2.2.6 When are psychodiagnostic instruments used?

2.2.6 When are psychodiagnostic instruments used?

The psychologist should ensure that their professional actions are of a high quality (see Article 14, “Quality care”). The psychologist is supposed to use psychodiagnostic instruments only if there is a reasonable expectation that using these will raise the quality of a finding or of a recommendation about a person or a group. The administration of a psychodiagnostic instrument is generally perceived as stressful by a client and/or those around them, such as parents, a partner or a teacher, because it requires a mental effort on the part of the person examined. People should therefore not be unnecessarily burdened by the use of such measuring instruments.

A client is, or could be, unnecessarily burdened if, inter alia, the choice (and the usefulness) of an instrument cannot be justified. The fact that an institution has a policy of giving each client who comes to it the same test or battery of tests is, for instance, not in itself a sufficient basis for choosing it. The psychologist should be able to justify why this test or battery of tests is needed in the case of a particular client. At the same time, the psychologist should be able to say why they opt not to use psychodiagnostic instruments or a specific test. See also BOXES 1 and 2 in the Introduction.

The psychologist can substantiate the choice of whether to use an instrument by referring to the relevant literature, drawing on their own research, or making deductions from the literature and/or research, including their own. An increase in the quality of an advisory procedure as a result of the use of psychodiagnostic instruments can manifest itself as an increase in validity, reliability and/or efficiency in relation to the use of other sources of information such as school grades, job performance, anamnestic data, a practice simulation, projects, or an expert opinion.

A client is, or could be, unnecessarily burdened if an instrument has recently been administered that has the same measuring pretension and the case cannot be made that repeating this assessment, or doing an additional one, is necessary – see BOX 5. Please note: there are certainly circumstances in which it is reasonable to administer a psychodiagnostic test repeatedly. Examples include the evaluation of an intervention and a case where there is a need for in-depth research on a specific domain. However, the case then must be made that the psychologist has taken into account procedural and learning effects, such as those set out in the case of the client in BOX 5.

It can also be that a client is unnecessarily burdened if the psychometric properties of the test (such as reliability, validity and norms) are insufficient given the target group to which the client belongs (see 2.2.7, “Principles in the choice of psychodiagnostic instruments”) and if the psychologist cannot make the case that use of the test is justified. In applying newly developed methods, whose psychometric qualities have not yet been proven, or using an instrument in new fields of application, the psychologist should tread carefully and cautiously (see Article 17, “Care and caution with regards to new methods”). For an elaboration of this, see the case set out in BOX 6. In this context it is relevant to mention that the Code states that the psychologist should do what they can to contribute to the development of norms and standards in their field (see Article 16, “Professional standards”).

In addition, a client is, or could be, burdened unnecessarily if in the choice of an instrument too little account is taken of physical or intellectual disabilities, a lack of fluency in Dutch, or the client’s non-Dutch cultural background. Psychodiagnostic instruments that have been developed (including norms) and tested for their psychometric properties within cultural and language area X, for example, cannot be used just like that within cultural and language area Y. Also, the evidence for the psychometric characteristics of the psychodiagnostic instruments within cultural and language area X cannot be applied on a one-to-one basis to culture Y (see also 2.2.9, “Use of psychodiagnostic instruments with special groups”).

The Code stipulates that, in entering into and continuing the professional relationship, the psychologist should provide the client with information on the assessment methods or treatment(s) that are eligible, on what can and cannot be expected of these, and on the type of information that is collected on the client. This information should preferably be given in writing and, where possible, explained orally (see Article 63, “Information on the establishment and continuation of the Professional Relationship”). The Code (and in particular Article 59, “Respect for autonomy and self-determination”; Article 63, “Information on the establishment and continuation of the Professional Relationship”; and Article 65, “Consultation on the details of the Professional Relationship”) offers space for the client to have their wishes and views be considered on whether to use instruments to measure characteristic X (intelligence, or motivation to achieve) and/or how thorough the investigation should be. See the case set out in BOX 7. This reflects a tension between the right to self-determination on the part of the client and the psychologist’s professional responsibility, which among other things is also an issue in the field of medicine.