The five- to seven-page report that is prepared by CAS provides individualized information that is valuable in understanding the psychological fitness of an applicant for preparation for ordained or lay ministry. It includes a narrative analysis and interpretation of test results. No standardized computer printouts are presented in the final report.
Bottom line, an applicant and his or her judicatory want to know whether he or she meets the psychological fitness criteria for preparation for ordained or lay ministry. The CAS report includes a bottom line recommendation consonant with the following categories (though these specific words would not necessarily be used):
- Highly recommended. The applicant is experiencing robust mental health.
- Recommended. The applicant’s psychological fitness is within normal ranges.
- Recommended with notations. The applicant may benefit from participating in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and/or supervised field education, and/or brief focused therapy to work on personal or pastoral issues enumerated in the report. Short-term brief focused counseling is recommended in approximately one of fifteen such reviews. This type of therapy is needed for persons with unresolved developmental problems, such as authority issues.
- Recommended with conditions. The recommendation is contingent upon the applicant participating in a particular experience, such as CPE or supervised field education, or longer-term psychotherapy of one to two years. If he or she does not successfully complete such a regime, then the applicant is not recommended. A referral for psychotherapy would be likely for an applicant who receives this rating. Generally, long-term psychotherapy (eighteen months to two years) is recommended in approximately one out of twenty to twenty-five cases. This type of therapy is needed for persons who have personality pattern problems.
- Marginal applicant. Selection decision-makers are advised to take serious note of the issues and problems outlined in the report. This rating indicates that the applicant will not likely be able to overcome these deficits, and the phrase “marginal applicant” will frequently be used in the Recommendation to Selection Committee section of the report. If selection decision-makers decide to approve the applicant anyway, they can expect the issues and problems identified in the report to surface at some point, or on a regular basis, in the functioning of the applicant. (Applicants who manifest, for example, sociopathic traits, hysterical traits that may lead to a full blown borderline personality disorder and/or bouts of ambulatory psychosis, such as “out of body experiences” in a fragile personality, would need to have successfully completed a therapeutic experience. Selection decision-makers should be advised that psychotherapies in such situations generally do not work well, if at all, and if they do work, may take five to seven years before the applicant would be found to be acceptable.)
- Not recommended at this time. The reasons for not recommending an applicant at the time of the assessment would be outlined in the report.
- Not recommended at this time and probably not ever. Any applicant receiving this rating would likely be a “confirmed” borderline or sociopathic personality or ambulatory psychotic. He or she might have intractable personality patterns, such as sociopathy, be sexually immature and likely to abuse others. Or he or she may become violent and, in a rage, do things that would cause serious harm to others and/or self.
It is important to note that robust mental health is not the only fitness criterion. The applicant may be in robust mental health and yet not be socialized to the point that he or she can develop and be willing to maintain a strong sense of pastoral identity. A selection committee will need to explore non-psychological fitness criteria, as would be the case with next levels of a judicatory’s review and approval process. Selection committees tend to be competent in assessing the level of socialization of the applicants they interview, though not as adept at gauging psychological fitness. This is the reason for a full formal psychological fitness review by professionals.