Psychology 595B: Practicum in Assessment

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Psychology 595B: Practicum in Assessment
(Spring, 2018)

Time: Thursday, 2-5:50

Course Units: 4 Units

Place: Psychology Clinic 1030D
Instructor: April Thames, Ph.D.
Office: SGM 520
Electronic mail:
Office Hours: By appointment and Tuesdays from 12-1 pm
Required texts
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Graham, J.R. (2012). MMPI-2: Assessing personality and psychopathology (5th edition). New

York: Oxford University Press.
Shea, S.C. (2017). Psychiatric interviewing: The art of understanding (3rd edition). New York: Elsevier.
Note: Additional assigned primary readings can be found in the syllabus below.
Recommended Readings and Texts:
Lezak, M.D., Howieson, D.B., Bigler, E.D., Tranel, D. (2012). Neuropsychological Assessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Groth-Marnat, G. (2009). Handbook of Psychological Assessment (5th ed.) Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. An e-book version is available through the USC library.
Haynes, S.N., Smith, G.T., & Hunsley, J.D. (2011). Scientific foundations of clinical assessment. New York: Routledge.
Goldfinger, K. & Pomerantz, A.M. (2014). Psychological assessment and report writing (2nd ed). Sage Publications.

This course is graded on credit/no credit. Credit will be awarded for the successful completion of the following requirements:

  1. Formally present cases and case updates at each case conference according to guidelines in Appendix A.

  2. Complete two comprehensive neuropsychological/psychoeducational assessments with that include measures of personality assessment and corresponding reports.

  3. Completion of two brief homework assignments concerning MMPI-2 interpretation (toward the end of the course).

  4. Four (4) questions from the readings (with each question coming from a different reading) at the beginning of each class. I will then select a few of these questions to be discussed at the outset of the following class. These questions should address broad, conceptual issues raised by the readings. As noted above, grading will be based partly on the quality of these questions.

  5. Provide comments or questions for at least one of the cases presented in conference each week.

  6. Research and present up-to-date information on one RDOC category (see Appendix A)

  7. Research and present on one assessment-related topic (see Appendix A)

Course Content, Requirements, and Expectations:
This course is designed to continue graduate training in psychological assessment, case conceptualization, and diagnostic practices. The three principal goals of this course are to (1) permit you to become an educated and discerning consumer of the research and applied literatures bearing on psychological assessment (2) provide you with the fundamental knowledge necessary to administer and interpret commonly used personality measures (e.g., the MMPI-2, structured psychiatric interviews), (3) facilitate experiential learning through which you will acquire the ability to conduct empirically-informed assessments. In particular, you should emerge from this course with an enhanced understanding of both the appropriate uses and limitations of psychological measures, and well as with a heightened appreciation of your own fallibility and limitations as a clinical judge and assessor.
This class will be divided into two components. In the didactic component of the course we will focus primarily on theoretical and research issues in the assessment of personality and psychopathology, psychometrics, challenges in clinical judgment and prediction, and practical and methodological issues in the administration and interpretation of specific psychometric instruments (e.g., MMPI-2). The applied component of the course will focus primarily on the principles and practice of clinical assessment. Much of the course is dedicated to group supervision (case conference) of comprehensive psychological assessments, and further training in assessment report writing and feedback. Each class meeting will be divided into theoretical discussion of assessment and psychopathology, hands-on practice with assessment tools, and ongoing case presentation and discussion.
In addition to class supervision meetings, you will be meeting one-on-one with your case supervisor on a regular (typically weekly) basis for individual supervision. You should always discuss your case with your supervisor prior to presenting patient data in class. Your individual supervision is the primary source of case supervision and group supervision (case conference) should be considered secondary.

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