The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) recently published Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards, introducing a comprehensive framework for the assessment and identification of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD). These standards are a valuable resource for educators, psychologists, policymakers, and anyone interested in and involved with enhancing the quality of education and support for individuals with specific learning disabilities. 

The primary goal of this new framework is to encourage a transition from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more individualized and research-informed evaluation process that promotes better understanding, increased collaboration, and tailored interventions for students with SLD. 

These new principles and standards expand upon the existing mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to evaluating and supporting students with SLDs. 

These guidelines emphasize collaborative evaluation teams involving professionals from various fields, including psychology, education, and medicine. They extend beyond the previous focus on identification and delve into personalized interventions that cater to each student's unique academic, linguistic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Additionally, these updated principles highlight the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity that have not been explicitly addressed in prior IDEA mandates.

The SLD landscape 

LDA research sheds light on the educational landscape for students with specific learning disabilities, revealing that they constitute 32% of the student disability population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). The research also reveals the persistent challenge of low student achievement; specifically, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data indicates a substantial disparity between students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities. According to 2022 NAEP data: 

  • 70% of fourth graders with disabilities scored below basic levels in reading, compared to 32% of their peers without disabilities. 
  • There is an average gap of 38.5% between students with disabilities and students without disabilities who scored below basic in fourth- and eighth-grade reading. 
  • There is a 36% difference in the number of students with disabilities scoring below basic levels in fourth- and eighth-grade math compared to students without disabilities.
  • 64% of eighth graders with disabilities scored below basic compared to 25% of their peers without disabilities. 
  • 72% of eighth graders with disabilities scored below basic in math, whereas only 33% of their peers without disabilities did the same. 
  • 53% of fourth graders with disabilities scored below basic in math compared to 20% of their peers without disabilities. 

Additionally, this research underscores significant inequity for students with SLD, especially those from Black/African American, Latinx, or Indigenous backgrounds. These students are disproportionately marginalized in the areas of identification, intervention, and instructional processes compared to White students. 

Given this data, the team from LDA determined it was necessary to develop new principles and standards that not only identify the cause of learning differences but potential interventions.

The seven principles of SLD evaluation 

LDA created the new standards using seven foundational principles to create a common set of values among stakeholders with respect to SLD evaluation. These principles are: 

  • Interdisciplinary: Evaluations should be a collaborative process informed by multiple disciplines that have relevance to SLD. 
  • Research-informed: SLD evaluation should be informed by the most up-to-date research, using valid and credible methods. 
  • Consequentially valid: The result of SLD evaluations should be positive outcomes, whether an SLD diagnosis is made or not. The evaluation should result in greater clarity surrounding a child’s learning challenges and how best to support them. 
  • Dynamic and iterative: The evaluation, intervention, and follow up should be an iterative process. It is fluid, ongoing, and continual. 
  • Whole-child focused: Evaluations should result in a whole-person view, meaning that the information should be used in a comprehensive way that includes not just the cognitive perspective. 
  • Strengths-based: Equal attention should be paid to an individual’s academic and personal strengths as to their difficulties. 
  • Universally benevolent: All individuals should be treated equally regardless of circumstance, culture, limitations, differences, or difficulties. The process must be used to benefit students no matter what the outcome.

Eight standards for SLD evaluation 

Using these principles, the LDA team established the following standards for SLD evaluation

  1. Interdisciplinary collaboration: The standard emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration among educators, psychologists, parents, and other professionals in conducting holistic SLD assessments. By involving various stakeholders such as psychologists, educators, speech pathologists, counselors, parents, and students themselves, this advocates for an interdisciplinary process. This approach ensures a holistic understanding of student's strengths and needs, promoting a more comprehensive assessment and intervention strategy. 
  2. A continuum of evaluation: SLD evaluation should be ongoing and iterative. Using assessment data, implementing targeted interventions, and employing progress monitoring techniques should create an atmosphere where diagnosis and interventions are being continually refined in order to be bidirectional and iterative. 
  3. Research-supported practice: This standard emphasizes the importance of content-specific research and the use of high-quality assessment tools. 
  4. Culturally informed: Evaluators should gather information on the student’s home language, their level of proficiency in the language of instruction, and make informed decisions on using assessments in the language the individual is most proficient in. 
  5. Embraces strengths: Evaluations should be holistic, taking into account the multiple domains and focusing on character strengths and motivations in addition to academics.
  6. Supported through comprehensive professional development: Professionals involved in evaluation should be up-to-date on the latest research and best practices. 
  7. Holistic understanding regardless of identification criteria: The goal of evaluation should be to understand a holistic view of the individual as a learner. Recommendations should be specific to the learner’s cognitive, social–emotional, and executive function strengths. 
  8. Leads to improved outcomes: The results of the evaluation should always be to create improved educational outcomes with actionable steps to improve academic and social–emotional functioning.

About this research 

The researchers involved in creating the principles and standards pursued a comprehensive strategy that interwove historical context, global viewpoints, and scholarly research. Their approach involved dissecting the progression of terms and definitions connected to SLD, delving into historical shifts in perspectives, and emphasizing the pivotal role of cognitive assessments in SLD evaluations. 

By integrating these insights, the LDA constructed a holistic model for the SLD evaluation process. This model encompasses guiding principles, assessment components, and avenues for future enhancements—the methodology aimed to establish a dynamic framework accommodating the evolving landscape of SLD evaluation practices and insights. 

LDA’s research highlights pivotal aspects of the evolution in identifying SLDs. These findings illuminate the shift toward a more inclusive, adaptable, and personalized approach to assessing and addressing learning challenges. This includes transforming SLD terminology globally in response to the growing importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and adopting innovative response-to-intervention (RTI) methods.

Summary of research findings 

The Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards is a comprehensive guide aligned with well-established research and practices in SLD evaluation. 

This research underscores the critical importance of incorporating qualitative and quantitative research methodologies while accounting for individuals' cultural and linguistic contexts. The outcomes of this research have the potential to significantly enhance the understanding and refinement of SLD evaluations, ultimately leading to more equitable and efficient interventions and support mechanisms for those grappling with specific learning disabilities. 

The outlined principles and standards offer evaluators a structured framework for conducting thorough and valid assessments of individuals with suspected SLD. An integral aspect of this approach involves employing diverse assessment methods from various data sources. 

Notably, the research advocates utilizing multiple assessment approaches, encompassing standardized tests, observations, interviews, and questionnaires. As a result of this multifaceted methodology, an individual's strengths, weaknesses, and distinct learning requirements can be comprehensively identified. 

Further elevating the significance of this work is its emphasis on the need to incorporate an individual's cultural and linguistic background during SLD evaluations. This inclusion fosters culturally responsive assessment practices that consider the influence of one's cultural heritage and linguistic proficiency on one's learning and academic accomplishments. 

The implications of these research findings extend to practitioners, policymakers, and researchers entrenched in the domain of SLD evaluation. This study provides important guidance to improve evaluations for people with learning disabilities, ensuring a fair and effective assessment process.



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McHale-Small, M., Tridas, E., S., Cárdenas-Hagan, E., Allsopp, D.H., van Ingen Lauer, S., Scott, K.,& Elbeheri, G. (2023). Specific Learning Disabilities Principles and Standards. Learning Disabilities Association of America. 

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 2023 National Report Card.


The changing landscape of workplaces has drawn heightened attention to the needs and expectations of employees nationwide regarding the issues of work–life balance and mental health support. 

The recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) sheds light on the prevalence of toxic workplaces and their detrimental impact on mental health. Of the data coming out of this survey, most startling was the revelation that 19% of workers reported their workplace as somewhat or very toxic. Even more alarming, those in such environments are three times more likely to suffer mental health harm at work than those individuals who are in nontoxic settings. 

This blog discusses the importance of these findings, what employers can do in light of this data, and the role mental health providers can play in supporting individuals facing toxic work situations.

Understanding the impact of a toxic work environment 

The APA survey brought to light the destructive toll a workplace can have on an individual’s mental well-being. 

According to the survey, more than one in five workers revealed they've suffered mental health harm at work. Even worse, reported cases of harassment have jumped from 14% in 2022 to 22% in 2023. More than two-thirds of employees report experiencing workplace stress in the last month, with 57% reporting negative impacts that are associated with burnout. 

Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • Discrimination is a serious problem, with 22% of respondents saying they witnessed discrimination in their current workplace and 15% saying they have experienced it themselves. 
  • Employees are still concerned about the impact of disclosing a mental health condition to their employer, with 43% responding that they worry about the impact it might have on them in the workplace. And 55% of employees believe that their employer thinks their workplace is mentally healthier than it actually is. 
  • Different job types face different kinds of challenges. Employees working in customer or client-facing roles may deal with verbal abuse whereas 10% of manual laborers reported being subjected to physical violence.

No matter the field, it is clear that employers need customized strategies to combat toxicity in various work environments.

Proactive steps for employers 

To foster a supportive and mentally healthy work environment, employers can take several proactive measures to combat toxicity and promote mental health: 

  • Promote psychological wellbeing. Organizations must prioritize mental wellbeing as part of company culture and offer benefits that support that. Keep your team informed about available mental health resources and openly promote a healthy lifestyle. Among employees who reported being unsatisfied with the mental health support provided by their employer, 57% intend to look for a new job within the next year. 
  • Encourage time off. It's crucial to create a culture that supports breaks and time off. By giving employees a chance to recharge, you can prevent them from burnout and keep the team thriving. Only 40% of respondents report that their time off is respected
  • Foster a positive work culture. Create a positive environment that embraces respect, empathy, diversity, and open communication. Nurture a culture where everyone feels valued and appreciated. Provide objective and subjective resources—both tangible benefits and cultural support. 
  • Avoid micromanaging. More than 40% of workers report feeling micromanaged during their workday. Of those who feel micromanaged, they report increased levels of workplace stress. 
  • Combat discrimination and harassment. Prioritize strict antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies. Training for all staff increases awareness and sensitivity. Make it clear there is zero tolerance for discrimination and set up confidential channels for reporting incidents so anyone who is experiencing this can report it. 
  • Offer work–life harmony. Promote work–life balance by offering flexibility where possible and giving employees a sense of autonomy over their work. Respondents who said they were satisfied with their level of control over how, when, and where they do their work were much more likely to report that their overall mental health level is good or excellent (79%) compared with those who reported being unsatisfied with their level of control (44%). 
  • Establish connection and community. Fostering a sense of belonging among employees is crucial. Employers can organize team-building activities, create employee resource groups, and host social events to strengthen bonds and create a supportive network within the workplace. 
  • Provide opportunities for growth. Offering career development programs, training, and mentorship opportunities is vital. Employees who see growth prospects within the organization are more likely to stay engaged and satisfied, reducing turnover and promoting overall wellbeing.


The role of mental health providers 


For mental health providers, it's essential to address the challenges faced by individuals who are working in toxic environments. Some notable numbers from the survey: individuals who reported a toxic workplace were more than twice as likely to report that their overall mental health was fair or poor than those who did not report a toxic workplace (58% versus 21%). Of those who reported working in a toxic environment, 76% also conveyed that their work environment has a negative impact on their mental health. 

Here are some strategies you can use with individuals who are experiencing workplace stress that impacts their mental health: 

  • Identify workplace-related stressors. Mental health providers should be vigilant in recognizing signs of workplace-induced stress, anxiety, and depression during therapy sessions. Understanding the work environment helps tailor interventions effectively to address specific challenges. For example, employees working for nonprofit and government organizations were more likely to report a toxic workplace than those in private industry, whereas those in upper management were less likely to report a toxic workplace than individual contributors or front-line workers. 
  • Validate and empathize. Clinicians should validate and empathize with individuals experiencing toxic workplaces, helping them recognize that their experiences are real and valid. 
  • Provide coping strategies. Equipping individuals with coping mechanisms to manage workplace stress and navigate difficult situations is crucial. Techniques such as mindfulness, boundary setting, and self-care can significantly improve wellbeing. 
  • Address trauma. Mental health providers play a vital role in supporting those affected by workplace violence or harassment, aiding in trauma processing and resilience building. Providing a safe space for expression and healing is paramount. 
  • Advocate for self-care. Promote the importance of self-care, whether that means encouraging individuals to find an outlet through exercise, hobbies, or spending quality time with loved ones to offset workplace stress. 
  • Encourage connection. Although most workers are satisfied with their workplace relationships (89%), more than a quarter of employees report feelings of loneliness or isolation. Nearly 94% of workers say it is important that their workplace be a place where they feel they belong. 
  • Explore career alternatives. Dealing with a toxic workplace can be tough. If it's getting to be too much, mental health providers can guide individuals to explore new career options or even help them consider changing career paths. 
  • Collaborate with employers. Providers can consult with employers to develop customized mental health support programs. This collaboration ensures the organization addresses the specific needs of its workforce, creating a more targeted and effective approach.


What now? 


The results of the APA survey underscore how widespread the problem of workplace stress has become and emphasize what a toll a toxic workplace takes on mental health. Although workplaces tend to be one of the greatest areas of stress, they can also drive change by emphasizing the importance of self-care and wellbeing. Those involved in the mental health field can provide support to individuals who are experiencing workplace stress but also need to be cognizant of their own workplaces, as well. It's time to shape healthier work environments that empower everyone to thrive. 

Need help hiring and developing your team? Let InVista help! 


Further resources 

American Psychological Association. (May 2023). 2023 Work in America Survey.

U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being. (2022).

PARiConnect for research.jpg

PARiConnect, our online assessment platform, can help you expand your reach when doing research! 

Expand your geographic reach 

By using PARiConnect, our digital assessment platform, you can email HIPAA compliant links directly to research participants. This enables you to complete research assessments online, expanding your geographic reach to areas you may not be able to use otherwise. This also allows you easier access to observer and collateral research data without requiring additional individuals to make the trip to your data collection site. 

Reduce unused assessment costs 

If you email an assessment link to a participant who decides not to complete it, PARiConnect allows you to easily revoke the link and reuse that assessment with another participant. You won’t have to pay for an unused assessment like you might with a paper form, saving you money typically lost on unused assessments. 

Improve data integrity 

When participants enter their own data, it reduces the time needed for data entry and reduces the possibility of data entry errors. PARiConnect offers settings to prevent skipping questions, so you can reduce the risk of missing data. Furthermore, you can review completion time to be sure your participants put forth appropriate effort. This can reduce the amount of time and energy needed to enter and check data, freeing up your financial and physical resources for other tasks. 

Integrate efficiently with your work 

The PARiConnect system allows you to download item-level assessment data to a CSV excel spreadsheet that is formatted to integrate with statistics software such as SPSS for ease of data processing and analyzation. 

Let PARiConnect help you increase your geographic reach, expand your subject numbers, reduce attrition, lower assessment and travel costs, and decrease the burden of data collection. 

Learn more about PARiConnect today! 


Need assistance selecting assessments for your research? Learn more about all the ways PAR can help! Check out this video on using PAR assessments in research settings. 

Learn more about PAR’s training and research discounts!


This week’s blog was contributed by Erika Thompson, PAR’s managing production editor. It is the third part in a series on writing. Catch up on parts one and two. 

As a mental health practitioner, you are required to write throughout your career. One way you can streamline your writing is by using a style guide. At PAR, the house style we use for all our publications is based on American Psychological Association (APA) Style. Via the PAR Blog, we’re providing some useful information about facets of APA Style that will help you tackle research, write better reports, and communicate more effectively with colleagues. 

This week, we’re covering some questions our editors frequently get asked about APA Style. 

I can never remember the rule about numbers! When should they be numerals and when are we supposed to use words? 

The general rule is to use numerals for numbers 10 and above and words for numbers zero through nine. However, there are exceptions. Ages, dates, and time should be expressed in numerals, even if they’re below 10: 3-year period, ages 18–25 years, 3:45 a.m. The same goes for numbers representing mathematical or statistical information: 5%, 0.45 of the sample, the 9th percentile. Any number that starts a sentence should be expressed in words, even if it’s 10 or above: “Seventy-six students took the test.” 

A hyphen and a dash are the same thing, right? 

Nope! The hyphen and the two dashes (en-dash and em-dash) look different from one another and have different uses. 

A hyphen is used to divide or link words and letters to form another word. Writers are sometimes confused about whether to use a hyphen to link prefixes and suffixes to root words—for example, “nonsignificant” versus “non-significant.” In general, APA style dictates that most prefixes and suffixes do not require hyphens, so “nonsignificant” is standard. Hyphens are also used to indicate negative values (with a space before it but not after it; e.g., -4). 

En-dashes are longer than hyphens. They’re used in text and tables to separate ranges of values, including those for age ranges and page numbers (including in reference lists; e.g., “See pages 3–4.”). En-dashes are also used instead of hyphens between words of equal weight in a compound adjective (e.g., “test–retest”). 

Em-dashes are the longest dashes. They’re used to set off an element added to extend or to digress from the main clause (e.g., “I spoke to him at length—at least 45 minutes—about this topic.”). They do not have to be used in pairs (e.g., “It was a chilly day—downright freezing, really.”). 

Here’s a handy hint: You can type an en-dash on a PC by holding down the Alt button and then hitting the numbers 0, 1, 5, and 0 in sequence, and you can type an em-dash by holding down the Alt button and then hitting the numbers 0, 1, 5, and 1 in sequence. (Wondering about the minus sign? It’s actually a special character in Word—it’s not the same as an en-dash, a hyphen, or any other symbol.) 

What’s the best way to report “partial ages”? 

I’ve seen it done a few different ways. In the testing field, it’s standard to present partial ages. Though some publications use commas, at PAR we find them to be confusing. So, we use colons instead—for example, “11:6” means 11 years, 6 months. When presenting a range of partial ages, it’s best to use “to” between them, to avoid any confusion (e.g., “11:6 to 11:11”). 

Can someone explain what a dangling modifier is? I know I learned this in high school… 

Modifiers seem complicated, but they’re actually simple. Modifiers are adjectives or adverbs (in the form of words, phrases, or clauses) that describe or limit nouns and verbs in the sentence. They must be placed directly before or after the word they are modifying—if not, the result is a misplaced modifier. For example, in “Riley only told Jade and Colin about the surprise,” the placement of “only” indicates that the only activity Riley did was tell Jade and Colin about the surprise, but the intention is to express that Jade and Colin were the only people Riley told. The sentence should be recast as: “Riley told only Jade and Colin about the surprise.” 

If the word the modifier is intended to modify doesn’t appear in the sentence at all, the result is a dangling modifier. For example, in “Using a saw, the wood can be cut easily,” the modifier “using a saw” is connected to the subject, “the wood.” However, readers know that wood doesn’t use a saw—people do. The sentence should be recast to include a logical subject: “Using a saw, I can cut the wood easily.” 

What’s the most common error you come across? 

Some of the most common errors we see in writing can be categorized as parallelism errors. “Parallelism—the matching of sentence parts for logical balance, especially by using grammatically coordinate structures—helps satisfy every reader’s innate craving for order and rhythm” (Garner, 2022, p. 801). This comes up frequently in lists—both bulleted and in sentences. 

In a bulleted list, begin each entry with the same part of speech and, as much as possible, retain a similar sentence/phrasing structure. For example, use a verb to begin each entry:

Steps to improve morale 

  • Ask for reactions and questions. 
  • Share your insights. 
  • Create a plan to follow up.

In sentences with lists, each entry should be the same part of speech (e.g., “The test is reliable, comprehensive, and easy to administer” [all adjectives]). One very common mistake is the improper insertion of a sole second verb in a listing sentence: “The test is reliable, comprehensive, and takes only 30 minutes to administer.” The verb must apply to all entries, or each entry should have its own verb. There are many ways to fix this… 

  • The test is reliable and comprehensive and takes only 30 minutes to administer. 
  • The test is reliable, is comprehensive, and takes only 30 minutes to administer. 
  • The test is reliable and comprehensive; it takes only 30 minutes to administer. 
  • The test is reliable, comprehensive, and short, taking only 30 minutes to administer. 


Do you have a style or grammar question you’d like us to answer? Email me anytime at

Interested in partnering with PAR for research or publishing? Visit our Partner with PAR page to learn more. 



American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). 

Garner, B. A. (2022). Garner’s modern English usage (5th ed.). Oxford.



This week’s blog was contributed by Erika Thompson, PAR’s managing production editor. It is the first in an ongoing series on writing. 


As a mental health practitioner, you are required to write throughout your career. One way you can streamline your writing is by using a style guide. At PAR, the house style we use for all our publications is based on American Psychological Association (APA) Style. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide some useful information about facets of APA Style that will help you tackle research, write better reports, and communicate more effectively with colleagues.  

This week, we’re covering how to write as respectfully and inclusively as possible. According to APA (2020):  

It is unacceptable to use constructions that might imply prejudicial beliefs or perpetuate biased assumptions against persons on the basis of age, disability, gender, participation in research, racial or ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or some combination of these or other personal factors (e.g., marital status, immigration status, religion). (p. 131)  

To prevent biased writing, we must focus on two things: specificity and sensitivity.  

When we write with specificity, we eliminate unconscious attitudes that might sneak into overly general language. Being as precise as possible also allows your research or other scholarly work to reflect the most accurate and helpful information for readers. For example, use exact age ranges versus broad categories of ages, use specific names for racial and ethnic groups versus broad categories (e.g., “Chinese American” vs. “Asian American”), and use specific terms for gender identity and sexual orientation (e.g., “cisgender women,” “bisexual people”). Provide definitions of research groups early, and then stick to the same label throughout the manual: “Participants scoring between X and X on the ANX scale made up the low anxiety group.” “The low anxiety group exhibited no change from test to retest.” 

Writing with sensitivity means writing while acknowledging people’s preferences and their humanity. For example, overgeneralizing by using adjectives as nouns to label groups—for example, “the poor” or “schizophrenics”—eliminates the individuality of the people in those groups. Instead, use adjectival forms or nouns with descriptive phrases, like “poor people” or “individuals with schizophrenia.”  

There are many other areas that require writing with sensitivity: 

  • Gender and sex. Gender is a social construct and a social identity. Sex refers to biological sex assignment, or to sexual behavior. Gender identity (a person’s psychological sense of their gender) is distinct from sexual orientation (who a person is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to). APA strongly encourages us “to explicitly designate information about the gender identities of the participants making up our sample (e.g., whether they are transgender, cisgender, or other gender identities) rather than assuming gender identities” (p. 138). Over the past several years, we’ve also adopted use of the singular “they”—both to identify people who prefer that pronoun and to replace the cumbersome “he or she” construction throughout our writing. 
  • Age. For people of any age, “person” and “individual” are appropriate terms. Use “men,” women,” “transgender women,” “individual,” etc. for adults ages 18 years and older; use “child,” “boys,” “girls,” “infant,” etc. for individuals ages 12 years and younger; and use “adolescent,” “male adolescent,” “youth,” etc. for individuals ages 13 to 17 years. For older adults, preferred terms include “older adults,” “older people,” and “older persons”—not “seniors,” “elderly,” or “the aged.” Language should emphasize that aging is a normal part of life versus an obstacle to be overcome. 
  • Disabilities. There are two ways to write respectfully about people with disabilities. In person-first language, the person is emphasized, not the disability: “person with autism,” “individuals with learning disabilities.” In identity-first language, the disability is the focus, allowing the individual to claim ownership and identity over it: “autistic person,” “learning disabled individuals.” Both are acceptable choices, and the approaches can be mixed. If you know the preference of a particular group, use it! 
  • Race and ethnicity. Race and ethnicity are different, and it’s important to clearly delineate the two when writing about people. “Race refers to physical differences that groups and cultures consider socially significant….Ethnicity refers to shared cultural characteristics such as language, ancestry, practices, and beliefs” (APA, 2020, p. 142). Avoid the word “minority” if possible—better options are “people of color” and “underrepresented groups,” or be specific and use a qualifier: “racial minority.” Take care with capitalization and punctuation. “Black,” “White,” “Indigenous,” and “Aboriginal” should be capitalized, and we don’t use hyphens in racial or ethnic modifiers—that is, we write “African American people,” not “African-American people.”  


These are just a few tips and examples of how to improve your writing by focusing on specificity and sensitivity. For more information, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Interested in partnering with PAR for research or publishing? Visit our Partner with PAR page to learn more. 




American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).   

Mental health awareness month.png

Each May, Mental Health Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Throughout the year, but especially in May, mental health providers play a crucial role in promoting awareness and taking action to improve the mental health of our communities.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 as Mental Health Week. It was expanded to a month-long observance in 1980. The goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness about mental health and wellness, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, and promote greater access to mental health services and resources.

Why is Mental Health Awareness Month important?

In the U.S., more than 1 in 5 adults are living with a mental illness. Yet despite the prevalence of mental illness, stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health are significant barriers to treatment and recovery. Mental health and physical health are equal components to a healthy lifestyle, but many individuals fail to receive the support and care they need.

Mental Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity to break down these barriers and raise awareness about the importance of mental health. By promoting understanding and acceptance, we can encourage individuals to seek help, normalize the conversation around mental health, and improve access to mental health services and resources.

What can mental health professionals do to get involved?

As mental health professionals, we have a critical role to play in promoting mental health awareness and reducing stigma. Here are some ways we can get involved:

Raise awareness: Use your platform and expertise to educate others about mental health and wellness. Share information about Mental Health Awareness Month on social media and within your professional networks. Write blog posts, create infographics, and share resources that promote mental health awareness.

Engage with your community: Connect with local organizations and community groups to promote mental health awareness. Offer to speak at events or host workshops on mental health and wellness. Collaborate with other mental health professionals and organizations to create events and initiatives that promote mental health awareness and reduce stigma.

Advocate for policy change: Mental health professionals can also get involved in advocacy efforts to improve mental health policies and access to care. Contact your elected officials to express your support for mental health legislation and advocate for increased funding for mental health services and research.

Practice self-care: Mental health professionals also need to take care of their own mental health and well-being. Practicing self-care is essential to preventing burnout and maintaining mental health. Take breaks when needed, engage in regular exercise and meditation, and seek support.

No matter how you choose to get involved, Mental Health Awareness Month provides an important opportunity for mental health professionals to promote awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health, advocating for policy change, and providing direct services and support.

adapting assessment when working with people with disabilities.jpg

During our recent PARtalks webinar series on assessing individuals with disabilities, PAR received many questions about where to go for further resources. Here is a short list of additional resources that may be helpful when assessing people with various disabilities.

American Psychological Association (APA)

APA offers a significant number of resources on disability issues. In addition to Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities, APA also offers disability-specific APA resolutions, and a disability mentoring program designed to support individuals with disabilities who are psychologists or who want to be. APA offers resources on accessibility, inclusive language, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

The AUCD is a network of university centers that provide resources and training on disability issues, as well as advancing policy and practice for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities. The AUCD offers a library of materials and resources on disability rights, disability research, and disability policy. is a federal government website run by the Department of Labor that provides information and resources on disability-related issues related to disability rights, employment, education, and health.

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)

The DREDF is a national disability rights law and policy center that provides information and resources on disability issues. They are a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. They offer insight and guidance on special education, healthcare access, and additional public policy and legal issues.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

NASP offers advice and guidance on modifying assessments as well as evaluating the effectiveness of those interventions.

National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ)

The NCDJ is a great resource for mental health professionals. Although the NCDJ is designed to provide resources and training for journalists on disability issues, everyone can learn quite a bit from their Disability Language Style Guide. The style guide offers insight on language. It is offered in both English and Spanish.

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD)

The NJCLD is committed to the education and welfare of individuals with learning disabilities. The NJCLD offers resources and supports for individuals with a variety of learning disabilities. The NJCLD offers insight into assessment and intervention.

PAR resources

In addition to a recent blog on modifications versus accommodations, PAR offers a variety of on-demand videos on a variety of topics on the PAR Training Portal.


During our recent PARtalks webinar series on assessing individuals with disabilities, PAR received some questions about adapting, modifying, and accommodating assessments. It is important to be mindful of a range of psychometric, social, clinical, and disability-related issues. We hope the following will provide helpful guidance when determining if modifications or accommodations are necessary.

Considerations when assessing individuals with disabilities

There are many issues to consider that may complicate the psychological testing of people with disabilities. It is important to attend to issues of bias, reliability, and validity.

Language,  motor, sensory, medical, and cognitive disabilities can impact aspects of an assessment. Additionally, comorbid conditions or secondary disabilities can be a complicating factor.

It is crucial for examiners to consider each individual's disability and how it relates to other functions to develop a strategy that ensures the appropriate construct is being measured. For example, disability-related symptoms such as fatigue and pain can confound psychometric tests and artificially inflate measures of depression. Or a motor-functioning disability that affects fine motor control may create results that mistakenly imply cognitive impairment. Examiners who do not take these issues into consideration risk drawing misleading inferences, making inaccurate conclusions, and offering unsuitable treatment recommendations.

How do you determine an assessment is suitable for a particular individual?

To determine if an instrument is suitable for use with a client with a disability, clinicians must evaluate if the measure(s) being considered are appropriate for use without introducing accessibility challenges. If the construct to be measured will be measured in a way that requires a specific functional ability that is related to the client’s disability, or if the measure’s administration instructions and response options are related to the client’s impairment, for example, another measure may be considered.   

The clinician should consider validity information regarding a measure’s use with people with specific disabilities, just as they would for any other population. Quantitative measures should be supplemented by qualitative and functional assessments. Before testing, it is important to meet with the client to understand disability-specific characteristics related to the constructs of interest. It is the clinician's responsibility to describe the assessment and subsequent results in terms that the client can easily understand.

When is it suitable to alter an assessment?

Any decisions to modify protocols requires thoughtful consideration and justification but may be useful ways to support individuals with disabilities. There are two types of alterations to testing, accommodations and modifications. Accommodations improve access to the test without affecting the construct being measured. Modifications may affect the construct and may influence validity.

  • Accommodations: A testing accommodation is a change in test format, presentation, administration, or response procedures. Accommodations do not alter the construct being measured and scores are comparable with the original test.

  • Modifications: Modifications are testing changes that may alter the intended construct. The purpose of a modification is to improve accessibility while retaining as much of the original construct as possible.

 Examples of accommodations and modifications

Accessibility means the ability to access, interact with, and respond appropriately to test content. It involves designing a measure in a way that reduces barriers to a valid assessment of a given construct. Accommodations and modifications are often made to increase accessibility, but if accessibility is designed into the structure of an instrument, they may not be required.

Determining the necessity of an accommodation depends on how the disability presents as well as the construct or constructs being assessed. Accommodations help clients with varying levels of ability by removing access barriers that might influence the individual’s results. However, accommodations do not alter the construct being measured.

Accommodations may be made to the environment or to the way a task is presented without changing the content of the task. An accommodation for a student with a visual impairment might be  enlarging print materials; an accommodation for a student who is deaf might be providing an ASL interpreter.

Modifications, however, can be changes that are made to the content or expectations of an assignment, task, or assessment. A student with a learning disability might receive a modification that reduces the number of questions on a test or provides untimed access to the materials. Modifications change what the individual is expected to learn or do in order to make it more accessible.

In general, modifications are more significant changes. Modifications alter what is expected of the individual; accommodations are less significant changes that provide support for the individual to access the same content and activities as their peers.

Resources on accommodations and modifications

Learn more about modifying psychological assessments for individuals with disabilities:

American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities: APA has developed these guidelines to help psychologists develop and implement effective, fair, and ethical psychological assessments and interventions.

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD): The NJCLD has developed guidelines for the assessment of individuals with learning disabilities. The NJCLD offers recommendations for modifying psychological assessments.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): NASP offers advice and guidance on modifying assessments as well as evaluating the effectiveness of those interventions.

The PAR Training Portal. Catch up on the PARtalks disability series on the PAR Training Portal. Recorded webinars are available on demand to help you learn more about working with individuals with a variety of disabilities.

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This week’s blog was contributed by Nikel Rogers-Wood, PhD, LP, HSP. Dr. Rogers-Wood is a licensed psychologist and a project director at PAR. She has a PhD in counseling psychology.

“I’ve been feeling really anxious, my heart races, and I can’t concentrate. I already know I have generalized anxiety disorder because I watched a bunch of TikToks and took a quiz online that came back with a diagnosis.” 

Sound familiar? Social media, particularly TikTok, is a place where clients and potential clients sometimes go to find answers to their mental health questions. Though it's encouraging to see more social acceptance and support for mental health challenges, there are so many influencers out there that it can be difficult to know who has professional expertise and what information is accurate. 

Further complicating the situation are online quizzes. Type “Do I have depression?” into Google and get pages of results. Many of these quizzes also show up as ads and links embedded in social media feeds. What differentiates these free social media quizzes from well-researched and empirically validated tests? A great deal. Can the general public tell the difference? Not yet. That’s where PAR can help.

As one of our assessment customers, you already know the value of an accurate evaluation. After all, quality assessment results in accurate diagnosis, which drives effective treatment and positive client outcomes. That’s why it’s so important for clients to seek testing and support from qualified professionals. So how do you help someone who has self-diagnosed find their way to more accurate and helpful information?    

Why validity and reliability matter

The first step is to validate what they’re seeking—answers. Something is happening in their lives that has driven them to find the answer on the internet. However, much like it's hard to find the right street when your GPS is programmed to another part of the country, it’s hard to find answers when you take a quiz that isn’t reliable or valid.

It’s important to educate our communities so they realize that building a good assessment measure goes beyond choosing questions to ask. They need to know that researchers and test publishers devote time and energy into determining whether individual items (and the test as a whole) measure what they are supposed to measure; if there are differences in outcomes based on demographic factors like age, sex, and race/ethnicity; if the results can be trusted to be reliable; and how the results fit in with diagnoses. Although it may be tempting to take a free quiz that pops up on our social media feed, when it comes to our mental health, wouldn’t it be better to find a resource that will give us accurate results?

PAR provides a wide variety of high-quality assessments that have been well built, validated, and thoroughly researched. We also offer our products in performance-based and self-report formats. For individuals who prefer a self-serve style of assessment, the Self-Directed Search asks questions about career interests and preferences and produces a thorough, client-friendly report with results and guidance on next steps. When a deeper dive is necessary, individuals can collaborate with a licensed professional and use an instrument like the PAI for answers.    

The difference between unvalidated quizzes and validated assessment measures is the difference between cookies and a real meal. Can you eat either one when you’re hungry? Sure. However, the cookies only take the edge off hunger and your nourishment can’t be based on cookies alone. At PAR, we offer the five food groups. Snacks aren’t going anywhere, but when you want to get what you really need, come to us.

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This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of one of the most widely used tests ever published—the Rorschach Test. We take this opportunity to look back on the history of this assessment and the person who made it possible.

Who was Hermann Rorschach?

Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who is best known for developing the Rorschach inkblot test. He died in 1922 at the age of 38—before the test gained popularity. This projective test was never intended to be what it is today. In fact, initial research was focused on using this as a test for schizophrenia.

As a child, Rorschach was a fan of a game called Klecksographie. He was so devoted that his childhood nickname was Kleck. The game involved collecting inkblot cards and using those cards to create stories based on your interpretation. 

Rorschach's early training was in psychiatry and psychoanalytic theory, and he became interested in the use of projective techniques. During his training, he noticed that individuals who had schizophrenia made different associations with the Klecksographie cards than those individuals without schizophrenia. He believed that the human mind projects its own subjective interpretations onto ambiguous stimuli, and these projections could reveal important information about an individual's personality and emotional functioning.

Rorschach studied 405 subjects, 117 of whom were not psychiatric patients. He showed each person a card and asked them what it may be. After four years of research, he believed this test could help diagnose and assess mental illness.

His results were published in 1921. The test gained popularity in the years following Rorschach's death, becoming the most popular test in clinical practice in the U.S. following World War II. It remains one of the most widely used and well-known psychological tests to this day.

What is the Rorschach test?

The Rorschach test consists of 10 psychodiagnostic plates, which are presented to the subject one at a time. Though the test was initially designed for adults, normative data is available for adolescents and children. 

After administration, the subjects’ insights and reactions are recorded and analyzed. In addition to scores, interpretation of behaviors during testing, patterns of responses, and themes may be taken into account.

Rorschach established a parallel between a mostly global approach to the blots and the ability to synthesize versus a more detailed approach reflecting a more analytical mind. He also determined that it was important to attend to an individual’s sensitivity to grey and black colors as well as the proportion of objects. Through this work, Rorschach proposed a typology distinguishing three basic modalities of relating to the world: introversiveness, extratensiveness, and ambitancy. These types relate to the way people associate, dissociate, or mix emotions and thoughts.

The validity of the Rorschach Test has been challenged over the years, and much research has been dedicated to both the criticism and support of the measure. As Rorschach died before the test achieved notoriety, much of the work has been done by others, and there is concern that other researchers may have modified or reinterpreted the assessment. The International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods (ISR) encourages users to only original stimulus material to maintain the integrity of the test.

Learn more

The ISR produces the journal Rorschachiana that publishes the theory and clinical applications of the Rorschach and other projective techniques. You can read its latest issue here.

The Rorschach Test Centenary Edition is now available. It includes the original test plates, a newly translated and annotated edition of the original book, and a special issue of the Rorschachiana journal that addresses recent studies on the reliability and validity of the test.