Brent George

Psychometrist: Independent Practice

Registered Counsellor: Independent Practice

Nat Dip: Datametrics (UNISA), BSc (UNISA); Hons BSc (UNISA), Nat Dip: HR Management (UNISA)

A commonly asked question is “where can I get psychometric tests for my clients and how do I use them?”

To answer this question we need to start at the beginning. Form 94 is a very misunderstood and indeed under-utilised document. Part of the problem is that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has given it a wrong name as 95% of the information contained therein is relevant to all categories registered under the HPCSA’s Board of Psychology. The form is entitled: “Training and examination guidelines for Psychometrics”. Form 208, p.1 states: “The use of a psychometric measuring device, test, questionnaire, technique or instrument that assesses intellectual or cognitive ability or functioning, aptitude, interest, personality make-up or personality functioning, is constituted as being a psychological act.” Form 208, page 5 point D indicates that, “only persons registered with the Professional Board of Psychology under the auspices of the HPCSA may administer, score, interpret and give feedback on psychological tests. However, interpretation and feedback are limited to registered psychologists, and psychometrics registered in the category of Independent/Private practice”.

The following steps are recommended to follow in the test selection and use process.

Step 1: Prior to a Registered Counsellor even considering using psychometric tests, they have to have proven competence in the following areas:

  • Have adequate knowledge and understanding of psychometrics, testing and assessment, which informs and underpins the process of testing,
  • Knowledge of how to use tests in a professional and ethical manner by following good testing practices, and
  • Have appropriate contextual knowledge and skills.

Step 2: Only Registered Counsellors who have obtained the basic principles behind psychometric testing should they proceed to the next step. This step requires identifying:

  • The purpose of the testing,
  • The construct/s they wish to measure,
  • How the results of the psychometric tests will be used, and
  • The general type or category of test required i.e. scholastic, school readiness, numerical etc.

Step 3: Selection of the test.

This step has the largest amount of controversy surrounding it. Form 258 specifies assessments that Registered Counsellors may use. These psychometric assessments cover the areas of intelligence, ability, aptitude, learning potential, personality, interest, study habits, developmental measures and scholastic testing. It does need to be noted that Form 258 was last updated the 4th of October 2013 and there may be additional psychometric assessments which a Registered Counsellor may use but do not feature on the list.

Next would be contacting the relevant company/organization for the test/s itself. These organisations include Mindmuzik and the various relevant test developers. They will provide guidance on what to use. It is important to note that on most psychometric measures training will be required. Additional sources of consultation regarding test selection would be colleagues or supervisors.

Before a psychometric test may be used it has to be classified and listed on Form 207. Form 207 was last updated June 2010 in its entirety but the list of classified tests were last updated by Board Notice 93 of 2014 (15 August 2014). As such a test may have been classified since but will not be on the list. It is the Registered Counsellor’s duty to obtain the proof of classification from the test developer prior to using it.

The Employment Equity Amendment Act 47 of 2013 with amended chapter 2 section 8 to read (emphasis added) “(d) has been certified by the Health Profession Council of South Africa established by section 2 of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act 56 of 1974), or any other body which may be authorized by law to certify those tests or assessments.” This adds a greater duty on the Registered Counsellor to ensure that the psychometric assessment they use have been certified, classified, and appropriately normed for their client/s. To date, this amendment is only applicable to the occupational focused psychometric assessments.

Registered Counsellors are not permitted to use:

  • Certain personality measures (e.g. TAT, CAT, Rorschach):
  • Specialist neuropsychological measures:
  • Measure that are used for the diagnosis of psychopathology (e.g. MMPI-2)

Step 4: Using the assessment and interpretation

Form 94 states the following competencies are important: Use the tests in a professional and ethical manner by following good testing practices; have instrumental knowledge and skill, and lastly have appropriate communication and interpersonal skills which underpin test administration, reporting and feedback.

It is imperative that the Registered Counsellors have the competencies as laid out in Form 94 as well as ensuring that they follow the rules as laid out in Annexure 12 of Act 56 of 1974, The Health Professions Act, Chapter 5 – Assessment Activities.

Chapter 5 of Annexure 12, Form 94, Form 258, Form 207 and Form 208 indicate that the responsibility for using a psychometric test in an ethical and professional manner lies on the test user.

The Registered Counsellor needs to be aware that there is currently a lot of contention concerning which tests they may or may not use. Other than Form 258, there is minimal guidance on this matter. It is the personal responsibility of the Registered Counsellor to ensure that the assessments they using are classified for use by a Registered Counsellor and most importantly that they remain and operate within their published scope of practice as stipulated in Form 258.

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