Current practice of psychological assessment of deaf and hard of hearing clients: A focus group study
Psychological assessment plays a large part in the practice of psychology. Over the years, steps have been taken towards ensuring ethical and culturally sensitive psychological assessment for cultural and linguistic minorities as well as individuals with disabilities and other underserved populations. However, assessment of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) individuals continues to be problematic due to a variety of reasons, including limited availability of appropriate measures, lack of appropriate knowledge and training, and vast heterogeneity in characteristics of the deaf and hard of hearing population. This exploratory study conducted two focus groups and one interview with six school and clinical psychologists. Thematic analysis identified numerous themes but the discussion focused on the following themes: reliance on self-developed guidelines, flexibility, and clinical judgment; needing to take on certain roles and responsibilities to be effective; facing many systemic barriers; numerous ethical issues stemming from assessment of DHH clients by untrained psychologists; and the identification of education and dissemination of information as a main proposed solution. The themes reported by participants represented the manner in which they maneuver the complexity of assessment with deaf and hard of hearing clients and were consistent with the literature. Potential underlying factors were explored, such as the utilization of dynamic assessment, the Dunning-Kruger curve, and the experience of psychologists working with underserved populations. Implications for this study include potential directions for continued research on how to improve the assessment process for deaf and hard of hearing clients.