Question

Given your own values regarding internal and external aspects of the person, psychometric rigor, and world view, do you think you would want to use projective techniques?
Why or why not?
If yes, where do you stand on the formal-structured versus informal-impressionistic continuum of using them?


This week’s question is delicate, considering the psychometric rigor that is involved in testing, but moreover, this rigor comes in, especially when we attempt to quantifying a qualitative data. Aiken and Groth-Marnat (2006) exposed both sides of the coin. On the one hand, projective techniques can inform us of valuable information about someone’s personality; however, when this data cannot be compared with the general population sample, the reliability and the validity of projective techniques are highly questionable.
When one reads our textbook, it may consider the criticism of projective techniques just like graphology or other pseudoscience. Especially the projective drawing or the Draw-a-Person Test (DAP), they are more psychoanalytic oriented and if these tests have any kind of merits, they belong to more severe diseases in which the clinician needs to explore the bottom of the unconscious. With the permission of the class, this essay will bring in a personal experience that awakened the author’s attention. The word “I” will be omitted, so that it meet the professional standards of our class. One of the author’s brothers is the head of an autistic children institution in Paris. One day, the director of the program called the author and was in total euphoria. What happened that day in this institution was simply incredible. A gifted autistic child was put to draw for two years in a row, and one day as he was drawing, he did not continue his line on the table, crossing the margin of the paper. He actually stops at the margin and even draws a circular line before the end of the paper. This was revealing in both aspect: 1) the child stop before the end, and 2) it was finally a circular form. Within the context of autism, some of this information may be very indicative about the mental state of an individual.
However, in regard of other form of therapy, especially therapies that have been designed for short term period, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), it will be difficult to conceive projective techniques. As mentioned in Aiken and Groth-Marnat (2006), projective techniques stemmed from psychoanalysis.
In light of pros and cons mentioned earlier, Miller and Nickerson (2006) mentioned that projective techniques have been widely used in the context of school psychology. These techniques include sentence completion, apperception tests and projective drawing. Miller and Nickerson describe the sensitivity of the Rorschach test, for it is the most widely used test and yet the most controversial, because of its validity. According Miller and Nickerson, the question is not much about the test, rather about the experience clinician acquire over the years, before using projective techniques.
In conclusion, one should not discredit any techniques to define and measure personality. Indeed, another interesting article written by Miller (2005) emphasizes on the value of individuation process, based on the famous theories of Carl Jung that were scaffold on the mandala designs. Again, it seems to bring us back to the therapy that is going to be designed for the client. In a long term therapy which have a more psychoanalytic approach, projective techniques may be used at the discretion of the clinician, based on an acquired experience.

References
Aiken, L. R., & Groth-Marnat, G. (2006). Psychological Testing and Assessment. Boston: Pearson Education Group.
Miller, D. (2005). Mandala Symbolism in Psychotherapy: the Potential Utility of the Lowenfeld Technique for Enhamcing the Individuation Process. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 37(2), 164-172.
Miller, D. N., & Nickerson, A. B. (2006). Projective Assessment and School Psychology: Contemporary Issues and Implications for Practice. The California School Psychologist, 11, 73-81.

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The idea that projective techniques can reveal to the psychologist valuable information that would be impossible to derive through other forms of assessment is contentious. The scoring of projective tests is almost entirely subjective and the low levels of reliability, validity and standardization make it likely that different psychologists scoring the same set of results would arrive at different conclusions (Aiken, 2006)....

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