Men­tal as­sess­ment: Don clar­i­fies roles of psy­chol­o­gists, psy­chi­a­trists

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - From Has­san Ibrahim, Lafia

The on­go­ing ref­er­ence of driv­ers for var­i­ous road traf­fic vi­o­la­tions for Psy­cho­log­i­cals as­sess­ment by the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps, FRSC, has gen­er­ated sev­eral re­ac­tions from con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als, ac­tivists and pro­fes­sional bod­ies, on the le­gal­ity or other­wise of the ex­er­cise.

There is also furore over those that will be re­spon­si­ble for the eval­u­a­tion ex­er­cise, with the As­so­ci­a­tion of Psy­chi­a­trists in Nige­ria, (APN), ask­ing the FRSC to be mind­ful of the fact that psy­chol­o­gists do not have au­tonomous man­date to as­sess the men­tal sta­tus of traf­fic of­fend­ers, and that psy­chol­o­gists are sub­or­di­nate to psy­chi­a­trists.

This did not go down well with the Nige­rian Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, (NPA), who through its Na­tional Pres­i­dent, Pro­fes­sor Andrew Za­mani, a Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gists, said,“Ev­ery psy­chol­o­gist ir­re­spec­tive of their ar­eas of spe­cial­iza­tion have core com­pe­ten­cies for this func­tion. Prac­tice in­cli­na­tions and the con­texts of prac­tice how­ever de­ter­mine bi­ases in the na­ture of as­sess­ment ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken and uses of tests by psy­chol­o­gists.”

“If it ap­plies to ha­bit­ual of­fend­ers, it makes sense. For those who per­pet­u­ate high risk driv­ing be­hav­iors such as drunk-driv­ing, ex­ceed speed limit spec­i­fi­ca­tions, drive in the wrong lane, etc the de­ci­sion is rel­e­vant. To im­ple­ment this how­ever a lot of things should be con­sid­ered," he said.

Za­mani said: “In the first in­stance, it is in­struc­tive for the gen­eral pub­lic to note that the dis­ci­pline of psy­chol­ogy is a very large field. It has over 200 sub -dis­ci­plines that are de­fined by their the­o­ret­i­cal pro­jec­tions and ori­en­ta­tions of prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions. The na­tional re­quire­ment for ev­ery psy­chol­o­gist in Nige­ria is to ob­tain a min­i­mum 490 days or the equiv­a­lent of one year 36 days to learn psy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing and as­sess­ment.”

“In the health care set­tings, Clin­i­cal, Health and Clin­i­cal Coun­sel­ing, Psy­chol­o­gists work with Psy­chi­a­trists and other doc­tors as team mates and col­leagues. Psy­chol­o­gists re­spect the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the doc­tor and the pa­tient. We also ac­knowl­edge their spe­cial and over­rid­ing role in de­ci­sions on ad­mis­sion and dis­charge of pa­tients with their at­ten­dant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and con­se­quences.” he said.

He said both clin­i­cal and foren­sic psy­chol­o­gists are trained to con­duct the as­sess­ment, and are ex­pected to show the same com­pe­ten­cies as psy­chi­a­trists in this re­spect, so long there is an es­tab­lished prima fa­cie ba­sis for fur­ther psy­cho­me­t­ric eval­u­a­tion and ther­apy.

“The psy­chi­a­trist is how­ever more in­clined to­wards the bi­o­log­i­cal model and there­fore gives his in­formed opin­ion based on this in­cli­na­tion. He also has ba­sic train­ing on the uses of psy­cho­me­t­ric screen­ing tools. The psy­chol­o­gist as­sesses in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­ity, per­son­al­ity, at­ti­tudes and emo­tional func­tion­ing while the psy­chi­a­trist as­sesses symp­tom pat­terns and men­tal sta­tus," he said.

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