage in retaliatory behavior (Riggs, 2010).

As previously mentioned, I was raised in a warm, wholesome family environment in which personal expression was expected, valued, and appreciated. I grew up believing and experiencing that the most valuable relationships are the intimate ones I have with family and close friends. They are the safe harbors that naturally ameliorate the challenges of life. I developed highly positive expectations about intimacy, and my needs were mostly addressed. Because I learned that close relationships are safe, I perceive them accurately and as a non-threatening component of life. The pleasure I derive from close relationships has diffusely permeated my relationships in general, and I seek out and appreciate some level of intimacy in all of my relationships. Because I never developed abuse-related schemas in childhood, negative and threatening perceptions have never been activated in any of my relationships.


A growing amount of research links early childhood attachment and future relationship functioning (Carnelley, Pietromonaco, & Jaffe, 1994). The convergence of opinion is that attachment to the mother (or significant caregiver) has a tremendous influence on an individual's future ability to intimately relate to others (Brandell, 2010). In closing, I have even more respect for my parents and their parenting skills. I also take a little pride in my own efforts to offer to my own children, the same learning environment so they, too will have the capacity to engage in intimacy and bonding without fear or apprehension.


Brandell, J. R. (2010). Contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives on attachment. Psychoanalytic Social Work, 17, 132–157. doi: 10.1080/15228878.2010.512265

Carnelley, K., Pietromonaco, P., & Jaffe, K. (1994). Depression, working models of others, and relationship functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 127–140. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.66.1.127

Fraley, R. C. (n.d.). Attachment Style. Attachment Style. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from

Fraley, R. C. (2010). A brief overview of adult attachment theory and research. R. Chris Fraley/University of Illinois. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from

Reyome, N. D. (2010). The effect of childhood emotional maltreatment on the emerging attachment system and later intimate relationships. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19, 1–4.

Riggs, S. A. (2010). Childhood emotional abuse and the attachment system across the life cycle: What theory and research tell us. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19, 5– 51. doi: 10.1080/10926770903475968

Rodriguez, P. D., & Ritchie, K. (2009). Relationship between coping styles and adult attachment styles. Journal of the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences, 13, 131–141.
Santrock, J. W. (2008). A topical approach to life-span development (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Analyzing the Outcome Questionnaire - 45.2

The contemporary demands of managed care often require counselors to measure effectiveness and efficiency of their services (Lambert, Gregersen, & Burlingame, 2005). In a response to that quest, the authors of the Outcome Questionnaire 45.2 (OQ-45.2) designed this 45 item instrument as a baseline and ongoing screening tool to help psychological professionals determine and track treatment progress (Lambert, Gregersen, & Burlingame, 2005).

                              Evaluation of the Outcome Questionnaire-45.2
Evidence for Validity

Convergent validity was based on ten other instruments (including the Beck Depression Inventory) that measure the same or similar constructs (Hanson & Merker, 2005). The three subscale correlation coefficients were between .44 and .92, and for the total score were .54 to .88. However, deficient evidence of discriminant validity raises doubts about overall validity of the OQ-45.2 (Hanson & Merker, 2005). Correlations between scores of the OQ-45.2 and clinician-generated Global Assessment of Functioning and Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV Disorders formed a basis of comparison for concurrent validity (Hanson & Merker, 2005). The correlations were .78 and .87, respectively. Construct validity was measured with a test that determines sensitivity to change and differences between pretest and posttest scores were significant (Pfeiffer, 2005).


Reliability estimates were based on two samples. One was 157 undergraduate students comprised of 103 women and 54 men, 90% of whom were of European American background (Hanson & Merker, 2005). The second group consisted of 298 inpatient and outpatient clients from an employee assistance program, for which no additional gender, age, or ethnic information is provided (Hanson & Merker, 2005). Internal consistency estimates were between .70 and .93. Estimates of test-retest reliability were between .78 and .84 with three weeks between tests. In a different sample, with ten weeks between tests, stability coefficients were between .82 in pretest and .66 in posttest. The standard error of measurement was .93 (Pfeiffer, 2005).

Types of Scores Provided
The OQ-45.2 has 45 items that contribute to the total score and three subscales that measure three different areas of functioning in the client's life. The subscales include Symptom Distress (SD), Interpersonal Relations (IR), and Social Role (SR) (Pfeiffer, 2005). The total score is a comprehensive indication of mental health (Hanson & Merker, 2005). Twenty-five items are contained in the SD subscale, which measures subjective distress related to adjustment, mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and stress-related illnesses (Hanson & Merker, 2005). The IR subscale contains 11 items related to satisfaction versus difficulty with interpersonal relations (Hanson & Merker, 2005). The SR subscale contains 9 items that measure distress, dissatisfaction, and conflict related to family, employment, and social life roles (Pfeiffer, 2005). The OQ-45.2 provides a total score as well as the three separate subscale scores. Higher scores suggest dysfunction in one or more of the subscales (Pfeiffer, 2005).

Benefits and Limitations

           Benefits. The strengths of the OQ-45.2 include its brevity and easy administration, scoring, interpretation and versatility in practice and in research. It is cost effective and has intrinsic value in its ability to identify potential therapeutic failures (Hanson and Merker, 2005). Most of the items on the OQ-45.2 are highly sensitive to change; its cut scores are based on empirical evidence and it utilizes a Reliable Change Index that measures improvement, deterioration, and recovery. A final and significant benefit is the reliability and validity of its total score as an indication of mental health. (Hanson & Merker, 2005).

           Limitations. Similar to other questionnaires and self-reports, the OQ-45.2 is susceptible to faking. The lack of norming information contained in the manual is distressing, and without additional information concerning the genders, ages, races, and ethnicities of participants, it is impossible to know whether the normative samples are representative for the intended populations (Hanson & Merker, 2005). This instrument should be utilized cautiously with diverse populations (Gregersen, Nebeker, Seely, & Lambert, 2005).

                                                        Uses in Counseling
The OQ-45.2 was designed to measure the subjective experiences of clients to provide counselors with a more accurate perspective on clients' experiences, symptoms, and self-perceived ability to function (Hanson & Merker, 2005; Pfeiffer, 2005). As a baseline screening tool, this outcome assessment can provide comparisons between initial intake and future therapy sessions (Pfeiffer, 2005). Additionally, the OQ-45.2 can monitor client progress and provide definitive evidence of change as frequently as is appropriate (Pfeiffer, 2005). It can assist in case conceptualization and ongoing treatment decisions and recommendations (Hanson & Merker, 2005). As a key monitoring device for progress, the OQ-45.2 can identify clients who may be at impending risk for failure in treatment (Pfeiffer, 2005). The authors warn, however, this instrument is not designed for making psychiatric diagnoses (Pfeiffer, 2005).


Assessing outcomes in therapy has become a routine measure that helps increase the quality and effectiveness of treatment (Lambert, Gregersen, & Burlingame, 2005). Although it has limitations, this instrument is versatile and reasonably reliable and valid for use in the counseling profession.


Hanson, W. E., & Merker, B. M. (2005). Review of the OQ-45.2 (Outcome Questionnaire). In

R. A. Spies & B.S. Plake (Eds.), The sixteenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Pfeiffer, S. I. (2005). Review of the OQ-45.2 (Outcome Questionnaire). In R. A. Spies & B.S. Plake (Eds.), The sixteenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Gregersen, A. T., Nebeker, R. S., Seely, K. I., & Lambert, M. J. (2005). Social validation of the outcome questionnaire: An assessment of Asian and Pacific Islander college students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 33(4), 194-206.

Lambert, M. J., Gregersen, A. T., & Burlingame, G. M. (2004). The outcome questionnaire. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcome assessment (pp. 191-234). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Rating Scale of Communication in Cognitive Decline

The Rating Scale of Communication in Cognitive Decline (RSCCD) is designed to evaluate progressive dementia patients' communication skills. It assesses verbal and nonverbal skills in patients who have been diagnosed with dementia previously. Furthermore, it addresses communication ability as it pertains to ongoing patient management, especially by caregivers (Albanese, 1991). In essence, it assists caregivers in their ability to observe and determine the evolving needs of dementia patients (D'Costa, 1991). This rating scale categorizes individuals into 10 levels of communication ability. Additionally it suggests various ways of communicating at each level. The goal of the test is to remedy communication difficulties, which is one of the most common challenges when caregivers must contend with a family member's cognitive decline as a result of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

The general information included in the review is similar to to what is provided for various assessments in the MMY, and the language is similar as well. The rating scale test discusses the various forms, populations for whom the test was designed, administration time, prices, manual description, stated purpose, and scoring procedures. The review discusses reliability and validity as well. Regarding reliability data, the review for the rating scale test describes the norming sample as well as the methods by which reliability was determined.

Specific to assessing scales was the term outcome measurement, which is different than the assessment standards for other instruments that measure depression, suicidal intention, or other constructs. Scales are designed to gauge the severity of symptoms as a baseline and how the severity changes over time. In counseling, scales might be used to determine the overall effectiveness of the intervention. So, for example, an assessment scale may be used during the initial intake interview, and again after four or five sessions. This would give the counselor and the client a reasonable idea of the therapy's effectiveness (Lambert & Hawkins, 2004). Scales may also be used to measure pain or patient satisfaction.

The primary features of outcome measures may include "content, source, method of data collection, and the time orientation of each instrument (Lambert & Hawkins, 2004). Additionally, outcome measures are concerned with sensitivity to change. For example, when using a scale in counseling, it is important for the scale to indicate change as an effect of the treatment, not simply as a result of time. In determining sensitivity to change, a scale must be able to distinguish change accurately (Lambert & Hawkins, 2004). If an untreated patient responds similarly to a treated patient, then either the scale is not measuring change accurately, or the treatment is not working. The former would be an indication that the scale is an invalid measurement. Another important feature of outcome measurements is practicality (Lambert & Hawkins, 2004). For example, if a counselor uses a scale that must be sent away for the scoring process, it would be somewhat impractical because of the expense and the time factor and lack of immediacy in its practical use.

Specific to the rating scales is the description of the raters, which typically lists their experience and the number of years of experience. As a consequence of having raters as a part of determining reliability, the review discusses interrater reliability which describes how similar the raters rated the sample of patients. Observers, or raters, create a different aspect of reliability for scales. For example, central tendency errors and leniency and halo effects must be taken into account when using observers or raters to evaluate a patient or even when the client rates themselves (Whiston, 2009). The best case is to have both raters observe and rate the same client similarly. The closer their ratings, the higher the interrater reliability (D'Costa, 1991).

Construct validity is determined similar to assessments - that is, the scale is compared to tests, data that measures the same construct, literature on the subject, or research. Correlations are made between the responses to the scale in question and the alternative data. In this way, validity is established. For example, this rating scale was validated by comparisons to the Mini-Mental State Examination (D'Costa, 1991).

Generalizability is similar to evaluating other types of assessments. Although not mentioned in either of the reviews for the RSCCD, any scale needs to be normed in various populations to discern its reliability and validity in those populations. Coefficients are used to describe consistency, and methods such as test-retest can be used to establish reliability. Different from other assessments, reliability is often established by interrater reliability coefficients. Standard errors of measurement are not reported for the RSCCD, although they were mentioned in the reviews of other scales (Miller, 1991).

Rating scales, such as the RSCCD, can be incorporated into the standard intake assessment, whether it is by completing a form, or embedded within the interview itself. Either way, Whiston (2009) noted the importance of such evaluations in counseling because of clinician bias. Utilizing assessments and their valuable yield in counseling provides quality information to guide treatment design and ongoing therapeutic decisions (Whiston, 2009). Rating scales help the client or an observer rate symptoms, and over time, progress. In counseling, using outcome measurements frequently during the therapeutic process can be helpful, especially in determining the change that is normal early in therapy (Lambert & Hawkins, 2004). In effect, rating scales help counselors in treatment planning, gauging ongoing results, and realizing the need for alternative interventions (Lamber & Hawkins, 2004). Outcomes assessments increase the quality of care counselors bring to the therapeutic relationship and the intervention (Sederer, Dickey, & Eisen, 1997).

Albanese, M. (1991). Review of the Rating Scale of Communication in Cognitive Decline. In B.S. Plake, J.C. Impara, & R.A. Spies (Eds.), The twelfth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

D'Costa, A. (1991). Review of the Rating Scale of Communication in Cognitive Decline. In B.S. Plake, J.C. Impara, & R.A. Spies (Eds.), The twelfth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Lambert, M. J., & Hawkins, E. J. (2004). Measuring Outcome in Professional Practice: Considerations in Selecting and Using Brief Outcome Instruments. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35(5), 492-499. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.35.5.492

Miller, R. J. (1991). Review of the ADD-H: Comprehensive Teacher's Rating Scale, Second Edition. In B.S. Plake, J.C. Impara, & R.A. Spies (Eds.), The twelfth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Sederer, L. I., Dickey, B., & Eisen, S. V. (1997). Assessing outcomes in clinical practice. Psychiatric Quarterly, 68(4), 311-325.

Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Competence

                     Defining Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Competence

In theory, emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability for an individual to use certain aspects of cognitive thought processes, specifically pertaining to interpersonal and intrapersonal relations, " toward successful environmental adaptation" (Seal & Andrews-Brown, 2010, p. 145). It is the interplay of emotion and intelligence (Seal & Andrews-Brown, 2010). Emotional competence (EC) is the ability to correctly recognize, effectively utilize, and appropriately manage (express) emotions (Santrock, 2008). Furthermore, it is being aware of and managing oneself emotionally, being socially aware, and having the ability to implement social skills effectively (Seal & Andrews-Brown, 2010).

                                              Contrast and Comparison
Whereas EI is one aspect of cognitive ability, EC is the level of proficiency of one aspect of EI. (Seal & Andrews-Brown, 2010). EI envelopes a wider range of cognitive abilities, whereas EC speaks to the degree of self-regulation and awareness. EC is the deeper subset of EI. EI is the underlying foundation for EC, and EC is an expression of EI. EI emphasizes controlling one's emotions whereas EC is the ability to express emotions appropriately and effectively.


One common component of the two is self-awareness. As a component of EI, self-awareness develops along with other cognitive abilities (intrinsic as well as inspired by the quality of the community with which the individual socializes). EI is affected by development in that as the individual develops more accurate and a wider range of abilities, the level of emotional intelligence and self-awareness grows. Self-awareness in EC is affected by development as well - as individuals develop and their EI evolves, they also have a greater potential capacity to evaluate personal patterns of EI and, become more self-aware, and take the opportunity to discover how to manage emotions in a way that maximizes contextual circumstances.

As Piaget might theorize, throughout development the individual passes through stages in which he or she becomes more adept at certain cognitive skills (Santrock, 2008). As the cognitive skills increase, so does the individual's EI as well as the capacity to learn to manage various aspects of EI, in this case, the competence of managing emotions as they relate to self-awareness.

For example, Piaget would say that two-year-olds are mostly aware of themselves as the center of the universe, and for the most part, they have not learned to manage emotions when socializing. They are difficult to reason with and may throw a temper tantrum to obtain what they want. Alternatively, nine-year-olds are far more capable of reasoning and have become aware of others in the world. Their EI has developed and they realize they are not the center of the universe. Simultaneously, they have a greater capacity to learn to master their emotions within the context of their level of intelligence (Santrock, 2008). They have a greater ability to understand themselves, their patterns of behavior, and their ability to reason with themselves. Biological and psychological growth along with social experience develops self-awareness of EI as well as the potential to develop awareness of the self in EC. Developing EI is an active process that transpires through experience, observation, the context, and trial and error (Larsen & Brown, 2007).

                                 Cultural Component of Emotional Competence
I found Hayashi, Karasawa, & Tobin, (2009) interesting for several reasons: one was that the Japanese preschool pedagogy seemed to promote collectivism, which would be a natural enculturation process at the preschool level for a collectivist culture like Japan's. In comparison, such a pedagogy would be taught differently in the U.S. Because we have traditionally placed value on the individualist expression of emotions and ideas, perhaps training for EC would take precedence over teaching EI. As an example, instead of talking about the loneliness of poor Mr. Carrot in the Japanese classroom, perhaps the teacher in an American classroom would suggest Mr. Carrot get his act together and do something about it - basically take charge of his emotions and behave more appropriately for a grown carrot.

Second, in Japan, a country that is half the size of the U.S. but with twice its suicide rate, perhaps it is more salient than is immediately evident, to teach the ability to identify and appropriately manage emotions. In any culture, first the family, and then school and peer relationships work together with intrinsic capacities to help children learn EI and the personal management of emotions (EC) (Hayashi, Karasawa, & Tobin (2009).

                                   Biological Basis of Emotional Competence
In the discussion of EI and EC, it seems important to consider the biological basis for emotion, in general. The learned ability to become emotionally competent depends, at least in part, on the functionality of brain structures, including the prefrontal cortex as well as the amygdala and hippocampus (Davidson, 2003). Contrary to William James' theory of emotion, neuroscience has shown that emotion does, in fact, have dedicated brain centers (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). So, although EC is considered learned behavior, it depends on the individual's ability to change and grow as well as the capacity of individual brain structures. EI may play a significant role in social adaptation (Brackett, Rivers, Shiffman, Lerner, & Salovey, 2006), and if that is the case, biology, specifically the adequacy of functioning of brain structures, plays an equally crucial role.

Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., Shiffman, S. Lerner, N. & Salovey, P. (2006). Relating emotional abilities and social functioning: A comparison of self-report and performance measures of emotional intelligence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 780–795. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.780

Davidson, R. J., Jackson, D. C., & Kalin, N. H. (2000). Emotion, plasticity, context, and regulation: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Psychological Bulletin, 126(6), 890-909. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.126.6.890

Davidson, R. J. (2003). Affective neuroscience and psychophysiology: Toward a synthesis. Psychophysiology, 40(5), 655-665. doi: 10.1111/1469-8986.00067

Hayashi, A., Karasawa, M., & Tobin, J. (2009). The Japanese preschool’s pedagogy of feeling: Cultural strategies for supporting young children’s emotional development. Ethos, 37(1), 32–49.

Larsen, R. W., & Brown, J. R. (2007). Emotional development in adolescence: What can be learned from a high school theater program? Child Development, 78(4), 1083–1099. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2009.01030.x.

Seal, C. R., & Andrews-Brown, A. (2010). An integrative model of emotional intelligence: Emotional ability as a moderator of the mediated relationship of emotional quotient and emotional competence. Organization Management Journal, 7, 143–152. doi: 10.1057/omj.2010.22

Practical Evaluation

Choosing an appropriate assessment that considers the unique context of the child, adolescent, or adult can be a daunting task for counselors (Cicchetti, 1994). In addition to establishing an assessment's reliability and validity, determining the extent of qualifications necessary for its administration and scoring are equally important. Understanding how to score and obtain accurate results from an assessment is crucial to making inferences that will accurately guide case conceptualization and the overall intervention design. Herein is an evaluation of the Beck Depression Inventory FastScreen for Medical Patients (BDI-FastScreen) that demonstrates its usability as a quick and easy assessment designed to screen medical and substance abuse patients for depression. The evaluation includes the qualifications for its use, its general administration, and scoring procedures.

                                                 Qualification of Examiners
The BDI-FastScreen for Medical Patients (BDI-FastScreen) is a cost-effective, focused evaluation tool that can be self-administered in 5 minutes and easily scored (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The BDI-FastScreen is listed for purchase in the United States with a B Qualification level, which means the purchaser must be a member of a professional organization that promotes or requires appropriate assessment training and qualification (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012). If the purchaser does not retain such a membership, he or she must have a master's degree in a field related to the intended use of the instrument (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012). This may include a master's degree in psychology, education, social work, or other related field. There are no licensing requirements or special training specific to the BDI-FastScreen, and although qualification for purchase exists, the scoring can be done by office staff (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012).

As the vendor of the BDI-FastScreen, Pearson Education, Inc. (2012) expressed its commitment to maintaining standards in testing according to the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education . To facilitate the ethical and appropriate use of assessments, purchasers must use an established qualification system that requires the purchaser to register and submit to a verification of qualifications. The purchaser must comply with the registration process by completing a user acceptance form that requests basic demographic information as well as the primary work setting, professional degrees obtained, training or coursework completed in assessments, licenses or certifications received, and active organization memberships (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012).

                                                          Scoring Provisions

General Administration
The answer sheet is a one page form whereon the examinee's name, age, gender, marital status, occupation, and level of education is documented. The BDI-FastScreen has seven items listed in two columns (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). It can be easily attached to a clipboard along with other intake forms, if the clinician deems appropriate. Furthermore, the assessment can be read to clients who cannot read English (Whiston & Eder, 2003). The answer sheet contains a warning about the black and green ink colors on the form to prevent photocopying, which is an infringement of copyright laws.

Scoring Procedures

The manual is easy to understand although may pose some difficulty for untrained examiners (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). Examiners should be particularly attentive to non-zero responses to the items regarding pessimism and suicidal thoughts (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). The manual clearly explains how to add the scores from the 7 test items to find the total score (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The symptoms measured include: sadness, pessimism, past failure, loss of pleasure, self-dislike, self-criticalness and suicidal thoughts (Strauss, Spreen, & Sherman, 2006). Each question is marked 0 through 3 using a Likert-type scale. The highest possible score is 21 if the client responded with a 3 to all of the items, and the lowest possible score is zero if the client answered each question with a 0 (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The manual provides guidance on total test scores as follows: 0-3 is minimal; 4-8 is mild; 9-12 is moderate, and 13-21 is severe depression (Whiston & Eder, 2003). Some research indicates that when utilizing this assessment for individuals of diverse populations, there may be alternative cut scores and the counselor may want to check for appropriateness with these populations (Strauss, Spreen, & Sherman, 2006).


The BDI-FastScreen is an easy-to-use pencil and paper instrument for screening depression in medical and substance abuse patients (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). Counselors will appreciate the limited requirements for its use, its design simplicity and easy scoring, and the interpretive guidance from the straightforward manual.


Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.

Cicchetti, D. V. (1994). Guidelines, criteria, and rules of thumb for evaluating normed and standardized assessment instruments in psychology. Psychological Assessment, 6(4), 284-290. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.6.4.284

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