Psychological assessments have an important role to play in ensuring that contributors are appropriately ‘cast’ and that they are well looked-after throughout filming until after transmission.

They aim to:

To ensure contributors are making informed consent to their appearance on a show:

  • they understand and are happy with what will be required of them;
  • they recognise that they do not hold editorial control and may be shown ‘warts and all’ on a programme;
  • they are aware that they may face issues as a consequence of the programme being broadcast (being recognised in the street; visibility in reviews or comment pieces in print or online media; possible negative – even unpleasant – comment on social media)

To ensure that contributors have the capacity to understand what their participation involves and to consent to this

To ensure that they are psychologically robust enough to undergo what could be a challenging and exposing experience, more specifically:

  • they aren’t a risk to themselves;
  • they aren’t a risk to others;
  • they will not be affected adversely by being involved in the making of a television programme or by its subsequent broadcast

To predict any difficulties there might be in producing contributors or if there are any particular situations that are likely to be stressful.

During the assessment, Lynn looks for congruence and signs of resilience. If contributors have given a straightforward history, she would expect to find them relatively uncomplicated in their manner and to be leading a ‘balanced’ life – in terms of work, friendships, study, relationships, etc.

Where there have been mental-health problems, she looks for for evidence that contributors are fully aware of these (some aren’t), that (ideally) they have received support or treatment and – most importantly – have since come through ordinary life stresses successfully. In effect, they are capable of withstanding some levels of pressure and anxiety.

The ‘best’ (unqualified) sign-off would be that the contributor isn’t a risk to self or others and the programme won’t be detrimental to her/him. Sometimes, this might be my opinion but I may also suggest that the production team remains alert to certain situations (for instance, a seemingly confident adolescent whose direct manner camouflages some self-consciousness and insecurity).

Anyone with a history (unless distant, minor or addressed by formal treatment) of drink, drug, food or other self-damaging behaviours would be flagged as a potential risk to self – particularly under stressful circumstances.

Contributors highlighted as a ‘risk to others’ are generally best avoided.

 

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During the assessment, Lynn looks for congruence and signs of resilience. If contributors have given a straightforward history, she would expect to find them relatively uncomplicated in their manner and to be leading a ‘balanced’ life – in terms of work, friendships, study, relationships, etc.