The HPCSA describes the role of psychometrics in South Africa under the Health Professions Act (Act No. 56 of 1974). Psychometrists are professionally trained individuals that work within the field of psychological assessments and provide a range of services related to the needs of their clients.
Psychological assessments are defined as process-orientated activities that aim to gather information about a client or group of clients and can be utilised by psychometrists in a variety of settings that include career counselling, selection processes, personal development, and self-understanding. Psychological assessments provide the practitioner with a plethora of information about the client or participant, which includes raw scores and interpretations of what these scores mean for the client’s functioning and developmental areas. The HPCSA provides psychometrists with specific guidelines of tests that they are allowed to administer. These guidelines stipulate that psychometrists may use psychological assessments that are classified and measure psychological constructs that include aspects such as personality, aptitude, interests, values, and intelligence. Psychometrists are not allowed to use any psychological assessments that are projective, neuropsychological, or that diagnose pathology.
Psychological assessments are designed to measure specific constructs that could present differently in various cultural settings, and psychometrists should be aware of the policies, legislature and good practice benchmarks that govern the use of psychological assessments. It is promulgated that only tests registered as psychological assessments (under the Health Professions Act No. 56 of 1974) and proven valid and reliable within the South African context (Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998 and the Employment Equity Act Amendment of Section 8) are allowed to be used. Furthermore the International Testing Commission and the European Federation for Psychological Assessments are seen as international benchmarks that provide practitioners, test developers, or researchers with guidelines on the use of psychological assessments.
As part of the scope of practice for psychometrists, they are allowed to design and implement research that contributes to the development of psychological assessment instruments. Access to psychological assessments within the context of their scope of practice allows psychometrists the opportunity to actively work toward the advancement of psychological assessments in South Africa. With the stringent legislative and ethical requirements, it is cardinal for more psychology practitioners to get involved in the process of ensuring that psychological assessments are in line with what is stipulated by law and the relevant governing bodies. There are limited specialists with the necessary skills to be involved in the process, especially given the current limits in transferring this knowledge to students and interns. Coupled with higher demand for appropriate psychological assessments, this highlights the dire need for more psychology practitioners to place their focus in this arena.
This information was written and provided by Cobi Hayes and Lauren Davies. To find out more on psychometrists, please follow this link.