All M.Div. and M.A. students participate in a psychological assessment early in their seminary program. This assessment gives students valuable insight into their own personality and relational styles. The psychologists used by the seminary have a very clear picture of the particular personal and relational capacities needed for effective ministry and write their reports accordingly.
Psychological Assessment Policies
This policy addresses four questions:
- With whom and under what conditions may the psychological report be shared?
- The sharing of the psychological report with persons within the seminary is governed by the following policy: Access to psychological evaluations and background check information is limited to the following persons on an as needed basis: student, chair of Candidacy Committee, professor of Pastoral Care, DMM, Mentoring Group leader. Other persons can gain access to these evaluations only with the student’s written permission. When requesting access to a student candidacy file which contains these reports, a faculty member should confirm with the Candidacy Committee chair’s administrative assistant that he or she is the student’s Mentoring Group leader. (Adopted by faculty December 8, 2006)
- Mentors, individual therapists and group therapists who work with seminary students are key participants in their formation process. It would be beneficial if they could have more direct knowledge of the recommendations of the psychological assessment and the follow-up steps the student is taking within the Mentoring Group. The following policy applies to the sharing of the psychological evaluation with these persons:
- Mentoring Group leaders should encourage students in their group to give their individual therapist, group therapy leaders and mentors access to their psychological report. Release forms are available in the office of the Candidacy Committee Administrative Assistant.
- The Director of Mentored Ministries should encourage individual therapists, group therapy leaders, and mentors to ask for the student’s psychological report.
This policy of encouragement makes clear to all parties that full disclosure is a preferred value, but leaves the ultimate decision to share the psychological report with the student.
- What is the seminary’s policy on students receiving copies of their psychological evaluation?
The seminary does not give students a copy of their psychological evaluations. Students are invited to read their own psychological evaluations but only as part of a dialogue with a Mentoring Group leader or the Director of Mentored Ministries. The seminary has this policy for the following reasons:
- The psych assessment is written first of all for the seminary. The psychologists are hired by the seminary. If the primary audience shifts to the student, student’s spouse, and/or anyone else the student may desire to show the assessment, it changes how the assessments are written and reduces their effectiveness.
- Psych assessments are subject to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Students are understandably defensive about many assertions in a psych assessment. Giving students copies of the assessments sets students up to zero in on one word or assertion, defend against it, and discount the whole assessment.
- Psych assessments often discuss the behavior of other significant persons in the life of the student whose privacy must be protected. For example, psych assessments frequently describe the student’s family of origin in sensitive ways that could be misunderstood by family members and others. In such cases, the privacy rights of parents must be strictly protected. Failure by the seminary to do so potentially exposes the seminary to liability.
(Adopted by Faculty Nov 2, 2007)
- What rights do students have if they disagree with the psychological assessment?
The psychological tests and interview which are part of the admissions procedure for some programs are used as part of the seminary program of personal formation and growth for ministry. The reports of these tests and interview will be interpreted for each student by the testing psychologist as part of the process. A student who disagrees with what is written in the psychological report should make an appointment with the dean of students to discuss the disagreement. The student has a right to a second opinion. The second assessment will be done by a qualified psychologist mutually agreed upon by the student and the seminary, with the fee being split between the student and the seminary. (Faculty Minute #6297, 10/01/99)
- What is the policy for psychological assessment for on-line students?
CRC students in on-line programs that require psychological testing will be sent the battery of psychological tests administered by Psychology Associates of Grand Rapids (PAGR) and asked to return them to PAGR for scoring. A follow-up interview with PAGR will be scheduled in connection with visits by the students to the CTS campus. CTS, with the assistance of PAGR, will help students who cannot come for an interview in Grand Rapids to arrange to take the interview with a certified psychologist in their area. CTS will subsidize actual costs of testing and follow-up interviews up to the rate paid to PAGR. Students will be responsible for any additional costs.(Faculty Minute # 6863, 11/01/02)
Follow-up in Mentoring Groups
Mentoring group leaders receive their students’ psychological reports and work with students to follow up on psychologists suggestions or recommendations. Psychologists use the word suggestion for follow-up activities that will aid the student’s further growth and emotional development but require no accountability from the student on how he or she followed up on the suggestion. Psychologists use the word recommendation for follow-up activities that require student engagement and accountability. Recommendations involve areas of growth that are crucial for successful candidacy and ministry in the CRC. Students should work closely with their Mentoring group leaders to understand these recommendations and to take appropriate action steps.
Psychological Assessment Follow-up Activities
Psychological assessment follow-up activities may include academic support, CPE, counseling, and/or training seminars and groups.