Psychologists Helping People Without Homes

Rogers, E. B., Stanford, M. S., Dolan, S. L., Clark, J., Martindale, S. L., Lake, S. L., Baldridge, R. M., & Sejud, L. R. (2011). Helping people without homes: Simple steps for psychologists seeking to change lives. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 43(2), 86-93.

In response to an APA call for psychologists to work toward ending homelessness, Rogers and colleagues (2012) created a project in which they collaborated with a neighborhood homeless shelter and trained graduate students to provide psychological assessments to individuals without homes. These assessments were used to support applications for benefits. The authors encountered several difficulties and developed strategies to address these challenges. For example, the assessment battery that they used in their university clinic (IQ tests, neurological tests, and personality inventories) was typically administered over a series of visits and often took several weeks to complete. However, homeless individuals had difficulty arranging to attend multiple appointments, resulting in incomplete assessment reports. In response, the authors developed a shortened form of the assessment battery and began administering it at the agency. To address the fact that low literacy levels made completing the inventories difficult, the authors developed an audio version of the measures. Finally, in response to confusion about the purpose of the assessment and concerns about informed consent, the authors trained agency social workers about the process of assessment and had them complete consent forms at the time of referral. Rogers and colleagues estimated that the project save the agency over $22,000 in a single year and helped future practitioners to better understand the psychological impact of homelessness.

Making Connections

Mental Health

Media Supplement

In this TED Talk , photographer and former journalist, Becky Blanton, described the year she was homeless. [7 min 10 sec]