Monday, March 07, 2011

Misuse and Abuse in Psychological Testing?

Drugs Are Not the Answer for ADHD
By Dr. Mercola
December 01 2007
Research has shown that treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term. After three years of treatment, drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta work no better than therapy.
Long-term use of the drugs can also stunt children‘s growth, and the benefits of the drugs have been exaggerated.
An influential 1999 study seemed to find that medication worked better than behavioral therapy for ADHD after one year of use. This finding caused a vast increase in prescriptions.
But now, after longer-term analysis, the report‘s co-author, Professor William Pelham of the University of Buffalo, has stated, "I think that we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study. We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That didn‘t happen to be the case. There‘s no indication that medication is better than nothing in the long run."
Pelham said that medication had "no beneficial effects" and that in fact, the drugs had a negative impact in terms of growth rate.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence in England is currently revising their treatment guidelines for ADHD to include strategies that will likely involve training for parents as well as "behavioral interventions".
"The important thing is that we have an approach which doesn‘t focus just on one type of treatment," Dr. Tim Kendall, chair for the working group, said.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
The number of children being harmed, perhaps for life, by unnecessary drugging is truly heartbreaking. Especially when there are so many simple, safe, and healthy options. Many are reluctant to adopt unproven alternatives, but the great news is that scientific proof supports these non-drug, non-invasive alternatives.
Even if Ritalin, the primary drug used for ADHD, were proven effective, would you really want to give your child a drug that is very similar to cocaine?
More Scientific Proof Food is the Answer – Not Drugs
For example, research by the University of Adelaide in Australia confirmed that fish oil improves the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without any of the side effects of drugs like Ritalin and Concerta -- and more effectively at that!
They gave 130 children, between the ages of 7 and 12 with ADHD, daily fish oil capsules. The children’s behavior improved dramatically within three months. They also found that:
After seven months, the children were not as restless and showed improvements at school
Improvements in concentration and attention improved by one-third
After 15 weeks, 30-40 percent of the children taking fish oil had improvements
After 30 weeks, 40-50 percent improved
Children taking placebo capsules were later switched to fish oil and subsequently also experienced improved behavior
Improvements were still being seen after the study ended, which suggests that fish oils may have long-term effects.
What’s the Real Price of ADHD Drugs?
ADHD drugs are known to carry serious side effects, including:
Permanent brain damage
Changes in personality, depression, and/or hallucinations
Cardio toxicity, and liver damage
Heart attack and stroke
Sudden death, and suicide
So, why – if these alternatives work – treat millions of children with drugs that are more powerful stimulants than cocaine?
Money! Huge Profits!
And, as you may already have noticed, more and more adults are now “diagnosed” with ADD/ADHD. And why not? As Matthew Emmens, chief executive of Shire Pharmaceuticals (a British manufacturer of Adderall) stated in a 2005 article, "The adult market is three times the size of the 1.14 billion-a-year children's market and is ripe and moving in the right direction." This should be a telling statement for anyone under the illusion that these drugs are created for the betterment of society.
But can it really be said that a community of drugged adolescents and adults is a good thing? Using brain imaging, scientists have found that, in pill form, Ritalin occupies more of the neural transporters responsible for the 'high' experienced by addicts than smoked or injected cocaine… We’re essentially creating a generation of legalized drug users.
Strattera, the only ADHD drug approved for use in adults, was found to cause serious liver damage. In 2005, Eli Lilly agreed to put a “black box” warning label on the drug, listing the following signs and symptoms that might indicate potential liver problems:
Pruritus (Itchy skin)
Dark urine
Upper right-sided abdominal tenderness
Unexplained "flu-like" symptoms
Does Anyone Know What Causes ADHD?
Most would answer no, we don’t. However, we do know the food choices of most children are beyond poor. How could you possibly expect a child to have normal behavior if he is fed refined grains, sugars, processed foods loaded with chemicals, and juices and sodas instead of pure water? Add to that 90 percent fewer vegetables than what is required for health, along with an overabundance of omega-6 fats and a virtual lack of omega-3 fats.
If you are a cook you will immediately recognize that this is a recipe for disaster. You simply cannot have a healthy functioning brain in a child that is not given the proper ingredients to develop optimal brain function.
This is not rocket science, folks. But it is easy to understand why there is so much confusion regarding this issue when the drug companies spend BILLIONS of dollars to confuse you with direct-to-consumer ads on TV, in addition to brainwashing physicians to stick to the belief system that drugs, not foods, are the answer for children with behavior problems.
Five Powerful Tools to Virtually Eliminate ADHD!
Eliminate most grains and sugars from your/your child’s diet
Replace soft drinks, fruit juices and pasteurized milk with clean water
Increase omega-3 fats by taking an effective form of omega-3 oil like krill oil or fish oil
Minimize your use of nearly all vegetable oils -- they are loaded with omega-6 fats, which distort the powerful omega-6:3 ratio
Avoid all processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
Additional helpful techniques:
Spend more time in nature
Sensory therapy and energy psychology tools, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique
A Guinea Pig Remembers
By Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
March 7, 2011
The book, Educating for the New World Order by Bev Eakman, describes the psychological testing which has been done on American public school students over the past quarter century, and I would like to recount my own experience as one of the early “guinea pigs.” In 1963, the Carnegie Corporation gave $75,000 toward the first year ($225,000 over 3 years) of the North Carolina Governor’s School, which I attended. It was the first of its kind in the country, where TIME (June 28, 1963) said “Four hundred of North Carolina’s most brilliant and creative high school students have been brought together for an intensive eight-week (summer) study program.”
On May 6, 1963, Prof. George Welsh of the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote to The Psychological Corporation of New York indicating that at the Governor’s School “we are planning to administer an extensive test battery including measures of aptitude, interest, and personality.” On May 10, Harold Seashore, director of the Corporation’s Test Division, replied to Prof. Welsh and indicated that if he used their test, “we would want a set of the cards filed with us, so that we can accumulate information on groups like this over the years.”
I have no way of knowing to what extent Prof. Welsh followed up on this, but it is interesting to note that The Psychological Corporation was founded in 1921 with Directors W.V. Bingham of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, J. McKeen Cattell as president of The Psychological Corporation, G. Stanley Hall of Clark University, Charles Judd of the University of Chicago, Lewis Terman of Stanford University, Edward Thorndike of Teachers College at Columbia University, James R. Angell as president of Yale University from 1921 to 1937, and others. Many of these Directors were the very psychologists who, along with John Dewey, gave us that disastrous “progressive” education that we have today. And in “The Psychological Corporation” (The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 1923), J. McKeen Cattell writes that “the Corporation is not so much concerned with arranging specific contracts for work by it or under its auspices, as in promoting the extension of applied psychology… To get the best kind of people and to put them in the situations in which they will behave in the way best for themselves and for others, is more fundamental than any other enterprize of society. It is necessary to organize means by which this work can be accomplished…. Psychology is concerned with the causes of conduct and its control.”
Though I do not know to what extent, if any, Prof. Welsh continued to communicate with The Psychological Corporation, I do know that he sent a memo to the Governor’s School administrative staff indicating “we can collect detailed information (about family and so on) later from those in whom we are seriously interested (in attending the school).” In a monograph published about the first 2 years of the school, there is a description of an objective “to attain increased self-realization for the individuals,” which uses words like those of Humanistic Psychology founder Abraham Maslow in his “hierarchy of needs.” The monograph also described that there would be studies of man’s beliefs and attitudes, the analysis of individual behavior (e.g., frustration, communality, conformity, philosophy, etc.), and an extensive battery of psychometric tests covering all the major areas of personality (e.g., value systems, emotional stability, etc.).
Terman’s Concept Mastery Test published by The Psychological Corporation was used (remember Lewis Terman was one of the original directors of The Psychological Corporation) as was the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values test emphasizing key values such as “harmony” and religious “unity.” Among 4 other tests administered was Gough’s Adjective Check List where students would indicate whether they would describe themselves as cooperative or cruel or honest or despondent, etc. We were also given the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (The MMPI, according to Prof. Welsh and E. Earl Baughman as co-authors of Personality: A Behavioral Science, had its original purpose in the late 1930s and early 1940s “to afford an objective assessment of some of the major personality characteristics related to psychiatric disability”) published by The Psychological Corporation. In this latter test, we were asked to respond “true” or “false” to 771 statements, among which were the following 10:
1) I believe in the worth of humanity, but not in God.
2) We cannot know for sure whether or not there is a God.
3) One of the most important things children should learn is when to disobey authorities.
4) The best philosophy is to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
5) In illegitimate pregnancies abortion is in many cases the most reasonable alternative.
6) Divorce is often justified.
7) The findings of science may some day show that many of our most cherished beliefs are wrong.
8) Most of our social problems could be solved if we could somehow get rid of the immoral, crooked, and feeble-minded people.
9) Organized religion, while sincere and constructive in its aims, is really an obstacle to human progress.
10) The only meaning to existence is the one which man gives himself.
There was another statement on this test, “Nowadays more and more people are prying into matters that should remain personal and private,” to which I might well have answered, “Yes, like those administering this test.”
Modeled after the North Carolina’s Governor’s School, the Arkansas Governor’s School was founded in
1979 and overseen by appointees of Bill Clinton. According to Peter LaBarbera in Human Events (September 12, 1992), the Arkansas Governor’s School has had the following activities: “A blatant anti-Christian diatribe from a radical feminist ‘witch’ who likens Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to necrophilia and sado-masochism; pro-homosexual readings, discussions, and films like ‘The Times of Harvey Milk’—a film lionizing homosexual San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk; a lecture from the attorney who defended ‘Jane Roe’ in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case concerning abortion (with no balancing speaker from the pro-life side); and a lesson in ‘animal liberation’ from a representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a rabid ‘animal right’s’ whose leader has compared chicken harvesting to the Holocaust.”
Mark Lowery, who formerly served as publicity director for the Arkansas Governor’s School, revealed that at the Governor’s School: “…They’re trying to mold students’ minds in this more liberal, humanistic thinking…. They’re trying to move ultimately into ‘political correctness.’… Parents need to know their children are being brainwashed…. I would call it indoctrination…. It’s something that’s well-orchestrated, well-organized, mind-bending and manipulative…. It tears down authority figures…. Renowned writer Ellen Gilchrist spoke to the students and was quoted as saying, ‘Students, do me a favor and totally ignore your parents.’… There’s collusion throughout all areas to try and help develop a belief that there are no absolutes…. It was an attack upon Christianity, but more so it was an attack upon conservative thought…. The students were told that they’re an elite who will not be understood by their parents, because the students have been treated to thought their parents can’t handle.” A parent of a student at the Governor’s School related that the children weren’t allowed to go home except on July 4 weekends, and were discouraged from having any contact (e.g., by telephone) with the outside world. The parent also explained how her child’s values were changed at the school, and her son committed suicide within a year.
Psychologically Healthy Workplaces
Natasha Scott, MSc & Sonya Stevens, MSc
APNS, CN Centre for Occupational Health & Safety, & Saint Mary's University
Is there such a thing as a “psychologically healthy workplace”?
You may be thinking, Yeah, right! Work is often associated with early mornings, deadlines, overtime, and STRESS…how can work actually have a positive impact on our health? Surprisingly, recent research suggests, it can! The American Psychological Association (APA) defines a psychologically healthy workplace (PHW) as a work environment that promotes employee health and well-being while at the same time boosting its business performance, so both the employees and the business are healthy. As can be seen in the diagram, healthy employees have a positive impact on organizational functioning, and organizational functioning has a positive impact on employees' health and well-being. The APA has come up with five components of Psychologically Healthy Workplace practices.
Components of PHW Definitions & Examples Practices
Employee Involvement
Encouraging and providing opportunities for employees to express opinions, provide feedback, and contribute to work decisions
Work-Family Balance
Adopting practices that enable employees to balance responsibilities associated with work, family, and life. Such programs include eldercare or childcare assistance and flexible work schedules
Employee Recognition
Rewarding employees for their contributions to the organization. Recognition can be formal (e.g., performance-based pay increases, employee awards and /or recognition ceremonies) or informal (e.g., feedback such as “ you did a great job”)
Employee Growth & Development
Providing training and development opportunities to employees to support professional development and career advancement. Example practices include in-house mentoring and coaching, training seminars and workshops, and tuition reimbursement for formal education programs
Employee Safety
Investing in the mental and physical health of employees. Common practices include extended health benefits, safety training, sick leave, healthy lifestyle programs (e.g., nutrition, stress management), and subsidizing health activities (e.g., gym memberships, sports fees)
Communication is integral to the success of all of these practices. In order for employees to take advantage of healthy workplace practices open and clear communication is needed.
Obviously, the organizational and societal context (i.e., industry, economy, resources) influences what can be done within each of these components. However, even small businesses with only a few employees and minimal resources can do things that make a difference. Healthy work practices can range from affordable and easily implemented (such as simply involving employees in decisions) to much larger and more complex practices (such as employee assistance programs).
Providing healthy work practices is something every organization can do, no matter their size and/or resources. As Dr. Kevin Kelloway, Director of the CN Centre for Occupational Health and Safety at Saint Mary's University, says “It doesn't cost anything to treat people with respect.”
Coping with Financial Despair
Debra and Bob have been married for 29 years. After years of careful investments, they were looking forward to a comfortable retirement. Bob, a teacher, could count on a regular pension. Debra ran a quilting business from home. Their daughters Laurie and JoAnn were still at university, while their oldest son Dean was working out west.
Then came the crash. Bob and Debra watched in horror as each day their stocks and investments dramatically decreased in worth.
“We should sell!” cried Debra. “No, the market will recover”, said Bob. As their savings dwindled, their despair increased, as did their fighting.
Bob took to spending long hours alone researching the market. Debra became increasingly anxious, and began to awake at night in a panic. Dinnertime became a routine of gloom, with each spouse speculating on what they must give up to get by in the future. They were in financial despair.
Many people are experiencing Debra and Bob's struggle. Although individuals vary in how invested they are in the market, all of us are affected by its recent setbacks. Psychologists have expertise in helping people cope with life's challenges: using a combination of strategies learned by psychologists, we can learn to weather this market storm.
Psychologists make the distinction between two types of coping. Instrumental coping refers to strategies for actively finding and implementing solutions to a stressful problem. Emotion-focused coping refers to strategies to manage the feelings that accompany a stressful problem. Most stressors in our lives require a combination of instrumental and emotion-focused coping. Moreover, these forms of coping tend to influence each other.
A good first instrumental coping strategy is talking about our financial situation. Couples facing reduced circumstances must negotiate their future options. Will we work longer or more? Will we decrease what we offer our children? Will we move? Active communication about our financial goals can help couples formulate the best actions to take.
For many of us, money has a deeper meaning. Our ideas about money are often rooted in the way we grew up. We witnessed our parents manage money, and were influenced by the cultural and community values that surrounded us. Sometimes, couples disagreements about money are linked to these differences. For example, Bob grew up with frugal farmers: his feelings of safety and approval are related to the amount of his savings. Debra's father was an unstable entrepreneur who alternately accumulated and squandered the family wealth. Debra views money as something fleeting which must be seized quickly to avoid deprivation. Bob's brooding and Debra's anxiety stem from their upbringings. Most couples can identify and resolve these differences on their own. If they cannot, a skilled psychologist can assist using couple's therapy.
Another sensible instrumental coping strategy is a consultation with a financial advisor. If a couple can agree on financial goals and values, working out options with a knowledgeable professional can help them make wise choices about their money.
Emotion-focused coping strategies include such methods as relaxation, exercise, and enjoyable pastimes. These methods are soothing, and increase overall quality of life. The old adage “count your blessings” is helpful to couples facing financial challenges. Seen in the context of one's health and relationships, financial problems can seem smaller. If despair over finances descends into a clinical depression (see the companion article on this topic), treatment by a psychologist may be required.
Debra and Bob went for couples counselling. Once they understood each other's unique perspectives on money, they settled on a new financial plan after they had gathered new facts from their financial advisor. For exercise and companionship, they took up walking together in the evenings. Although Debra and Bob did not solve the global financial crisis, they learned to get through it together.
• In North America, depression is the leading cause of disease burden, and the World Health Organization predicts that in the year 2030 it will be the second leading cause of disease burden worldwide after HIV.
• Approximately 5% of Canadian men and 10% of Canadian women experience symptoms of depression at some point in their life.
• While depression can be effectively treated in the community, many people delay seeking assistance due to stigma, lack of knowledge, or resources.
• Research from the American Journal of Cardiology indicates that individuals with depression and anxiety have a 50% increased risk for cardiovascular illness and death.
• Research from the University of Florida found that a perfectionistic personality characteristic with self-criticism is strongly associated with depression.
• Having one episode of major depression increases your risk of having another, but working with a psychologist can reduce the risk of future episodes or the intensity.
• The risk of major depression is increased with conditions such as Parkinson's disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and during the first year after childbirth. High levels of depression are also common enough those with economic difficulties.
It is common and even healthy to feel sad or blue at times, these feelings can be informative. Feeling down can tell us that we are bothered by something, stressed and need to slow down. Feeling depleted can indicate that particular issues burden us. These feelings can be a guide, telling us to take time and tend to our needs.
While many of these same feelings occur with clinical depression the difference is in the intensity and duration of these experiences. Sadness or a sense of loss tends to linger, isolation sets in and resilience seems to be lost. When clinically depressed individuals fall they tend to stay down. They are often critical and blame themselves for their feelings. They become easily overwhelmed, easily exhausted, experience hopelessness, and withdraw socially. Some may have thoughts of death or suicide.
The good news is that clinical depression is highly amenable to treatment when receiving competent care. When issues are not addressed and feeling s not expressed symptoms can worsen, creating an unnecessary burden on oneself, family, and friends. Left untreated , major depression can last six to 12 months with 40 percent of individuals still having symptoms sufficient to meet the diagnosis after one year.
There is no single cause of depression that has been identified . Most practicing clinicians understand the cause to be biopsychosocial in nature and approach treatment in this manner. Paying attention to your family history, body chemistry, personality characteristics, mental and emotional functioning, and social and environmental influences can help one discover the cause of their own personal struggle with depression. Any approach focusing only on one of these factors is likely too simplistic and therefore not beneficial as a treatment.
Many people who experience depression and seek help through their family physician will find that there are a variety of medications available. Medication for many is an appropriate route and helpful in many cases, and for others it's neither appropriate nor helpful.
Research indicates that a combination of psychological counselling and medication is typically the preferred choice for clinical depression. Counselling alone can be considered the second treatment of choice, especially in non-clinical cases, and medication alone the third choice. There is an abundance of studies indicating that psychological interventions are as, or more effective than medication for the treatment of depression. By conducting an assessment, a licensed psychologist can help to make recommendations for an effective treatment.
The psychological counselling process can help individuals improve overall mental and emotional well-being. Clients and therapists work together to locate personal issues and life stressors that contribute to depression, as well as identify thinking patterns, behaviours, and emotional awareness. Counselling helps one learn about his or her own personal experience with depression and the changes that can be made to help prevent future episodes.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or any psychological difficulties it is important to address your concerns and consult with a licensed psychologist.
PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING: Be Informed before Consenting!
Registered psychologists are delivering services in our schools, our courts, our communities and in organizations across Nova Scotia. The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) and the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP) have worked together over the years to ensure the public receives professional services from psychologists. The Nova Scotia Psychology Act provides guidelines for the ethical conduct of psychologists but does not regulate the delivery of psychological related services by non-psychologists.
An on-going area of concern by both APNS and NSBEP is the use of psychological tests by unregulated users. This may include assessments in school settings, assessments for custody access, and employment-related assessments. Individuals with various degrees and certificates -- not necessarily in psychology -- can be qualified by test manufacturers to purchase and use psychological tests. Individuals do not have to be registered psychologists to administer, score and interpret psychological tests and the Nova Scotia Psychology Act does not apply to these test users.
Registered psychologists who administer tests as part of their practice must follow very strict guidelines to protect the public from the misuse of psychological tests. This is especially important when tests results are used to help make important decisions concerning educational requirements, custody access decisions, type of therapy, or if an individual will receive a job offer or promotion.
Psychologists are obligated to ensure you fully understand the reasons you have been asked to take a test, what the test is designed to measure, the nature of the feedback you will receive, and how the test results might be used. Psychologists fully explain these issues to their clients and in doing so seek to obtain informed consent prior to administering any tests.
We would encourage the public to ask informed questions prior to taking any type of psychological test regardless of who asks you to take the test. If you or someone you know has been requested to take a psychological test - please consider asking the following questions prior to consenting to take the test.
Be fully informed before agreeing to take a psychological test!
Questions to ask when ... You are asked to take a test as part of a job application.
Organizations and recruitment companies use psychological tests to help them find the right person for the right job. When well developed tests are used in a professional manner it can result in a more productive and satisfied work force. Prior to giving your consent to have a test administered, you should ask the following questions about the process:
What kind of test do I have to take?
Tests can be used to measure specific knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAOs) that are related to the job. The test administrator should be able to tell you in general terms what type of test they want you to take.
How will the results be used?
Your test results should be combined with other information to make the final decision. The test results might carry a certain amount of weight in the selection process. Ask how the test information will be used to make a final decision.
Who gets to see my test results?
You have a right to privacy and the results should only be seen by those involved in the selection process. You should inquire as to who will see your results, whether or not they will become a part of your personnel file if hired, and what will happen to them if you are not hired.
Will I receive feedback on my test results?
You should be told in advance what type of feedback, if any you will be receiving about your performance on the test.
Who is responsible for the testing process?
Test publishers have guidelines in place concerning who can buy, administer and interpret tests. You should ask who this is in case you have concerns or other questions about the process.
Questions to ask when ... You are asked to go through a custody access assessment.
If divorcing parents can’t agree about their children’s living arrangements then a judge may order, or a lawyer suggest that the parents go through a custody access assessment. Custody access assessments are used to help the judge decide the best living arrangement (joint, shared, sole) and schedule for access (frequency, duration, etc.) for the child. If a judge orders the assessment then both parents must comply; so it is in the interests of both parents to come to agreement about custody and access issues before being court ordered to participate in a time-consuming, intrusive, and costly assessment. However, should parents find themselves involved in such an assessment; the following are important questions to ask:
What does informed consent mean?
The psychologist doing the assessment will tell you about, and provide in written form the limitations of confidentiality; in the case of a custody access assessment, the information gathered will be contained in the report generated from the assessment and become part of the court record.
What is the purpose of the custody and access assessment?
The purpose is to find what is in the interests for the child or children and how each parent can respond to those interests. In collecting information the psychologist will do an interview with each parent to gather a family history, etc, have each parent complete tests, and observe each parent, if possible, with the child or children. This information is then used by the psychologist to write a report that describes what the child or children need and how each parent’s abilities relate to those needs.
How will the Custody Access report be used?
The judge, lawyers, and parents will read the report which will then be used to resolve any disagreements between parents over the children’s living arrangements and access visits.
Who has access to the test data, file information, and report?
The test data and file information is kept by the assessing psychologist; the file and its contents are considered confidential but if ordered by the judge the psychologist must release the file and its contents. The report becomes part of the court record and anyone involved in the case then has access to the report.
Questions to ask when ... You are asked to give consent for your child to undergo a psychoeducational assessment.
School psychologists use psychological tests to investigate children’s learning strengths and weaknesses and to gain understanding of social and emotional functioning that might interfere with a child’s school progress. The tests are chosen to be appropriate for the child’s age, language abilities and problems. The psychologist responsible for choosing and administering tests in psychoeducational assessments will want you to understand the purpose of the test, the results that may be obtained from them, and how the results will be reported and recorded.
What is this test supposed to measure?
Each test chosen should measure specific skills, abilities or other attributes pertinent to the reason for assessment. The psychologist will be able to tell you what each test measures and why that information is important. Some tests compare your child to large samples of other children who have been given the same test. This comparison is intended to help you understand the extent to which your child has acquired or developed abilities compared to other children the same age.
How will the results be used?
Results of individual tests are combined with other information before an assessment is complete. The test results will be viewed in relationship to one another and in context of your child’s development. No single test result can answer all important questions about your child’s abilities. The psychologist will be able to tell you what kind of a decision can be based on the information from the assessment This is an important consideration in determining the appropriateness of the test results. Be sure you understand the information the psychologist gives you in respect to what each test measures, how well your child matches the group to which he/she will be compared and how the results will be in context to other important information.
Who sees the test results?
Test results are generally considered to be private information, only viewed by those involved with your child’s learning needs. The results of the test will be interpreted by the psychologist and explained to you. A written report of the results is generally provided for the school record with your written consent. The School Psychologist will be able to tell you who within the school board has access to the report and provide you with information about what steps are taken to obtain your consent when a request is made to release test information to others. Ask when you will be told of the results, who else will receive this information and how it will be kept confidential.
Who is responsible for the testing process?
Psychological tests should be selected and administered by psychologists. The use of these tests is regulated by Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, a set of guidelines developed by the American Psychological Association and endorsed by psychologists licensed by the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology. Interpretation of psychological tests requires specialised training. Psychologists will be pleased to tell you about their qualifications.
Questions to ask when ... You are considering psychotherapy.
Many people encounter circumstances in their lives that may be overwhelming. Taking the step of talking to someone who can help may be difficult. While friends and family can be willing to lend a hand, taking to someone who has the training and skills to help you solve the problem can be beneficial. Talking to a professional can also help to determine if there are any psychological problems, such as anxiety, that may also be adding to your distress.
Who should I see?
When you make the decision to talk to someone you should make sure that the person is a regulated professional. Many people are surprised to know that in Nova Scotia, as in other provinces, anyone can hold themselves out as a counsellor or psychotherapist. In Nova Scotia, the responsibility to regulate psychologists is given to the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP) by the provincial Government.
Many Nova Scotians also do not realize that the terms “psychologist” and “psychological” are restricted titles and can only be used by professionals who have met rigorous standards of training and who are able to provide a high standard of care. If you choose to see a psychologist for therapy you are assured that they have met the standards required by the law. Seeing an unregulated person gives you no assurance that this person has met the level of training needed to help people with serious and important problems. If you receive bad advice by an unqualified person, you have no way to remedy the situation.
Why choose a regulated professional?
Before you see a therapist, you should ask the person if a regulatory body recognized by the Nova Scotia Government regulates his or her practice. For example, all psychologists practising in Nova Scotia must be registered and in good standing with the NSBEP. A list of all registered psychologists is available online at Any person who calls themselves a psychologist in Nova Scotia without being registered is guilty of an offence. You should also be aware that many therapists belong to professional associations, but membership in such associations is voluntary and not the same as being registered. Remember, anyone can call himself or herself a “therapist”, “psychotherapist”, “life coach” or “counsellor”.
How do I find a psychologist?
You may locate a psychologist by talking to a friend who may have seen one, asking your family doctor for a referral, speaking with your employee assistance program, or consulting the Yellow pages. Psychologists are employed in hospitals, clinics, schools and in private practices throughout Nova Scotia. APNS also provides an online directory of psychologists at
Before choosing a psychologist be sure to ask questions about the type of problems they deal with, their experience, and fees. In most cases, fees for a private psychologist can be claimed through your private medical insurance. After you have determined the psychologist’s credentials and have started the therapy process, the best way to decide if the psychologist is right for you is based on your feelings. You should ask yourself is the psychologist kind, understanding and non-judgemental and do I feel my problem is being helped? If you don’t feel the “fit” is right, talk to the psychologist or consider referring yourself to another psychologist.
PSYCHOLOGY in the SCHOOLS: A Guide for Parents
Have you met with a psychologist in a school recently? If you are a school teacher, administrator or parent of a child receiving services you have probably attended an assessment feedback or program planning meeting with a psychologist during the school year.
While you may never meet the psychologist that serves your local school, for many children and families the school-based psychologist is the first and the only psychologist they will ever meet.
If you are the parent of a child waiting for an assessment, support, or intervention services, getting to meet the school's psychologist may be taking longer than you would like.
This article describes the role of psychologists in the schools and some of the opportunities for improving the access to psychological services in the Nova Scotia education system.
How Psychologists Fit in the School System
For the Nova Scotia Department of Education, psychologists in the schools are “professional support staff”. That means that psychologists employed by school boards generally serve multiple schools and travel circuits that may cover more than one county.
While travel may be reduced in urban areas, school populations tend to be larger and the psychologists may be assigned to seven or more schools.
There are approximately 82 psychologists employed across the regional school boards in Nova Scotia. That number is based in part on the Nova Scotia Department of Education's current “core professional service ratio” of 2,500 students to one psychologist.
The Minister's Review of Services for Students with Special Needs recommended a review of that ratio as recently as 2007. The Nova Scotia Department of Education is scheduled to release new guidelines for the delivery of psychological services in schools in the very near future.
A psychologists who works in the school system may have been employed in the educational system before they returned to university to become psychologists. Or she or he may have completed their graduate level training and gone directly to work in the schools.
Some may have been practicing psychologists who worked in health, mental health, or in private practice prior to being employed by the school system. Regardless of the route they followed, psychologists who work in schools have completed an accredited graduate program, applied for registration with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology, and completed or are completing the requirements to be registered with the Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology (NSBEP), as a Psychologist in Nova Scotia.
The way psychologists work can vary from school to school or board to board according to policies and practices adopted in each school and/or board.
The effect is that what psychologists do in a specific setting appears to be dependent upon what teachers, principals, and school board administrators think psychologists should do as well as how much independence the psychologist has over how she/he does her/his job.
In the public school system, psychologists and the services they deliver are more often managed and/or supervised by staff other than psychologists. (e.g., principals, resource teachers, guidance counselors, speech-language pathologists, etc.)
This can pose a number of problems for the practicing school psychologist, one of which is that there may be unnecessary limitations or a lack of knowledge about what they can or cannot do. Psychologists in the schools have a great deal to offer. According to the Canadian Psychological Association:
School psychologists provide a wide variety of both educational and mental health services to districts, school staff, students, and their families.
School psychologists:
• understand educational policies and issues because they work within the educational system
• understand the viewpoints of the many stakeholders in the educational system because their work requires their regular and direct contact with students, teachers, parents, and the community
• respond over long periods of time to students and situations that are chronic in nature (e.g. disruptive behaviour disorders, learning disabilities) and understand how these problems and situations affect and are affected by the classroom
• bring a scientific, research-based and objective approach to the analysis and assessment of students' learning, behavioural and emotional problems
• have the tools to systematically measure change in behaviour over time
• have the training to carry out psychological assessment of students' cognitive and learning styles for the purpose of educational planning
• have the training to recognize, diagnose, and intervene with various child and adolescent behaviour and learning disorders
• collaborate with students, families, teachers and other health care professionals in formulating appropriate recommendations, plans, and achievable goals for students
• support parents and teachers in the implementation of recommendations and plans
• maintain liaisons with other agencies in the community when appropriate to ensure comprehensive service delivery to students, parents, and the teachers with whom they collaborate
• develop, consult, and participate in programs designed to respond to crises and emergency situations in schools
• stay current with research related to psychology and education, and therefore offer psychological resource and expertise to the educational system in the development of educational policy and procedure as well as program evaluation
(Professional Practice Guidelines for School Psychologists in Canada, CPA)
What Does the Future Hold?
Historically, psychological services in school have been closely linked to the delivery of educational services for children with special needs.
Typically, schools expect psychologists to provide psycho-educational assessment services, often to the exclusion of other services they are both competent and prepared to deliver.
Currently, provincial educators are recognizing the need to integrate education and health care services for children and adolescents. A growing body of research documents the links between good mental health and the ability to learn.
There is substantial evidence to support focusing the delivery of psychological services in schools to more comprehensively meet the needs of Nova Scotia's children, youth, and families.
Canadian epidemiology research over the past two decades has consistently shown that approximately 18% to 20% of children will qualify for one or more psychiatric diagnoses during their time in school.
These diagnoses range from learning disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) to depression and conduct disorder. These are mental health issues with major impacts on a child's or adolescent's behaviour in school and serious impacts on learning.
At the same time, learning difficulties can affect a student's social, emotional, and behavioural adjustment, and impact negatively on the child's mental health.
Psychologists in schools are uniquely positioned to provide primary mental health care . Similar to a primary health care model, primary mental health care includes:
- prevention and treatment of common mental health issues
- basic emergency mental health services
- referrals to/coordination with other levels of care (such as hospital and community based mental health services)
- mental health promotion
- healthy child/adolescent development
- school based rehabilitation services
In a primary mental health care model, the school-based psychologist can provide direct provision of first-contact services and a coordination function to ensure continuity and ease of movement when longer term or specialized services are required.
“School psychologists are the most highly trained mental health experts in schools. In addition to knowledge about prevention, intervention, and evaluation for a number of childhood problems, school psychologists have unique expertise regarding issues of learning and schools. It is [school psychologists'] ethical responsibility to become involved in programs aimed at problems that are broader than assessing and diagnosing what is wrong with a child. As the most experienced school professionals in this area, school psychologists must become invested in addressing social and human ills … Although [school psychologists] will not ‘solve' these ills, [they] must have a role in ameliorating their impact on the lives of children.”
– Sheridan, S. and Gutkin, T. School Psychology Review, v29 n4 p485-502 (2000)
The school-based integrated service model is already exemplified in Nova Scotia by the growing number of Teen Health Centres housed in public schools.
Psychologists in the schools are well placed and well prepared to work collaboratively with health care professionals and a variety of community agencies in addition to the Teen Health Centres. Together, they can identify and support students with mental health needs, and develop prevention and early intervention programs.
However, a significant obstacle to developing and enhancing the collaborative integrated model is a matter of numbers. According to the Nova Scotia Department of Education, there are 138,661 students currently enrolled in Nova Scotia Schools. This means that the estimated 18% or about 24,959 students who will need psychological support and/or intervention will likely not be offered these services.
The lack of capacity to meet the psychological needs of children and adolescents in the schools is due in large part to the fact that the 82 psychologists employed by school boards across the province already have a wait list of students for psycho-educational assessment and there is rarely time available for other services.
The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) encourages the Nova Scotia Department of Education to explore and develop innovative, integrated school based service delivery models to promote mental health in the school age population, including but not limited to psycho-educational assessment. As the professional organization representing psychologists in Nova Scotia, APNS wishes to extend an offer of support and collaboration to this end.