The counseling process is a science, it relies on tested and proven strategies and procedures that enables the counselor to make a thorough assessment of the client, make appropriate decisions on the interventions and goals of the client and to help the client take control over his/her problems. One of the key steps in counseling is the use of personality tests, personality tests or inventories are designed to measure the personality traits, characteristics, or factors of the individual (Hood & Johnson, 2006).
There are two kinds of personality tests, the standard, objective personality tests of which examples include the NEO-Personality Inventory-Revised, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. On the other hand, we have projective tests like the Rorschach and the Thematic Apperception Test which are subjective and non-specific tests.
There are different personality tests and most of which have been designed to measure the huge number of personality traits and factors based on the early work of Cattel in which he factor analyzed the words that had been used to describe one’s personality (Hood & Johnson, 2006). This has led to the development of the Sixteen Personality Factor Test wherein responses can be categorized under the 16 factors.
In a few decades, the sixteen factors was found to fall under Five global personality traits, which later became known as the “Big Five”, later on, more and more personality inventories was developed along the Big Five model although most had not been successful, to date the most commonly known Big Five personality test is the NEO-Personality Inventory-Revised.
Criticisms of the Big Five model abounded and most of it came from the fact the Big Five was too simplistic and it did not actually cover all the salient personality traits (Saulsman & Page, 2004) which Catell strongly asserted was more than ten or even fifteen, on the other hand Eysenck of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised developed a test that measured three personality scales extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism. The EPQ-R is a test that was designed for normal functioning individuals hence; there is no emphasis on personality disorders or conditions that would lean to the more clinical.
The test is widely used in school counseling rather than in psychotherapy. Moreover, some personality tests like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator do away with the inventory of personality traits but rather on the responses of individuals to the given items based on how it is perceived and then judged upon. Taken from the personality theory of Carl Jung, the MBTI is a test that identifies the behavioral and personality patterns of the individual based on whether they preferred extraversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuiting, thinking versus feeling and judging versus perceiving.
The MBTI has gained popularity over the years because it does not constrict or limit the personality of the individual as following strictly certain traits and characteristics. Further, the scores in the MBTI are nothing but indicators of the person’s way of behaving and acting and can be perceived as strengths not as weaknesses. MBTI continues to be favored by most companies and the research on the validity and reliability of the test is also well updated (Hood & Johnson, 2006).
Projective tests had become unpopular in the sense that it does not give the counselor an objective measure of the personality of the individual, often it is difficult to administer and score and that it is highly subjective and not many people are trained to work with the tests. On the other hand, projective tests are still used by counselors as part of the counseling strategy, for example, it is much easier to use Draw a House, Tree, and Person with children than having them take a self-report inventory which they may not comprehend at all.