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Common Psychological Tests

The most common test by far is the MMPI-2, with other tests like the MCMI-III and the The Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank (RISB) used to confirm the MMPI-2 results.

"Classic" tests such as the Rorschach are not used as frequently in custody evaluations since the advent of more specialized tests, such as the Thematic Aperception Test (TAT) and the series of tests developed by Barry Bricklin of Bricklin Associates (Bricklin Perceptual Scales (BPS), Perception Of Relationship Test (PORT), Parent Awareness Skills Survey (PASS), Parent Perception of Child Profile (PPCP), etc).

This list is provided to familiarize you with the most common kinds of tests you may be given during the course of a custody evaluation. Specifics on the test scales, ranges, and administration are not detailed here in order to preserve the test's validity. Providing information on how the tests are scored, or what are considered "acceptable" responses would invalidate the purpose of these tests.



MCMI-III™ (Millon™ Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III)
The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III instrument is a self-report instrument designed to help the clinician assess DSM-IV-related personality disorders and clinical syndromes. A significant revision of the MCMI-II™ instrument, this instrument incorporates new items, a new item-weighting system, and new scales to provide insight into 14 personality disorders and 10 clinical syndromes.

The instrument is useful in assessing Axis I and Axis II disorders based on the new DSM-IV classification system, identifying the personality disorders that underlie a patient's presenting symptoms, and designing appropriate and efficient treatment programs.



MACI™ (Millon™ Adolescent Clinical Inventory)
The Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory instrument is a brief self-report personality inventory with a strong clinical focus. Evolving from the Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory (MAPI™) instrument, the MACI instrument was designed with a more focused normative sample consisting of adolescents in various clinical treatment settings. Through a series of contemporary questions, it helps the clinician assess an adolescent's personality, along with self-reported concerns and clinical syndromes.

The MACI instrument is used for adolescent assessment in outpatient, inpatient, or residential treatment settings. The MACI instrument can be used by psychologists, psychiatrists, school psychologists, juvenile justice professionals, and other mental health professionals. It can be useful in initial evaluation of troubled adolescents to confirm diagnostic hypotheses, in planning individualized treatment programs, and in measuring treatment progress.



MAPI™ (Millon™ Adolescent Personality Inventory)
The Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory (MAPI) instrument is a brief self-report inventory designed specifically for assessing adolescent personality characteristics including coping styles, expressed concerns, and behavioral patterns. The MAPI instrument was normed on both normal adolescents and adolescent patients.

The MAPI instrument is used in clinical, correctional, and educational settings by psychologists, psychiatrists, and school counselors as well as other mental health and guidance professionals. It can be very useful in the initial evaluation of typical and troubled adolescents and in diagnosis and treatment planning.

NOTE: The MAPI is still available for sale and is used, although in far fewer instances than the MACI. Because it includes both clinical and "normal" adolescent norms, it is useful in situations where the clinician cannot assume clinical problems.



MBHI™ (Millon™ Behavioral Health Inventory)
The Millon Behavioral Health Inventory instrument is a brief self-report personality inventory designed to help the clinician assess the psychological coping factors related to the physical health care of adult medical patients. The MBHI instrument provides valuable information about the patient's style of coping and the patient's perceptions of the kinds of stress that may be affecting his or her medical condition.

The MBHI instrument is used in health care and counseling settings by psychologists and psychiatrists who work with patients in hospitals, clinics, and private practice. It is useful in:


  • Evaluation and screening of physically ill, injured, and surgical patients to help identify possible psychosomatic complications or help predict response to illness or treatment.
  • Workers' compensation evaluations to help assess stress-related claims. For claims related to physical injuries, the MBHI instrument can help in the development of effective rehabilitation programs.
  • Evaluation and screening of individuals in specialty clinics or programs (e.g., pain, stress, headache) who have problems that may stem from a psychological disorder or an unidentified stressor.



DPRS® (Derogatis Psychiatric Rating Scale)
The Derogatis Psychiatric Rating Scale (DPRS) instrument, formerly known as the Hopkins Psychiatric Rating Scale, is a multidimensional psychiatric rating scale provided by NCS. The DPRS was designed for use with the SCL-90-R® instrument or BSI® self-report instruments. It is often used to validate patients' self-reports.

Designed for use by clinicians trained in psychopathology, the DPRS instrument enables the clinician to rate his or her observations of a patient's psychological symptomatic distress on the same nine primary dimensional scales as the SCL-90-R and BSI instruments. With the DPRS instrument, the clinician can also rate the patient on eight additional dimensions that are important to accurate clinical assessment but that are not amenable to patient self-report



MMPI-2™ (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2™)
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) instrument, the restandardized version of the original MMPI® instrument, is an empirically-based assessment of adult psychopathology. The MMPI-2 instrument, provided by NCS, is the standard that mental health professionals use to help measure psychopathology across a broad range of client settings. The MMPI-2 instrument is used by clinicians in hospitals, clinics, counseling programs, and private practice to assist with the diagnosis of mental disorders and the selection of an appropriate treatment method.

Derived from the original MMPI instrument, the MMPI-2 instrument preserves the most valuable features of the original assessment while addressing contemporary concerns to provide better descriptive and diagnostic information for clients today. The MMPI-2 instrument contains items appropriate and relevant to current test-takers. Special effort has been made to eliminate sexist wording and outmoded content. Duplicate items and items with objectionable content have also been eliminated.

he MMPI-2 consists of 567 statements to which the subject responds with true, false, or cannot say. It was designed primarily for adults and has not yet been used for children (although the 1992 MMPI-A was designed for adolescents). The items cover a wide range of topics, including attitudes on religion and sexual practices, perceptions of health, political ideas, information on family, education, and occupation, and displays of symptoms known to be exhibited by certain groups of mentally disturbed people.

The normative sample of the MMPI-2 instrument consists of 1,138 males and 1,462 females between the ages of 18 and 80 from several geographic regions and diverse communities within the U.S. The sample is much larger and more nationally representative than that of the original MMPI instrument.



QOLI® (Quality of Life Inventory)
The QOLI assessment can help clinicians assess problems in living in 16 areas of life for an individual and the degree to which the individual is satisfied or dissatisfied with each area in his or her own life. The assessment also includes an overall score.

Assessment Areas: health, self-esteem, goals and values, money, work, play, learning, creativity, helping, love, friends, children, relatives, home, neighborhood, community.

Providing a nonpathological measure of an individual's mental health, the QOLI assessment was designed to augment measures of negative affect and psychiatric symptoms.

Applications of the QOLI assessment include:


  • Outcome assessment and treatment planning for mental and physical disorders

  • Non-heath related personal counseling settings such as organizational development, EAPs and college counseling centers to help people focus on improving their quality of life

  • Tracking patient treatment progress and documenting change

  • Helping to identify people at risk for developing health problems or disorders

  • Assisting in gathering information to help establish the efficacy of different treatments or services

  • Substance abuse treatment and assessment

  • Behavioral medicine assessment





TAT (Thematic Aperception Test)
The Thematic Aperception Test assesses personality through projective technique focusing on dominant drives, emotions, sentiments, complexes, attitudes and conflicts. The subject is shown pictures one at a time and asked to make up a story about each picture.

Subject age range: 7+ years.

Normally given in two sessions, one day apart. (Approximately 60 minutes per session.)




CPI (California Personality Inventory)

CPI (California Personality Inventory) was designed to assess normal characteristics in healthy individuals and personality characteristcs important in daily living. The CPI looks like the MMPI (many multiple choice items), but the scales are quite different (Masculinity/Femininity, Dominance, Introverted/Extroverted, etc.). Like the MMPI, the CPI produces a personality profile of the individual on each of the scales in the test.

Used in business for personnel selection, identifying creativity, and vocational and personal counseling; in schools and colleges for academic counseling, identifying leaders, and predicting success in various public service occupations; in clinics and counseling agencies for evaluating substance abuse, susceptibility to physical illness, maritial discord, juvenile delinquency and criminality, and social immaturity; and for cross cultural and other research.

NOTE: The CPI has been replaced with the 'CPI-Revised', basically an updated version of the CPI test.





BPS (Bricklin Perceptual Scales)
A research-based custody test which measures a child's perceptions of each parent in four critical areas: competency, supportiveness, consistency, and admirable traits. Typically used on children age 6 and up.

The BPS is made up of 64 cards, each about the size of a business envelope (3.5" by 8.5"). On one side of every card is a horizontal line. It is aligned with a scoring grid on the other side. The child sees only the lines; the examiner sees the test questions and the scoring grids. Each card is placed in a cardboard box on a piece of Styrofoam, with the horizontal line facing up. In response to a question, the child punches a hole through the line using a stylus-pen.

The BPS scoring sheet groups the test questions in four main areas, measuring the child's perceptions of each parent's ability to be: (1) a good role model for the skills of competency; (2) a source of warmth and empathy; (3) consistent; (4) a role model for other admirable traits.




PORT (Perception-of-Relationships Test)
The Perception-of-Relationships Test measures how close a child feels to each parent, and the positive and negative impacts of each relationship. Typically used on children age 3 years, 2 months and up.

Like its companion test, the Bricklin Perceptual Scales (BPS), the PORT is a data-based projective test, where the data base has been developed specifically to assist informed custody decision making. The test is made up of seven tasks (mostly drawings) that measure the degree to which a child seeks to be psychologically "close" to each parent, and the strengths and weaknesses developed as a result of interacting with each parent.

Specifically, the PORT measures:

1. The degree to which a child seeks psychological "closeness" (positive interactions with) each parent
2. The types of action tendencies (dispositions to behave in certain ways e.g., assertively, passively, aggressively, fearfully, etc.) - adaptive as well as maladaptive - the child has had to develop to permit or accommodate interaction with each parent.

It is particularly useful in custody decision making because it sheds light on the degree to which a child actually seeks interaction with a given parent, and reflects the degree to which he or she has been able to work out a comfortable, conflict-free style of relating to each parent.




PASS (Parent Awareness Skills Survey)
The Parent Awareness Skills Survey reflects the sensitivity and effectiveness with which a parent responds to typical childcare situations. Its 6 scores pinpoint parental awareness of:


  • the critical issues in a given situation;
  • adequate solutions;
  • the need to communicate in terms understandable to a child;
  • the desirability of acknowledging a child's feelings;
  • the importance of the child's own past history in the present circumstance; and
  • the need to pay attention to how the child is responding in order to finetune one's own response.




PPCP (Parent Perception of Child Profile)


The PPCP elicits an extensive portrait of a parent's knowledge and understanding of a specific child. It helps the Evaluator assess the degree to which a parent's perception: (1) are accurate; (2) compare to other sources; (3) reflect genuine interest in a child. The PPCP also assesses the irritability potential of a parent towards a specific child.

The Parent Perception of Child Profile offers a parent an opportunity to express what he or she knows about a particular child in a wide variety of important life areas.

Responses are gathered in eight categories:

  • Interpersonal Relations

  • Daily Routine

  • Health History

  • Developmental History

  • School History

  • Fears

  • Personal Hygiene

  • Communication Style


The PPCP can be Evaluator-administered or self-administerd. One main use of the PPCP is to compare the responses of selected respondents, e.g., the two parents. Comparisons can be made in several ways, including accuracy and depth of knowledge in any given life area, especially one (or several) deemed critical to a particular child, and the feelings and attitudes expressed.



HTP (House - Tree - Person Projective Drawing Technique)


Designed to aid clinician in obtaining information concerning an individual's sensitivity, maturity, flexibility, efficiency, degree of personality integration, and interaction with the environment. Subject is asked to draw pictures of a house, a tree, and a person. Subject is given an opportunity to explain the drawings.

In common with other projective measures of personality (eg. the Rorschach, or TAT), the H-T-P provides a structured context for the projection of unconscious material. Like a specific ink blot or TAT card, the subject is always presented with blank paper (or a standardized drawing form) and standard instructions as to what is to be drawn (the house, the tree, the person).

Combining an ease of administration with a maximum of projective potential, the H-T-P allows the clinician to gather information that might not otherwise be available in a structured, verbal interview.

Unlike the Rorschach or TAT, the H-T-P presents a maximum of ambiguity for the subject. Whereas the Rorschach and TAT present a stimulus card which does not change over time, the H-T-P presents the subject with a completely blank field onto which they are asked to draw and project. Every subject will draw a house, but every house will differ. The result is a collection of projective material organized around standard themes. The H-T-P can claim a great deal of freedom from stimulus bias.

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