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Working with Transgender Clients: Considerations for Psychological Testing and Assessment

Psychological assessment is an important component of clinical psychology. It allows for a greater understanding of an individual in various ways including socio-emotional functioning, cognitive and neurological processes, and/or adaptive skill, among others. Psychologists incorporate and execute a combination of methods to reach a hypothesis about a person.  Tests can be standardized and norm-referenced for particular age groups, grades, or gender. Yet, little has been spoken of regarding protocols to be taken when assessing clients who do not identify with their assigned sex.

I submitted a manuscript to the Graduate Student Journal of Psychology, published by Columbia University. My article will be featured in their July 2016 issue, and provides a theoretical overview regarding sex, gender, and transgender identity. The article also incorporates professional applications and considerations for utilizing gender-normed assessments. In particular, there is a focus on promoting clinical awareness and upholding ethical standards when working with transgender populations. As of present, guidelines and set protocols specifically for psychological testing with this population have not been established.

This article attempts to outline procedures and applications which are exclusively intended for working with transgender populations in psychological testing.  Included are the American Psychological Ethical Standards, the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People, along with the Standards of Care (SOC) for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender-Nonconforming People. The importance of multiculturalism, as well as recognizing issues of diversity, is further discussed. This article also creates a paradigm for future studies to establish norm-referenced testing.

I decided to write a theoretical article to increase awareness of this issue. Although our school has a humanistic foundation, these ideals and practices can be congruent with conducting testing because it is imperative that there is a focus on client growth and evaluator authenticity; as well as treating the client with inherent value.

Katherine Lewitzke, PsyD 4Kat Lewitzke is currently a fourth year PsyD student at MSP.  To read Kat’s full article: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/publications/gsjp/