The criteria that are appropriate to the psychological fitness review are those that indicate that the applicant has the basic potential to develop the competencies necessary to attain a position of readiness for beginning a practice of ministry. The expectation is that he or she will go on to achieve higher degrees of effectiveness throughout his or her ministry career.
The CAS psychological fitness review is focused on measuring and reporting on the criteria of psychological fitness. It consists of a battery of tests to be completed by the applicant, a written report and follow-up clinical interview with the applicant.
The assessment process begins with a letter of authorization from the applicant’s judicatory to CAS. From the time the letter arrives at CAS until the final report is received at the judicatory, the fitness review process generally takes four to six weeks.
Upon receipt of the letter of authorization, CAS makes a packet of information available to the applicant. The packet may be sent by mail. Or the applicant can access and download the forms online, here at the CAS website. The packet contains the following materials:
- a biographical information form
- an initial release of information form
- a request for a list of references with names and addresses
– the applicant’s pastor
– a fellow congregant
– a fellow student
– any other reference of the applicant’s choosing
- a request form for the name and address of the professional whom the applicant has selected to receive the test packet and monitor the testing
The applicant, who has also received a copy of the authorization letter from his or her judicatory, prints out the forms that he or she has downloaded from the CAS website, completes them and returns them to CAS by mail or by fax, as indicated on the forms. Or, if the applicant prefers not to download and print out the forms, he or she can elect to receive the forms by mail, complete and return them to CAS by mail or fax.
Once the initial forms have been returned, CAS provides the applicant’s monitor with a packet of tests, primarily personality and vocational inventories. The applicant is provided with a letter advising him or her to contact the monitor to set up an appointment to complete the test battery, which generally takes four to six hours to complete.
Once the applicant has completed the tests, the monitor returns them to CAS. The data from the inventories is taken through a twenty-two-step process of scoring and interpretation. A five- to seven page report is generated based on test results, biographical information, test materials and reference information.
This report and supporting data are forwarded to a CAS clinical interviewer, located in close geographic proximity to the applicant. At the same time, CAS notifies the applicant that the report has been sent to a local interviewer. The name, address and phone number of the interviewer are provided as well so the applicant can set up an appointment with the clinical interviewer to review the report face to face.
The role of the clinical interviewer is to debrief the experience with the applicant, interpret the report and make sure the applicant understands it. In addition, if a concern or issue arises in the interview that needs to be included in the report, the clinical interviewer adds that information. The clinical interviewer also indicates whether, in his or her professional opinion, the report is a good fit, a moderate fit or not a fit with the applicant.
If an applicant believes that the report should not go forward, the clinical interviewer indicates that he or she has the right to a second opinion. Alternatively, the applicant might decide to withdraw from the process of seeking ordination.
When the clinical interview has been completed and the applicant agrees that the report is ready to go forward, the clinical interviewer submits the validated report to the judicatory official named to receive it, as indicated in the original letter of authorization. Selection decision-makers may then use the report in their deliberations and decisions concerning the applicant’s psychological fitness for ministry.
If the personnel committee or other judicatory selection decision-makers have questions or need clarification, they are encouraged to contact the clinical interviewer by phone or email for further consultation.
The psychological fitness review process concludes as the applicant meets with his or her judicatory selection committee to discuss the report and next steps.