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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Personality assessment can be a holy grail of information if approached methodically and scientifically, but often this is neglected or incomplete. This book explores the entire process of personality assessment in this updated third edition.
Purpose: This book is intended to present a scientifically based, comprehensive approach to personality assessment. Its unique aspect is the shift in focus to the process of assessment rather than strictly interpretation of test scores.
Audience: The editors indicate that the book is intended for everyone from students to seasoned clinicians in psychology. It is written at an accessible level with some advanced concepts. The editors and contributing authors are well known for their scholarly activity in the field and their previous publication of similar books.
Features: As one might expect, an introduction to personality assessment begins the book, but this is a truly unique introduction that clearly defines personality upfront and discusses key issues related to social constructs of personality, social influences on diagnostic understanding, and the contributions of certain systems or networks in the greater context of personality constructs. This is followed by a chapter on referral contexts and test selection, which is certainly a relevant topic, but the chapter leaves something to be desired. It seems to stray from personality assessment into cognitive assessment, which is of dubious value in this book, and then does so in an incomplete way. A chapter on the InnerLife and STS (systematic treatment selection) approach states that it is beyond the scope of the chapter to provide detailed information about the approach, but it leaves readers wondering if not here, then where? The case examples illustrate the point of STS, so having all the details regarding the approach before the case presentation would be more helpful. Subsequent chapters continue to have moments that stray from the book's topic, such as a discussion of mailing maps, directions, fee structure, and consent form to the patient ahead of time. In this sense, the book is also too basic for seasoned clinicians. The MMPI-2 chapter is, unfortunately, subpar and too brief to be of any real use and thus not worth including. The MCMI chapter is better suited to the book, given its brief introduction of psychometrics and scales, followed by an integrative discussion of the dimensions of personality traits for the purposes of treatment planning, a key concept in this book. The chapter on integrating assessment findings is a worthy inclusion, but falls short in the sense of bringing up problems or challenges, but never concretely resolving them. Even if the answer is not black or white, providing alternatives or suggestions based on the literature would be helpful. As a final thought, the issue of clinical versus actuarial judgment never comes up in this book as a focus of discussion or a review of the literature, which is quite unsatisfactory given how naive many providers are about these issues that can have a major impact on assessment decision-making. The references are current to the last decade, but it is difficult to find many in the last 3-4 years, which is unexpected in an updated edition.
Assessment: This book takes a positive step towards instructing clinicians in advanced personality assessment, but falls short in a number of areas that temper my enthusiasm for it. It must have some popularity to warrant a third edition, but this is likely limited to its use as a graduate instruction tool. There are some notable changes, such as the addition of the PAI and MMPI-2-RF, but the quality of these sections does not make it worth updating, especially since this is not an interpretive guide for measures.