The United States Army announced its plans to initiate psychological testing with all active duty, national guard, and reserve soldiers in an effort to identify those with possible mental health issues, as well as to strengthen psychological functioning among our brave warriors. A newly developed 170-item test that appears to have a biopsychosocial approach to assessment will be used to evaluate medical, physical, psychological, spiritual, and family domains. Treatment recommendations are generated based on the test results. The University of Pennsylvania tested 4,000 soldiers in a collaborative pilot program in advance of the formal October 2009 launch date of this program.
The field of psychology has a long and productive history of working with the military. Recall from Psychology 101 courses that our field gained traction and respect during World Wars 1 and 2 when asked to conduct formal tests of soldiers’ abilities. During World War I, the U.S. Army requested assistance from Robert Yakes – then president of the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, these and other wars significantly increased interest in standardized achievement tests and fueled the development and acceptance of a number of different aptitude, personality, and intelligence tests, such as the Stanford-Benet Intelligence Scale, Stanford Achievement Test, Wechsler Intelligence Scale, and Woodworth Personal Data Sheet (personality inventory) (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2008).
The U.S. Army’s latest assessment initiative will undoubtedly provide new opportunities for psychologists that will hopefully again lead to great new developments in psychological assessment and mental health. Most important, of course, is that psychologists will have the chance to help the men and women of the armed services to improve their emotional health and quality of life.
Read the full story at the Christian Science Monitor here.
Kaplan, R., & Saccuzzo, D. (2008). Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues. Belmont: Wadsworth.