Psychological Assessment Day!

by Christine on June 16, 2011

Tuesday June 14th, Scott & I headed to Knoxville to continue with this next step of the deaconate program.  A friend of ours who’s also applied had advised us to allow plenty of time.  Three hours to be exact!  Unfortunately, Scott & I couldn’t do it at the same time because they only had one computer allotted to this test.

I was going in first – the receptionist handed Scott a sheaf of documents to complete!  Here’s the thing… Scott hates paperwork.  As a matter of fact, any paperwork that he normally has to fill out he will bring to me to do it!  He’ll fill out forms online all day if he has too but present him with paper & pen & his color changes!

At 10:10 I started.  Approximately 175 statements that I had to reply to about me.  My choice of answer was “definite yes, definite no & undecided”.  Some questions were easy….

“The sight of blood makes me sick”.  NO

“I often have thoughts of suicide”. NO

“Most of the time, I am happy”. YES

“It makes me sad when people are gossiping about me”…  first of all, this is something I never think about and secondly I don’t care if people do.  And YES it does make me sad – I feel sad for those people that don’t have anything better to do but this question doesn’t imply anything.  So I replied “UNDECIDED”

Of course I want to be truthful but some of these statements didn’t leave choice for an honest answer.  For example, “Would you do anything to prevent cruelty to an animal”?  Yes but then again, define “Anything”.  I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a truck.  So if I do answer YES, will the shrink think I would go to extreme measures to save an animal?  I love animals, but I wouldn’t put my life in danger for one.

At the end of this part I get an “error” message – “You have more than 40 UNDECIDED”.  PLEASE GO BACK AND REVIEW YOUR ANSWERS.  Hmm, maybe I’m just that type of person… kind of on the fence about things.  Actually I’m not.  I’m really a “Black or White” person.  I have a problem with gray areas but these questions were really strange.

Then after this section I had to answer the same questions but this time about Scott!

Following this grueling hour or so (+ 350 questions), I get to the “True or False” segment.  576 questions!

“I hear voices” FALSE

“I see spirits” FALSE (I see dead people! :-)

“I am afraid of sharp objects” TRUE

“Plants talk to me” WHAT?

Don’t laugh, these were actual questions!   Do you really think I’m going to tell you if my English Ivy is chatting up a storm with me?

Finally I walk out to find Scott still completing the written questionnaire!   I was about to make fun of his predicament when the receptionist handed me a replica of the same sheaf of papers!  Ouch!

This was the part that I found a bit much….  “My” parents health, “my” parents profession, the atmosphere in “my” home growing up, “my” relationship with my siblings growing up…  and the jackpot questions were the ones that questioned my sex life! When had I had sex for the first time?  What did I think about sex growing up?  Did your family openly talk about sex?  Seriously, does someone need to know this to accept my husband’s application to the Deaconate program?

I have nothing to hide… my life is pretty much an open book but I think this psychologist should adapt her “quizzes” to the situation of the people getting these assessments.  These questions were clearly for someone visiting a shrink for the first time for psychological or emotional reasons.  Scott thought I was being overly sensitive…maybe I was!

Somehow, I expected the questions to be more of a religious/spiritual nature but I don’t remember answering anything even remotely religious.  Don’t you just hate these kinds of tests where there are no wrong answers and the person analyzing your responses will know your deepest, innermost feelings?

For the record, Scott doesn’t share my opinion on this and I’m okay with that.  He and I are different that way and that’s part of what makes our marriage work.

Our next step is meeting with this psychologist for the results of our assessment… stay tuned!  This should be interesting!

God Bless!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

mickl spencer June 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Wow! The fact that you didn’t throw up your hands and walk out should have impressed the psychologist favorably.

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Pauline June 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Just know that you never have to do this again. I was fortunate that ours was done on paper and it didn’t matter how many “undecided” I put. Hang in there, the hard part is almost over. Looking forward to more posts an your journey.

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Christine June 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Thank you Pauline, I appreciate your words of support!

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Christine June 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

She wasn’t around but I’ll be sure to let her know what I think!

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Pat June 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

This “inside” stuff is really interesting to me. Some of the most fun discussions I’ve had with people are with clergy–the life of the clergy.

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Christine June 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Pat, I’ll have more fodder for discussion later this week – we’re both meeting with the “counselor”!

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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher June 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I continue to be amazed that your diocese requires the wives of deacon aspirants to submit to psychological testing. And, truthfully, your husband should have answered the questions himself – it does not help the psychologist to have your answers to questions addressed to your husband…that being said, Charles said that his assessment was equally thorough.

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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher June 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Wait a minute – I just reread your post – you must have meant that you did the assessment for yourself and then both of you were required to answer the questions as you thought your spouse would answer? Like the Newlywed Game? I get it. Sorry. Still amazed that you are required to be tested, though…

In our diocese, as long as the wife of the deacon is supportive of the process of formation, there is no additional scrutiny of her.

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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher June 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I’m assuming that the extensive questions about sexual attitudes and history is to assess that the aspirant has healthy (rather than disordered) sexual attitudes. And the questions about family history are very important as well – the psychologist needs to know if the aspirant (and in your diocese’s case, the aspirant’s wife) comes from a dysfunctional family, which might affect his ability to be pastoral or could result in depression, anxiety, marital problems, etc.

This process fascinates me – keep plugging along, though – the diaconate is a wonderful vocation and I am so proud of my husband!

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Christine June 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Paula, we both had the same set of questions – electronic & written. I really didn’t mind the electronic ones… I know answers can point to a variety of results & I answered them as truthfully as possible. However, in the written questions, the nature of them was obviously for an assessment for psychological therapy.

As for the sexual activity/habits – I can certainly appreciate that because of the nature of this program, it’s important to know if we are in “a healthy place” at this time in our life. If I remember, one of the questions was at what age I started my period?? … another was if my mom had miscarried pregnancies??, what my fondest memory of my dad was??… and so on. Obviously something a shrink needs to know they’re treating someone – certainly not for the bishop to know about a candidate’s wife. I just think they need to come up with a questionnaire that is more appropriate.

I too am very proud of my husband and will support him throughout this process – no matter what the questions are!

Thanks for reading me!

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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher June 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

It does sound like a generic psych evaluation questionnaire, not one for people discerning a vocation. It would be nice if they used the same questionnaire that they use for candidates for the priesthood….

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