The impact of culture on psychological assessment
The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between culture and the clinical practice of psychological assessment. Over the past decade, psychologists have come under criticism for maintaining a mainstream cultural status quo in clinical practice. In particular, indigenous peoples throughout the world have pointed out that clinical psychologists, in both research and practice, have not successfully been able to understand or deliver culturally appropriate services due to Psychology's entrenched, Western European, ethnocentric perspective. In order to understand the difficulties that psychologists might face in performing assessments on people of First Nations heritage, a collaborative research project was undertaken with a process and heuristic orientation. Collaboration occurred between myself and the Social Development Sector of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Multiple sources of data were used in the study, including observation, open-ended interview, and analysis of archival data. All data were qualitative in nature. Analyses included qualitative content and process analysis as well as indwelling. Included in the project is a review of the literature in Cultural Psychology and the cultural aspects of Psychological Assessment. Results from the study suggest that assumptions and biases can occur between mainstream psychologists and First Nations people that will interfere with competent and accurate assessment and communication. These assumptions and biases derive from both the culture of the psychologist and the discipline of Psychology itself. Understanding of the First Nations person with whom the psychologist is attempting to interact will not occur unless the psychologist is prepared to undertake a deep learning about the heritage First Nations peoples. In addition, the psychologist must be willing to enter into a process of self-examination in order to understand what beliefs, heritage, training, and experiences he or she personally is bringing into the assessment process. Suggestions for future research are included.