Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Jackie Gray attends WAIS-IV training course

Jackie Gray reports back from the WAIS-IV training course she attended last week:

I have just attended an excellent 3-day training course on the administration, scoring and interpretation of the WAIS-IV, run by Debbie McQueirns of Forensic Psychology Solutions Ltd. The course provided an introduction to the historical and theoretical development of the concept of intelligence, and approaches to measurement. We then moved on to focus specifically on the WAIS-IV, considering the general guidelines for administration, before starting a series of role-plays in which we administered the various subtests. The administration practice allowed the development of a sense of familiarity with the materials, the format of the (invaluable) Administration and Scoring Manual, and the scoring forms. The final day encompassed consideration of issues including analysis, interpretation, formulation, malingering and report writing.

As an academic, it was particularly useful to work with people who are in practice, and who are training to become forensic psychologists. Some of the other delegates had used the WAIS-IV as part of their training, but wanted to become more proficient in its use, and their experiences brought to light considerations that I otherwise may not have been aware of. The use of the WAIS-IV as more than just a measure of cognitive ability was particularly interesting. Debbie McQueirns is a strong advocate of integrating the findings from the WAIS-IV with broader clinical assessment. A good WAIS-IV assessment should include detailed examination of factors that might affect performance, such as feedback from the person being assessed throughout the process, as well as recording aspects about their history that may be relevant and your own clinical observations. This information can then be combined with their WAIS-IV performance to inform the development of hypotheses about the individual and feed into formulation. This clinical approach reflects the aims originally set out by Wechsler, that the WAIS provides a lot more than a single number!

I attended this course as I felt I needed to understand more about the WAIS-IV and the practicalities of it use. I had (with some apprehension) expected a much more formulaic approach to assessment, and was therefore very happy to find a qualitative, complex and holistic approach being advocated. The limitations of a single IQ score were noted throughout, and the nuance that is lost in such an approach was evident through the case studies used during the training. The focus on the person being assessed, the reason for the assessment and the questions to be answered were also ongoing themes. This was a useful and insightful training course, that emphasised throughout the need for ethical practice, the BPS codes of conduct, and the scientist/practitioner approach. I would recommend it to anyone who may want to research or practice in this area.

Jackie Gray, 6th February, 2014.

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