Leo Goldman

Leo Goldman gave critical attention to the use of psychological tests in counseling. As editor of the Personnel and Guidance Journal, he emphasized the importance of educating counselors in the use of psychological tests. He was skeptical of the value of standardized tests and concerned with the potential misuse of test information in the public school system. Following a critical review of the literature in 1972 titled “Tests and Counseling: The Marriage That Failed,” Goldman concluded that a meaningful relationship between testing and counseling practice was in doubt. He questioned whether and how counselors can derive functional utility from testing and measurement, beyond understanding the technical characteristics of the instruments used. Goldman advocated alternative assessment approaches found in qualitative methods, and he also argued for the use of qualitative research methods.

Goldman’s proposals for qualitative assessment and qualitative research became in the next decade a more radical call for counseling psychologists to consider alternative research paradigms. In his 1976 article titled “A Revolution in Counseling Research,” Goldman became one of the first to advocate for a paradigm change in counseling research. Goldman viewed the limitations of standardized testing as part of the limitations of the quantitative research paradigm that has dominated the field of psychology. Measurement-driven research utilizes psychological tests that have demonstrated reliability and claims of validity. Standardization as a scientific norm upheld in the test and measurement industry has been shared by the experimental tradition in psychology. These paradigmatic values and practices constitute the context of test development and test usage, and for Goldman, the basis of his criticism of them.

Goldman also expressed concern about the needs of minority populations and argued that professional practice including assessment approaches must take into account their needs. He viewed the issue of validity in testing as part of the increasing awareness of cultural factors in assessment and counseling interventions. The issue of cultural validity in standardized test use was more than an epistemic issue for Goldman; it has implications for social justice. In his 1990 presidential address to APA Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), titled Participants and Gatekeepers, Goldman called for more inclusiveness in the counseling profession. Consistent with methodological pluralism in research, he argued for practice-oriented methods of assessment and a culture-sensitive professional practice that is inclusive of diverse groups.

The influence of Goldman’s work is seen in recent contributions that reflect the counseling professional’s role in testing, and counselors as consumers of test information. The relevance of test information to counseling and inquiry continues to be important to practitioners and researchers. Issues of validity and cultural bias are intertwined with the social and political uses of testing, issues that were anticipated in Goldman’s critical perspective and the moral vision that he provided in his autobiographical 1998 essay, “Still the Serendipitous Maverick.”


  1. Goldman, L. (1961). Using tests in counseling. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
  2. Goldman, L. (1972). Tests and counseling: The marriage that failed. Measurement and Evaluation in Guidance, 4, 213-220.
  3. Goldman, L. (1989). Moving counseling research into the 21st century. The Counseling Psychologist, 17, 81-85.
  4. Goldman, L. (1998). Still the serendipitous maverick. In L. Hoshmand (Ed.), Creativity and moral vision in psychology (pp. 67-90). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

See also: