Session Abstract: SPA’s 2022 Call for Programs requests offerings that 1) give fresh perspectives on personality assessment and 2) connections to overall psychological assessment. Hope is not a new idea; its use and perspective in psychology goes back decades. Its “freshness” stems from the perspective it continues to give in confronting and surmounting life’s challenges. This symposium explores the critical importance of Hope in both theory and practice. Case discussions examine in detail the role of Hope in resolving issues surrounding attachment, shame, mistrust, and suicide. They discuss Hope as a key component in Collaborative Therapeutic Assessment (CTA), providing strong context and process for helping the client. Additionally, they address how the assessor can hold onto Hope, both for self and client, when the flame of Hope seems extinguished. Our first presentation considers a 60-year-old man, a highly successful medical professional, whose lifetime of denied emotions backed up on him. They finally exploded into self-directed anger in a brutal, gory attempt at suicide. His journey back from this precipice is not easy; it requires ongoing intervention post-assessment to move him toward Hope. Another presentation uses case examples to demonstrate attachment assessment as strength-based. Biologically-based conditional strategies demonstrate the potential for integration and the defensive processing assessed using the AAP. Explaining the results to clients from this perspective can help them name what is not named. Understanding and naming the client’s strengths can provide Hope for future change. A third presentation explores a client with profound shame, who lives in a highly critical environment. For such clients, Hope can feel foreign and undeserved. The use of empathy, mentalization, judicious self-disclosure, and metaphors illustrates how the assessor/ therapist sees, shares and holds onto Hope when her client cannot. In a fourth presentation, a 38-year-old man at first had an extremely negative and suspicious approach to the assessment. He arrived at the assessment completely lacking in confidence in himself and in others as a result of painful physical experiences caused by a serious physical problem in childhood. Finally, our discussant applies his unique perspective to integrate these presentations and their focus on Hope.
Chair Information: Diane H. Engelman, PhD | Center for Collaborative Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine
Discussant Information: Stephen E. Finn, PhD | Center for Therapeutic Assessment
Presentation 1 Title: The Suicidal Stoic: From Failure to Mini-Steps Toward Hope
Presentation Abstract: This presentation considers a 60-year-old man, a highly successful medical professional, whose lifetime of denied emotions backed up on him; they finally exploded into self-directed anger in a brutal, gory attempted suicide. His journey back from this precipice does not happen easily and requires ongoing intervention during and after the psychological assessment.
Diane H. Engelman, PhD | Center for Collaborative Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine
JB Allyn, MBA | Center for Collaborative Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine
Presentation 2 Title: Don’t Be Discouraged: Attachment Pathways to Hope
Presentation Abstract: This presentation uses examples from two or three cases to demonstrate attachment assessment as strength-based assessment in the context of biologically-based conditional strategies. These strategies are evidenced by potential for integration and the defensive processing assessed using the AAP. The presenter demonstrates in the examples how explaining the results to clients from this perspective can help clients name what is not named and move forward – this is true for the therapist as well. This understanding combined with naming the client’s strengths can provide hope for future change.
Carol George, PhD | Mills College
Presentation 3 Title: When Shame Eclipses Hope: Finding, Holding, and Building Hope When Your Client Cannot
Presentation Abstract: Shame and hopelessness are tightly connected, since feeling defective at one’s core can feel intractable. Hope can feel foreign and undeserved. This presentation will explore the presenter's efforts to help a client with profound shame who lives in a highly critical environment. Empathy, mentalization, judicious self-disclosure, and metaphors will illustrate how the therapist/assessor sees, communicates and holds onto hope when the client cannot.
Julie Cradock O’Leary, PhD | Private Practice
Presentation 4 Title: The Scorpio-Man. An Unusual Extended Inquiry with the Wartegg Test
Presentation Abstract: The Wartegg Drawing Completion Test (WDCT) is a semi structured, graphic projective technique that can be classified as a performance-based psychological test. The test consists of 8 boxes in each of which a small sign-stimulus is represented. The examiner is asked to use the sign-stimulus as a starting point to draw something. A very peculiar characteristic of the Wartegg test is represented by the evocative character of its boxes. The evocative character is for some way like the “pull card” described by Exner for the Rorschach. In the Wartegg test, evidence based data showed how each single box, thanks to its own evocative character, tends to facilitate the projection of specific contents. Thus box 1 is often linked to self-assessment and self-perception, box 8 to social relations, box 5 to the management of aggressive dynamics and so on. A new methodology of scoring and interpretation, the Crisi Wartegg System or CWS (Crisi 1998, 2007, 2018), has recently been developed to enhance its reliability and validity. In this work a case of collaborative assessment is presented during which it was possible to collect an interesting extended inquiry on the Wartegg test. The examinee, a 38-year-old man, at first had an extremely negative and suspicious approach to the assessment. In fact, he had come to the assessment more because of his partner's insistence rather than his own internal motivations. After overcoming his resistance, the examinee was subjected to interviews and a battery of tests that included the Wartegg test. In this test, the man created highly personalized, original, and meaningful designs in each of the 8 boxes of the Wartegg. It is known that Wartegg stimulates the production of drawings with a strongly metaphorical meaning, but it is surprising how this happened in the present case. The examiner, in fact, captured the evocative character of each stimulus sign in the test with extreme precision and adherence. And in each box, in perfect agreement with the psychological area stimulated by the evocative character of the stimulus-sign, he produced drawings concerning his own life. As it is possible to imagine, such a metaphorical production has given rise to a truly unusual and profound extended inquiry. From the extended investigation, which lasted 5 meetings, extremely significant elements of the life and painful experiences experienced by the examiner emerged. Having dealt with these issues led, already during the extended investigation, to an alleviation of symptoms and an improvement in relationships within one's family of origin. At the end of the assessment, the examiner decided to start a psychotherapeutic path aimed at deepening and further examining the elements that emerged during the assessment.
Alessandro Crisi, PsyD | Istituto Italiano Wartegg- Rome, Italy