Counselling and Coaching

Working with less distressed clients means that many of the MMPI-2 profiles are within the "normal range," i.e., the MMPI-2 T-scores are all less than 65. Cuts at T-70 (MMPI) or T-65 (MMPI-2) have never reflected abrupt qualitative changes in the expected sensitivities and dispositions. These T-scores in the normal range are simply milder continuations of the behavioral indications of T-scores in the "abnormal" range.


Changes of intensity In general, the higher the elevations, the greater the associated impairment and disability. If the highest scores are in the normal range, usually the person is reasonably functional. Sometimes a person with scores in the 60 - 64 range is seen as highly effective. For example, a high IQ can compensate for the interfering effects of relatively mild elevations, e.g., the person may be seen as aggressively successful but not particularly likeable, or an elevation on 9-Ma can have constructive ambition-driving effects.


Changes in wording Interpreting peak scores in the normal range typically requires some shifts of vocabulary. Instead of saying "depression" (with its heavier clinical implications), at T over 55 we may talk about seriousness, earnestness, a hesitation to confront others, hyper-responsibility, restricted self-indulgence, etc. Instead of schizoid trends, we may talk about idiosyncracies, personal quirks or eccentricities, distinct or perhaps original ways of perceiving relationships, etc. The problems associated with mild 4-Pd elevations may be focally limited in scope, e.g., good, steady employment but repeatedly troubled family relationships, or conversely, a stable family but repeated problems in conforming to expectations on the job, or anti-authority sentiments may focus on not always restrained opposition to political abuses, etc. (Beware that the T-scores for the same raw scores on 4-Pd are very often 9 points higher on the original MMPI norms, and the 4-Pd T-scores on the MMPI-2 norms consistently underpredict the extent of the associated behaviors.)


Code changes The varying relative changes in elevation between the MMPI norms and the MMPI-2 norms has had major effects on the codes obtained from any given set of raw scores. Note that any set of raw scores can, of course, be plotted on either or both sets of norms; I immediately superimpose the MMPI T-scores on top of the MMPI-2 profile by hand. This gives me access to the decades of research as well as my own clinical experience. You can contact us for blank "double-profile" sheets.


Although about one-third of inpatient profiles do not have the same two scales highest on both sets of norms (Butcher et al., 1989), Humphrey and Dahlstrom (1995) showed that just over one-half of the MMPI-2 normative sample did not have the same two scales highest. The problem is that the interpretation of normal range profiles is more dependent on the coding than is the interpretation of elevated profiles; such normal range interpretations are much more subtle. My algorithms interpreting profiles in the T-50 to T-65 range are much longer and more complex than those for the T-65 to T-120 range, despite accounting for a far smaller segment of the variance. Some authors avoid this by simply refusing to interpret in the normal range, but if one shifts from pathologic to stylistic thinking and vocabulary, a wealth of predictions can be made from the less elevated profiles.


In a variety of counseling and coaching circumstances, this shift to "normal range thinking" can be crucial. If one is working to help a functioning individual adapt better, i.e., less conflict, more gratification, an easier or more successful life, etc., then a relatively unelevated MMPI-2 profile can readily highlight sensitivities that need to be allowed for, illuminate a better understanding of how things go wrong, and highlight what different reactions and attitudes the person may want to cultivate.





Butcher, J. N., Dahlstrom, W. G., Graham, J. R., Tellegen, A., & Kaemmer, B. (1989). MMPI-2: Manual for administration and scoring. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Humphrey, D. H., & Dahlstrom, W. G. (1995).The impact of changing from the MMPI to the MMPI-2 on profile configurations. Journal of Personality Assessment, 64, 428-439.