Sunday, November 18, 2012

Assessing Special Populations

For this discussion, I have chosen the section on test selection from the Responsibilities of Users of Standardized Tests (RUST) (Association for Assessment in Counseling (AAC), 2003) as it applies to the special population of Filipino clients. Some research claims that Filipino Americans demonstrate a specific, culture-related mentality that may not be accurately identified when measuring some of the more common constructs in assessments (David, 2010). For example, the measurement of depression in Filipino populations may not be measured accurately by the Beck Depression Inventory-II because this instrument does not measure or account for the psychological consequence of oppression among this population.

The RUST (AAC, 2003) advised counselors, when choosing an instrument, to understand the specific use and purpose of the instrument, that it is reasonable and appropriate for the individual's unique cultural context. The purpose for its use must be clear, and it must not be used without that specific purpose in mind (AAC, 2003). Additionally, counselors must consider whether the norming and standardization process of a specific instrument is applicable for the client (AAC, 2003). If I sought to evaluate a Filipino client for depression, I may first utilize the Colonial Mentality Implicit Association Test, to determine foundational perspectives and attitudes that I can use to make an appropriate interpretation of the results of a depression inventory such as Beck's-II (David, 2010).

In another example using the Filipino population, Del Prado and Church (2010) found that enculturation has a tremendous influence on how members of the Filipino population approach counseling and resolve issues. Choosing the long form of the Enculturation Scale for Filipino populations may provide the counselor with important information about counseling variables that may present issues in counseling (Del Prado & Church, 2010). Utilizing this specific instrument will be far more informative than an assessment typically used or normed on a different population (AAC, 2003; Whiston, 2009).

In administering any test with this population, I would be sure to understand, from the client's perspective, how simply taking the test may affect the client (AAC, 2003). For example, if the client believed that only crazy people were given similar assessments prior to committing them to a treatment facility, the client's undue strain and anxiety from being assessed may skew the results, not to mention the potential psychological harm the client may suffer. If the assessment process is amenable to the client, it is equally important to consider the client's unique context when interpreting the results of the assessment (AAC, 2003). For example, understanding how the client's fundamental beliefs, worldviews, and general life experiences (such as oppression) will have implications for test results (AAC, 2003; David, 2010). It is important to modify interpretations as appropriate and fair for clients, to protect them from invalid evaluation and the potential harm that may originate from biased or improperly normed information (AAC, 2003).

Perhaps the most poignant direction for this discussion comes from Whiston's (2009) assertion that as counselors, we must refrain from explaining an individual's assessment results as a sole product of his or her race, and become aware of, and utilize more realistic and appropriate explanations for differences in individual assessment results. The psychological consequences of oppression and other influences must be considered in the evaluation of any individual. This is an especially pertinent consideration when assessing an individual from a diverse population (AAC, 2003; Alvarez & Juang, 2010; David, 2010).


Alvarez, A. N., & Juang, L. P. (2010). Filipino Americans and racism: A multiple mediation model of coping. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(2), 167-178. doi: 10.1037/a0019091

Association for Assessment in Counseling. (AAC) (2003). Responsibilities of users of standardized tests (3rd ed.). Retrieved from

David, E. R. (2010). Testing the validity of the colonial mentality implicit association test and the interactive effects of covert and overt colonial mentality on Filipino American mental health. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 1(1), 31-45. doi: 10.1037/a0018820

Del Prado, A. M., & Church, A. T. (2010). Development and validation of the Enculturation Scale for Filipino Americans. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(4), 469-483. doi: 10.1037/a0020940

Whiston, S. C. (2009). Principles and applications of assessment in counseling (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning

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