Publications by JB Allyn


Writing to Clients and Referring Professionals About Psychological Assessment Results: A Handbook of Style and Grammar
Published by Routledge Mental Health,
an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.

This book is the first on the craft of effective writing structured expressly for the psychologist-assessor. Combining reference book with tutorial, I blend information on the qualities that create a writer’s unique presence on the page with illustrations of correct English grammar. All of the questions, answers, and examples evolved from the psychology writing and communication needs of psychologist-assessors. The result creates a guide for effective psychological report writing for practicing clinicians and graduate psychology students.


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association guides those who write for publication in the world of psychology, using the conventions of “APA style.” However, more than a dozen other style manuals exist, and among them, some details conflict. My book’s guidance on English grammar presents composite information from different sources in as straightforward a manner as possible. In deference to APA style as the standard in psychological writing, however, I refer specifically to APA’s conventions in many situations.

The first and third sections of the book discuss aspects of effective communication, while the second section provides a handbook of common grammar problems. Helpful elements – bullet lists, tables, illustrations, and grammar and style examples, all framed around psychological assessment reports – guide the reader through the text. I write in a conversational tone, a key tool for clear communication that creates the same written style I propose for effectively written reports. Readers will refer back to this book for quick tips on writing style and grammar as well as for detailed advice on effective writing and effective communication.

What Others Say About Writing to Clients and Referring Professionals About Psychological Assessment Results: A Handbook of Style and Grammar:

…I challenge even experienced psychological assessors to read this book and not come away with a renewed commitment to clearer communication…” (from the Foreword)
– Stephen E. Finn, PhD, founder, Center for Therapeutic Assessment, Austin, TX

This is a stand-out volume….written specifically for psychologists, but is useful and even inspiring for all writers.” (from the Foreword)
– Constance T. Fischer, PhD, Professor, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA

Finally! A definitive guide for assessment psychologists and graduate students on how to write professionally and communicate effectively and therapeutically—through written and spoken word. This book will be on my assessment course syllabus and on my shelf!”
– Deborah J. Tharinger, PhD, Professor, University of Texas at Austin;
Licensed psychologist, private practice

If you write, you will love this book. Allyn brings back to life all those writing rules and wisdom that rang faintly in the back of my head. Beyond that, it clarifies the cutting edge of psychological report writing, including children’s stories! It will be required reading for all my students!”
–Hale Martin, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor, Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University of Denver, Colorado; Licensed psychologist, private practice

Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment: A Casebook and Guide
Edited by Stephen E. Finn, Constance T. Fischer, and Leonard Handler
Chapter Four by Diane H. Engelman and J.B. Allyn
Published by John Wiley & Sons, 2012

Three pioneers in the field of Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment (C/TA) – Finn, Fischer, and Handler – compiled and edited this book. Using a case study approach to demonstrate how to apply C/TA, this book provides psychologists in all areas of assessment with 18 powerful case examples that can illuminate and improve clients’ lives.

Chapter 4:
“Collaboration in Neuropsychological Assessment: Metaphor as Intervention With A Suicidal Adult” by Diane H. Engelman and J.B. Allyn

In this chapter, we describe and discuss extended collaboration during one neuropsychological assessment. Dr. Engelman worked with the client to explore the significance of various assessment results for the young woman. Based on information gathered, she and I then collaborated in writing an allegorical story of the woman’s life and experience. This therapeutic story formed a powerful basis for Dr. Engelman’s feedback and discussion with the client.

Articles, Papers, and Therapeutic Stories

“Why am I so Stuck?”: A Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment Case Discussion
In this article, my co-authors – psychological assessors from three continents – and I, a professional writer, discuss our work together on a single collaborative/therapeutic assessment case. Our goal was to hold the client at the center and forefront of our attitudes and thinking as each assessor focused on a specific measure or group of measures. Individualized letters from each assessor addressed the client’s concerns, and a metaphorical, therapeutic story I wrote stressed key findings from the assessment.

Co-written with Diane H. Engelman, Alessandro Crisi, Stephen E. Finn, Constance T. Fischer, and Noriko Nakamura.

Quality of Life in Older Adults: “Old Age Ain’t No Place for Sissies”
Aging – a fact of life for us all. This paper explores the experiences of one older adult, her family, and the neuropsychologist who assesses the woman’s memory using the techniques of Therapeutic Assessment. The collaboration among them all provides the key to answering the client’s questions. Results examine what is important to each of us and how that importance influences memory, depression, and our own humanity.

This paper was published in Italian in the online journal Babele, issue #25 (64), September 2015. Its Italian title is La qualita della vita negli anziani. To read this article in the journal, go to this link and turn to page 46.

Co-written and presented with Diane H. Engelman.

A Comma or a Period?
An Assessment Client’s Perspective on the Impact of the Written Word

This paper discusses the impact of accurate though damning words on an individual who is already struggling from physical illness and cognitive difficulties. It traces my efforts to make sense of dense, jargon-laden writing in a report that followed the trying experience of my own neuropsychological assessment. It then explores ways in which I helped myself to heal, at least in part, through the written word – through my own writing as well as that of others.

This paper was published in Italian in the online psychological journal Babele, issue #15 (54), July 2012, under the Italian title Una virgola o un punto? To read this paper in the journal, go to this link and open to page 28.

Through the Land of Oz: Self-Advocacy in Today’s Health Care System
In this article, my co-author Dr. Diane Engelman and I trace the frustrating but ultimately empowering journey that she took to get appropriate care for her daughter’s serious heart condition. Repeatedly, they became entangled in the self-serving maze of a large HMO’s bureaucracy. The process helped them to learn and re-learn the importance of self-education and self-advocacy, whether in the field of physical or mental health.

Collaborative Creativity: Ways in Which an Assessor Works with a Writer
to Craft Therapeutic Stories

This paper, jointly presented with neuropsychologist Diane Engelman, explores how we came to collaborate in writing metaphorical, therapeutic stories for her clients. We discuss how the stories combine creative writing with technical writing, how we work together, and what impact the stories have on those for whom they are written.

Sample Therapeutic Stories
My collaborator on the stories, Dr. Diane Engelman, may decide that certain mental health and cognitive information from an assessment would have additional therapeutic impact if framed in a metaphorical story. This story becomes an extension of the psychological report. I create the story, in which images and characters metaphorically reflect the client’s life experience and reinforce the messages Dr. Engelman has selected. Each therapeutic story shared with a client bears a draft number – none is ever marked “final.” As a client’s life shifts, the story, too, may be changed to reflect those shifts.