Given the recent pandemic, Dr. Corelli has expanded his practice into tele-assessment, and has been conducting the majority of his evaluations remotely. Adapting to remote administration was an extremely time-intensive process, and he spent countless hours in technical training, as well as specific training in telepsychology, pragmatics of tele-assessment, and ethics for telepsychology.
At present, several treatment programs and many families are opting for remote versus in-person administration due to COVID-19. Tele-assessment allows us to provide this critical service at a time when in-person testing is not possible or advisable. Another advantage of tele-assessment is that it offers greater flexibility in terms of administration times and number of testing sessions available to the student.
One of the downsides of tele-assessment is, of course, that testing was originally designed to be a face-to-face endeavor. Tests were developed and normed in this modality and, until recently, little research has examined the validity and reliability of tele-assessment methods. And though the virtual versus in-person assessment issue seems like a very recent problem, mental health professionals have grappled with this issue for many years, particularly in regards to providing access to much-needed services in rural or otherwise underserved areas. Given the COVID-19 crisis, tele-health is now being used much more extensively and clinicians and researchers are attempting to catch up to this demand.
The good news is that emerging research is supporting the validity of many widely use tests of cognitive, academic, and psychological functioning. Furthermore, testing companies are releasing guidelines and tips for virtual administration of their measures.
One of the things I have done to replicate face-to-face testing has been to use technology to my advantage. For example, my office space is provided very high speed, fiber optic internet access, which assures me of seamless testing from a technical perspective. I use high definition microphones, high definition webcams, and HIPAA compliant video conferencing software to administer the tests. I have found this to be extremely helpful in providing the clearest sound and picture throughout the testing. Ensuring this happens on the child’s end is equally important.
There are several considerations to take into account when determining whether a tele-assessment is appropriate. First, some tests are simply not suited for this type of administration and some are impossible. Some testing companies have advised against administering their tests virtually or require multiple cameras and facilitators for valid administration, which is often not logistically feasible. As always, my goal remains to administer appropriate, valid, and reliable testing. Remote administration should never come at the cost of ethics or integrity. Privacy and test security must be maintained, we must only take on clients that are appropriate for this type of assessment.
I am encouraged that the testing companies and other agencies have been so supportive throughout this process. Furthermore, I abide by and follow the guidance provided by the American Psychological Association with regard to tele-assessment.