Psychologists: ‘Misleading’ to say Sereno failed psych evaluation

Rappler.com
Psychologists: ‘Misleading’ to say Sereno failed psych evaluation
The Psychological Association of the Philippines seeks to 'clarify the function of psychological assessments and the diagnosis of psychological conditions'

MANILA, Philippines – The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) on Friday, March 2, said it was “misleading” to say that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had failed a psychological evaluation.

This was among the points that the PAP raised in its official statement on the “ethical and valid use of psychological assessments,” which it issued in light of the recent hearings at the House justice committee on the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

What PAP’s statement says: One of the points raised by the group is that statements saying Sereno “failed” the psychological evaluation “are misleading, as no one ‘passes’ or ‘fails’ a psychological assessment.”

“Instead, a psychologist recommends a person to a position after the assessment indicates that he/she possesses the characteristics that fit the demands of the given position,” PAP noted.

The group also clarified that:

  1. The purpose of psychological assessment is to help understand a person’s functioning in various aspects of life for informed decision-making or for treatment planning.

    PAP said that while psychological tests are developed and applied through scientific methods, “they are not perfectly accurate” and that “actual behaviors and performance are more valid than what psychological assessments may predict.”

  2. A psychological assessment is often conducted for a specific purpose, and should only be used for that purpose.

    In Sereno’s case, PAP said using a psychological assessment conducted in 2012 for the House hearings “is a misuse of those results.”

  3. Good practices in psychological assessments entail the application of a combination of methods, such as interview, observation, standardized norm-referenced tests, and relevant informal tools.

    According to PAP, using only one or two of the said methods “is inadequate.”

    “If a psychologist bases his or her assessment on only one of these methods, or from secondhand reports, then conclusions about ‘mental disturbance’ based on alleged symptoms that indicate such a condition are misleading, if not inaccurate,” the group added.

The PAP maintained that in issuing the statement, they are neither supporting nor opposing any position regarding the issues involving Sereno. Instead, they only seek to “clarify the function of psychological assessments and the diagnosis of psychological conditions.”

The context: On Tuesday, February 27, clinical psychologist Geraldine Tria stated categorically before House lawmakers that she would not have recommended Sereno for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court “based on the findings” and her assessment of Sereno’s personality.

Tria based her evaluation and conclusion on 2012 and 2014 Manila Times articles, as well as the House deliberations, and had never interviewed or even interacted with Sereno.

Why it matters: The PAP said in its statement that its members “reject recent narratives that directly or indirectly use psychological assessments to stigmatize those with mental or psychological conditions.”

“We condemn the unethical practice of using confidential psychological information for purposes of discrediting or damaging a person’s character. Even if psychological test results become public documents, this does not grant permission for anybody to use it for any purpose other than its original intent,” the group added.

For a full discussion on the issue, read Rappler’s in-depth report on the use of Sereno’s psychological report during the House impeachment hearings. – Rappler.com

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