1st Edition

Writing to Clients and Referring Professionals about Psychological Assessment Results A Handbook of Style and Grammar

By J. B. Allyn Copyright 2012
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is the first on the craft of effective writing structured expressly for the psychologist-assessor. Author J. B. Allyn, a professional writer who specializes in psychology, combines reference book with tutorial. She blends information on the qualities that create a writer’s unique presence on the page with illustrations of correct English grammar. All of the questions, answers, and illustrations evolved from the concerns of psychologist-assessors, as did the examples, which are grounded in their writing and communication needs. The result creates a guide for report writing that can be used by either practicing professionals or graduate psychology students.
    The book divides into three sections: The first and third sections discuss various aspects of effective communication, while the second is a handbook of common grammar problems. Helpful elements guide the reader through the text, including frequent bullet lists, tables and graphs, and grammar and style examples that are framed around assessment reports. It is also written in a conversational tone, which creates the same style it proposes for effectively written reports, and is a key tool for clear and appropriate communication. Readers will refer back to this book, both for quick tips on style and grammar, which are appropriate for any mental health practitioner, and for more detailed advice on writing and communication in assessment reports.

    Introduction: begins with the questions that brought about this book, identifies the current market for writing manuals, and lays out the goals of the book. It also explains how the author, a non-assessor writer, can give advice on effective writing to assessors.

    Part I: Attitude, Tone, Style, and Voice: Building Blocks of the Assessment Report

    Chapter 1: Attitude: The Writer’s View: discusses how even factual material can convey the assessor writer’s view of the subject of a report and how it can demonstrate his or her stance toward the intended audience.

    Chapter 2: Tone: Words and More: explores how tone in music, painting, and speaking parallel its emergence in writing. The chapter will make a case for applying Stephen Finn’s "one, two, three" paradigm for sharing assessment results to third party reports.

    Chapter 3: Style: Content plus Structure: discusses sentences in terms of clarity, specificity, accuracy, and compassion/respect for the reader. It will clarify questions concerning jargon, clutter, content, and punctuation.

    Chapter 4: Voice: What is it and How do I Find it?: discusses the differences in active and passive voice, the meaning of voice as applied to first, second, or third person narrative, and a discussion of the way that attitude, tone, and style culminate into stylistic voice.

    Part II: Grammar and Editing: Mortar to Fortify the Building Blocks

    Chapter 5: Big Picture, Small Details: Format, Write, Edit, and Proof: sets the context for writing a well-realized assessment report that has a beginning, middle, and end. It will discuss structural logic and flow of content, as well as audience and building outlines.

    Chapter 6: Content that Communicates: Sentences and Paragraphs: explores how to craft sentences that clearly express ideas in the assessment report and how to grow them into paragraphs.

    Chapter 7: Reaching Agreement: Subject-verb, Pronoun, and Gender: discusses challenges with subject-verb agreement, compound subjects, and reconciling pronouns with their antecedents. It also explores tense and avoiding sexism when using pronouns.

    Chapter 8: Modifying the Main Idea: Adjectives and Adverbs: gives a short discussion of adjectives and adverbs, what they modify, and how the assessor writer can place them accurately in the sentences of assessment reports.

    Chapter 9: Precision: Right Word, Right Spelling: discusses the importance of correct spelling and illustrates the way in which words can shift spelling over time. Also included will be a discussion on abbreviations, acronyms, and capital letters. This will be another short chapter.

    Chapter 10: Guiding the Reader: Punctuate for Clarity: This will be the longest of the grammar chapters and will discuss hyphens, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, and quotation marks. Commas will get special attention!

    Part III: Beyond the Report: Extending Clear and Effective Communication

    Chapter 11: Writing Therapeutic Letters and Stories: expands and refine the process of report writing into letters or stories, which can be used as therapeutic interventions. Allyn will discuss the differences between formal reports and therapeutic letters.

    Chapter 12: Communicating Verbally: explores basic tenets of clear yet sensitive verbal communication. The chapter will review and reinforce certain basics of effective personal interaction and place it in the assessment context.

    Glossary: Grammar and style terms used in the text

    Bibliography: All sources, including any assessment measures referred to in examples

    Additional References: Any resources useful to the assessor writer but not referenced in the bibliography


    J. B. Allyn specializes in creative and technical writing and editing in the field of psychology. She is affiliated with the Center for Collaborative Psychology, Psychiatry, and Medicine in the Bay Area of Northern California, USA

    "This book is a great desk reference for the emerging assessor-writer. It serves to build on existing skills in a manner that fosters clear and concise communication to other professionals and clients. As a clinician, it is a great reference to keep close by to always remind myself how to communicate effectively. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to teach report writing at any professional level." – Michelle Casarella Espinoza, Jennifer Kellogg, Matthew R. Baity, Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology

    “Finally! A definitive guide for assessment psychologists and graduate students on how to write professionally and communicate effectively and therapeutically – through written and spoken word.  This book will be on my assessment course syllabus and on my shelf!” - Deborah J. Tharinger, University of Texas at Austin, USA

    “If you write, you will love this book. Allyn brings back to life all those writing rules and wisdom that rang faintly in the back of my head. Beyond that it clarifies the cutting edge of psychological report writing, including children’s stories! It will be required reading for all my students!” - Hale Martin, University of Denver, Colorado, USA