2016 Beginning Programs Open for Registration

This year, similar to last year, we are offering two beginning program options.
Details and registration are available at – “training programs.”

The first option is to assist those with challenging work schedules. We will have a 4 Day Beginning Program, February 18-21, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. The Program includes the same number of teaching contact hours as the five day program but is condensed into longer hours over a weekend. This Program will be held at the Comfort Suites, Frisco, Texas, that is north of Dallas, convenient to airports (Love Field and DWI) and is within walking distance of Frisco Square that offers a wide range of restaurants, cinema, etc.

The second option is the regular 5 Day Beginning Program to be held at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT, Monday – Friday, June 27- July 1, 2016. A courtesy room block is being held at the Marriott Residence Inn, downtown Hartford.

Psychologists ask why online training is not offered, or why the beginning training cannot be shortened.
Rorschach Training Programs has found that to have a solid foundation of understanding how to administer, code, and interpret the Rorschach CS training needs to occur through face to face interaction and feedback. This Program is equal to a semester’s training in the Rorschach CS. It is important that psychologists have an in-depth understanding of how scores are derived and how the structural summary is developed. Many psychologists rely on computer programs as time becomes a factor; however, it is vital that psychologists know the underpinnings of the systems they are using.

WE CONTINUE TO OFFER A DISCOUNT FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS. Before attempting to register send an email requesting instructions. Detailed information is posted on the website.

This 2 Day Program is being planned for early August, 2016, in the New York City area. It is an opportunity to refresh and refine your Rorschach CS skills. Participants will be able to experience a variety of challenging protocols that will enhance their Rorschach abilities and increase their confidence in using the Comprehensive System. It will also provide the opportunity to network with colleagues, and enjoy the ambience of the “Big Apple.” This is a program for experienced Rorschachers. It is not a program for beginners. More information will be available when the program details are confirmed later in the year.

Coming – January/February 2016
Forensic Client History and Checklist (FCHC)

The foundation for any evaluation is a good history. Historical information provides a context for test findings and clarifies behavioral patterns. Whether you are involved in a clinical treatment practice, a clinical evaluation practice, or a forensic practice the value of a structured history cannot be overstated.

The January/February Newsletter 2016 will be offering just such a tool developed by Anthony Sciara PhD. The Forensic Client History and Checklist (FCHC) will be available online at that time. See the January/February 2016 RTP Newsletter for ordering instructions.

Remember that comments and questions are always welcome.

As the holidays approach we wish everyone the best of the season.




For some time it has been reported that the Exner family has stated that the Comprehensive System should not change. We recently spoke to Andrea Metts, the daughter of John Exner and the director of Rorschach Workshops in Asheville, North Carolina, to clarify their position. She indicated the Exner family never intended that the Comprehensive System could not change. She believes that another member of the family who was previously active in Rorschach workshops may have voiced that position to other people; however, that is not the official position of Rorschach Workshops.

Andrea also indicated that the family never agreed with certain proposals set forth by the R-PAS group. She characterized those proposals as including a surrender of the Comprehensive System to R-PAS to manage. The family feels strongly that it is important to protect the work of John Exner and for the copyrighted materials to stay as it is. That is not to exclude research suggesting changes to the System. Those who knew Dr. Exner can recall that he said that the Comprehensive System was a “work in progress”.
Andrea also stated that Rorschach Training Programs (RTP) has long been given permission to use Rorschach workshop protocols in their programs. However, no such permission has been given to any other group, including R-PAS. Dr. Exner’s wife, Doris, and Ms. Metts requested RTP clarify their position in this newsletter in an effort to encourage ongoing research and publication on the use of the Comprehensive System.


Dr. Ritzler recently attended a conference on the Comprehensive System held by the Comprehensive System International Rorschach Association (CSIRA) in Milan, Italy. The association president is Anne Andronikoff from France and the vice president is Noriko Nakamura from Japan.

The conference ran for three days and contained many interesting papers and posters. Two workshops were conducted at the end: One on the forensic use of the Comprehensive System and another on CHESSS – a computer program based on the Comprehensive System developed by Patrick Fontan from France.

The conference was an indication that the Comprehensive System is practiced extensively throughout the world and that much research is being conducted on additions to, and changes in, the Comprehensive System. In 2017, CSIIRA will co-sponsor the International Rorschach Congress in Paris.

CSIRA also is developing a data base for the Comprehensive System. Protocols, coding, and background information can be sent to Patrick Fontan at or by snail-mail at 36 rue de Chinon, 94110 Arcueil, France.


We have very much appreciated the great responses to our Coding book. Among the many responses were a couple of individuals who noted an inaccurate example on Page 9. To correct the inaccuracy please go to our website – “Materials to Purchase” and there you will find a replacement for Page 9 that can be downloaded and printed.

As always, we welcome your comments about our publications and strive to keep them as accurate as possible.



All 2015 Programs have been completed and we are now looking toward planning for 2016.
The International Convention of the Rorschach Comprehensive System will be held in Milan, Italy, the last week of August. Dr. Ritzler will be attending and presenting a paper on the reliability of Comprehensive System variables and a poster on teaching workshops in the United States. The next newsletter will have a summary of the convention.

Below are frequently asked questions we answer during our training programs. We hope you find the information helpful.

1.How long ago did Hermann Rorschach develop the ink blot test?
Hermann Rorschach developed the test in the 1920s. He died of a burst appendix at the age of 37 when only 6 tests had been sold. There is evidence that Rorschach was enamored with inkblots and the parlor game Klecksographie (Blotto). From that interest, he developed his test as a series of ten cards which are drawings based on actual inkblots. Some previous research had been done with inkblots, usually for the purpose of assessing intelligence, but Rorschach used his test to assess the cognitive and perceptual functioning of psychiatric patients. His research into inkblots is contained in his monograph, Psychodiagnostik. Many of Rorschach’s original codes and scoring guidelines are used today.

2. Why use the Rorschach when other tests are quicker?
The Rorschach gives us information about psychological functioning not obtainable from other assessment procedures. In most cases, it enables us to understand a person much in the way a long-term therapist comes to understand a client. However, the Rorschach gives that information in a few hours compared to weeks of psychotherapy. It would be helpful for many therapists to know about their patients’ Rorschach at the beginning of therapy.

3. How do I obtain a diagnosis using the Rorschach?
The Rorschach was never meant to be a test to obtain a DSM diagnosis. Rather, it is most useful in understanding an individual’s psychological style and functioning. For instance, there are many different ways of being schizophrenic or depressed and the Rorschach usually detects these differences.

4. Why doesn’t Rorschach Training Programs (RTP) teach computer scoring?
The goal of the Beginning Program is to teach psychologists how to administer, score, and interpret the Rorschach with a clear understanding of its underlying principles. All scoring (coding) is done by the psychologist whether they input it into a computer or hand calculate an individual protocol. RTP does briefly introduce computer programs and discuss several different programs available. Because our goal is to have students understand how the scores (coding) are determined and how the structural summary is constructed, hand scoring and interpretation is used with the case material. After this Program you will be able to make better use of any computer program. It is still necessary for the psychologist to modify and re-word the computer generated report to fit the individual client.

5. Why doesn’t RTP do online training?
We believe that students need face to face feedback and instruction as they work through case protocols, learning from their mistakes to improve their scoring and their ability to construct and understand a Rorschach structural summary. Online instruction may be useful in helping a psychologist to become familiar with the system’s procedures, but it is no substitute for direct instruction with actual protocols and live instructors.

6. I don’t have much time. Why is the beginning training so many days?
The training begins with the simplest patient protocols and, over the course of 4 to 5 days, the protocols increase in difficulty. At the end of the Beginning Program you should be ready to administer, score and interpret a protocol. We consider the Beginning Program to be the equivalent of a semester’s graduate instruction in the Comprehensive System (CS). The Society for Personality Assessment indicates that at least a semester of graduate instruction is necessary to effectively use any assessment method.

7. Should I feel confident to give the test when the program ends?
Using the Rorschach is a complicated process; however, you should be ready to begin practicing on your own after the Beginning Program. It is important to administer your first ‘real’ Rorschach as soon as possible after completion of the program. The more frequently you give the Rorschach, the more competent and confident you will become. The Beginning Program provides training in Rorschach administration and gives you preparation for coding using the CS. While the Beginning Program introduces you to interpretation, there is no substitute for continued training with the method.

8. How does the CS compare to RPAS?
The two systems are very similar, but not the same. For example, RPAS changed administration to limit the responses to “pull for two and push after four” which precludes individuals from freely giving their responses.

The main problem we have with RPAS is that method is based on the international norms reported in Amsterdam in 1992. Those results differ from the Exner norms. They are less complicated (higher Lambdas) and have less color. We are concerned that people who give complicated Rorschachs with color responses will be seen as psychologically abnormal.

RPAS has ignored all the Rorschach research conducted prior to 1970.
We believe much of this research made a significant contribution to the development of the Rorschach and should not be ignored.

RPAS findings are based on international norms developed from a variety of international studies – administration and group samples are a concern. The international norms were based on obtaining information from the average person on the street. The Exner norms attempted to identify an average level of psychological functioning which is probably above the level of the average person.

9. How are RPAS and the CS similar?
Both systems follow similar coding (scoring) principles. Both use the same words of instruction, “What might this be?” Both use many of the same variables. Both construct structural summaries. While RPAS may work as well as the CS in some cases, there is no evidence that it is better.

10. I have heard that Dr. Exner and his family will not allow changes.
Dr. Exner always said that the CS is a “work in progress.”
What the family does not want changed is what Dr. Exner wrote and copyrighted in his workbooks and articles. Research should continue to expand our understanding of this complex test and meaningful findings will be integrated into our use of the CS.

11. Will I get confused between systems if I attend an RPAS Program?
Psychologists tell us that they have found parts of the RPAS system helpful. Once you understand the process you will benefit from using whatever seems to be most helpful in your practice. Since RPAS uses many of the CS guidelines, it is doubtful that attending an RPAS workshop will confuse you. Just keep in mind that the RPAS programs are much briefer and more statistically oriented than the CS; and, consequently, do not allow participants to fully learn an interpretative approach to the Rorschach.

12. What is needed for the future?
Psychologists should continue to do and publish research on both the CS and the RPAS. To date, one system has not been proven better than the other, but more clinical research would be helpful. It will be important that research be conducted by psychologists who have not developed and do not favor a particular system.

We appreciate the support of our many newsletter subscribers and program participants. Feel free to send an email or call at any time with your comments, questions, or suggestions.

Enjoy any remaining vacation or travel time and best wishes for a successful start to the new academic year.




Anthony Sciara, PhD, ABPP


While the Rorschach has been around since the early 1930’s, uses of the Rorschach in the practice of assessment have not always been clear.  For those of us who treat patients/clients the Rorschach can be a valuable tool for identifying both short term and long term therapy goals.  It also helps to clarify the personality traits that may be less amenable to psychological treatment.

When consulting with other psychotherapists the Rorschach can provide the foundation for a discussion of what the psychotherapist might focus on and what the patient/client may have in the way of strengths and weaknesses for moving forward in therapy.

The Rorschach is really NOT a good tool for defining a diagnostic category (a la DSM).  In fact, there is not a lot of crossover between the DSM and the findings on the Rorschach.  The DSM categories and the Rorschach were developed using very different methods and with different goals in mind.  While the Rorschach is excellent in describing an individual’s personality functioning, something like the Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory would be much better suited for diagnosing (categorizing) an individual with a psychiatric disorder.

The Rorschach is a very good tool to use in conjunction with a neuropsychological evaluation.  If you accept the concept that the Rorschach is a complex, cognitive, perceptual, problem solving task then its capability to help describe the impact of tumors, neurocognitive diseases and traumatic brain injury is incredible.  The combined information from neuropsychological testing and the Rorschach provides an extremely rich data pool from which to direct treatment.

In the forensic setting the Rorschach has been well received by many judicial jurisdictions.   When used within the context of a comprehensive forensic evaluation the Rorschach can provide insight into an individual’s cognitive makeup both at the current time and at the time of the commission of a crime.

In the school setting the Rorschach can be helpful in describing the developing status of students and, when used in serial administrations over time, it helps to demonstrate changes with age.  The Rorschach has also been helpful in developing programs for studying based on the student’s information processing strategies.  Potential for violence in schools also is a problem with which the Rorschach has been helpful.

Patient/clients in medical or physical rehabilitation facilities can be helped to move forward in their medical treatment by understanding their reaction to their symptoms, the role that anxiety and depression plays in their recovery, and how accurately they interpret their physical symptoms.

There have also been strategies for using Rorschach findings as an ongoing part of therapeutic intervention.  As the results are discussed they help to inform treatment goals and patient understanding.  Creative therapeutic uses of the Rorschach have been researched when having a couple complete a ‘joint, mutually agreed upon’ Rorschach protocol.

In many ways, the uses of the Rorschach in clinical practice are only limited by the clinician’s willingness to use those results in creative and novel ways.

In order to use the Rorschach however, the clinician must have a thorough understanding of coding, administration and interpretation.  While ongoing use of the Rorschach helps, it is direct training that jump starts the clinician’s skill and creativity.

We hope to see you at one of the Rorschach Training Programs to help you get that jump start!


The final Program for 2015 is a “Two Day Advanced Program on Risk for Suicide” scheduled for Thursday, August 13 and Friday, August 14, at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut.   All the details can be found on the website at

This Advanced Program offers the unique opportunity to hear Dr. Christopher Fowler discuss his in-depth research on suicide and the Rorschach.   He is currently the associate director of Clinical Research and staff psychologist at The Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas.  Dr. Fowler’s presentations provide valuable information based on robust research that can be important for any clinician treating patients/clients in or out of a clinical setting.  At the end of the Program attendees will be able to identify characteristics indicating a risk for suicide and describe potential treatments and outcomes.    This Program may not be offered again so don’t miss this exceptional opportunity.

As always, thanks for your interest and support.  


As we know, the Rorschach can be used for a variety of purposes in personality assessment.

The Comprehensive System is particularly useful because of its firm grounding in research and its highly structured nature.  There is a correct, structured way to administer the Rorschach according to the Comprehensive System – how to sit, what instructions to use, and how to conduct the inquiry.  The coding also is highly structured with rules and guidelines for scoring responses set forth in our recently published workbook, Coding Strategies for the Rorschach Comprehensive System by Sciara, Weiner, and Ritzler. (The books are available for purchase on the RTP website.)   Finally, Dr. Exner established the structured procedures for interpretation which are currently used by the major computer programs and most experts with the Comprehensive System.

The Rorschach process is very much like the everyday process of living life according to an individual’s personality.  Psychologists have used the Comprehensive System in forensic cases, in clinical settings, to address occupational questions, and in a number of other situations.  If a psychologist intends to use personality assessments in their work, it is extremely helpful to know how to use the Comprehensive System.


Two Beginning Programs and Two Advanced Programs are now open for registration.

The Beginning Programs are designed to teach beginning Rorschach students how to administer, score, and interpret the Rorschach.   The Advanced Programs focus on specific topics and emphasize interpretation of the Rorschach as well as including additional information on cases.


The first Beginning Program is scheduled for Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22 in Dallas, Texas.  This Program will be presented from Thursday through Sunday to make it easier for students and professional psychologists to schedule time to attend.   All the details for the Program are published on the RTP website.  The Program will be held in Frisco, Texas (northern suburb of Dallas).   The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, breaks, etc.  Current airfare sales are making flights to Dallas very economical.


The second 5 Day Beginning Program is scheduled for Monday, July 6 through Friday, July 10 at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT.   The Beginning Program provides an equivalent to a semester’s graduate training in the Rorschach Comprehensive System.  The Program is later this year so academic classes will be over and alleviate fewer academic conflicts for graduate students.   This is also a helpful program for any faculty member planning to teach the Rorschach Comprehensive System.    The city of Hartford is approximately 2 hours from either Boston or New York City.  Both buses and trains are efficient means of transportation to Hartford.



A 2 Day Program on genocide and terrorism is scheduled in Dallas on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18.  The Program is entitled “Nazi war criminal Rorschachs and their relevance for modern terrorism.”  The Program will feature the Rorschachs of the commandant of Auschwitz, Hermann Goering, Adolph Eichmann, and the Rorschach of Sirhan Sirhan to enumerate the Rorschach factors that are consistent with the perpetration of terrorism.


A 2 Day Advanced Program on Risk for Suicide is scheduled for Thursday, August 13 and Friday, August 14.

The first day offers the rare opportunity to hear Dr. Chris Fowler discuss his research on suicide and the Rorschach.   He is currently the associate director of Clinical Research and staff psychologist at The Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas.  At the end of the Program attendees will be able to identify characteristics indicating a risk for suicide.

Note to Students – If you are a student wanting to obtain the student discount for the Beginning Program please contact  for instructions.




The annual meeting of the Society for Personality Assessment (SPA) will be held March 4-8, 2015, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.  There will be a variety of paper sessions, symposia, and posters, related to the Rorschach.  Dr. Ritzler will present a paper on thought disorder coding for the Picture Projection Test (PPT).   During the meeting the RTP will have a table in the Exhibit Area.  We hope you will stop by and introduce yourself.  A limited number of materials will be available for purchase.



The second meeting is a conference sponsored by the Comprehensive System International Rorschach Society (CSIRA) in Milan, Italy, August 29-29, 2015.  Dr. Ritzler will give two presentations.  The first presentation will discuss new international research on the reliability of the Comprehensive System variables.     The second presentation will be on teaching the Comprehensive System by Rorschach Training Programs.   For more information search [CSIRA/ARISI] CSIRA Congress 2015.



RTP welcomes your questions and comments.


by Anthony D. Sciara, PhD, Irving B. Weiner, PhD, and Barry A.
Ritzler, PhD is now available.

This is the first book on coding for the Comprehensive System in
many years. It presents a new approach to understanding how to
code Rorschach Comprehensive System variables. The variables are
presented in the order they appear on a Sequence of Scores outline.

Each chapter begins with a definition of the variable, then
outlines the interpretive significance of the variable, and finally
presents guidelines on how to code each variable. It is a great
resource for students, educators, and clinicians who wish to master
coding the Rorschach.

To purchase your copy of Coding Strategies for the Rorschach
Comprehensive System go to From the top
menu select “Materials for Purchase.” The Coding Strategies book
will be the third item.

We are now beginning to plan for 2015 Programs. Suggestions for
content, dates, and sites are welcomed. A new schedule will be out
by the end of October or first of November.

Ritzler participated in the International Rorschach and Projective
Techniques Congress in July at the Istanbul University in Istanbul,
Turkey. Excellent opening speeches were given by Bruce Smith, the
President of the International Congress, and Jim Kleiger who
speculated on what Hermann Rorschach would think of the current
state of his ‘experiment.’

Dr. Ritzler presented two papers. The first was an introduction to
the Picture Projection Test (PPT) with emphasis on research and
development. The presentation was well-attended. In the audience
was Jim Kleiger who recommended the development of a thought
disorder coding for apperception tests-a task Dr. Ritzler will
undertake as part of an invited paper in the Journal of Personality
Assessment honoring Dr. Sidney Blatt who died recently.

The second paper, presented by Dr. Ritzler was of research
comparing the Rorschach Comprehensive System and measures taken
from the Tree Drawing Test. Results showed that there were a few
modest correlations. The solidness of lines in the drawings was
correlated with the number of human movement responses (M); the
presence of leaves in the drawings was correlated with WSumC and
XA%; the overall quality of the drawings was correlated with v, FD,
Vista,WSum6, and blends; and the height of the trees was correlated
with PHR. No other correlations were significant.

Many papers were presented with a psychoanalytic approach to the
Rorschach (mostly from France) based primarily on content analysis.

There was no use of formal scoring systems so it demanded a
cognitive shift for those of us with a bias toward data based
systems. The programs were nonetheless interesting and added a
different facet to understanding the Rorschach.

The meeting demonstrated that projective methods other than the
Rorschach are being studied by psychologists around the world.
There have been some significant advancements in figure drawings
and apperception tests in particular. The next meeting of the
International Congress will be in three years in Paris, France.

All in all, the Istanbul meeting was a major event for personality
assessment throughout the world. You have not lived until you have
had a taxicab ride in Istanbul, seen the beautiful Bosphorus and
the whirling dervishes….and of course, the food was great!

In September, Drs. Sciara and Ritzler, will be joined by Dr. Irving
Weiner to present a four-day program on Personality Development and
the Rorschach Comprehensive System in Buenos Aries, Argentina. The
program will review the development of the Comprehensive System
with Dr. Weiner and Dr. Exner and then will look at cases over the
developmental spectrum. These will include: child, adolescent,
early adult, middle-age adult, and senior adult cases. Discussions
will focus on differential interventions based on the developmental
stage of the individual.

Dr. Sciara and Dr. Anita Boss recently completed an advanced
program on the Forensic Use of the Comprehensive System in
Asheville. The program covered criminal, civil and other legal
cases. The program was well received and the participants
requested another program next year to continue learning about
using the Rorschach Comprehensive System in the legal system.

The next Society for Personality Assessment meeting will be held in
Brooklyn in March, 2015. The deadline for submitting presentations
is September 26, 2014. Go to the SPA website –
to obtain information regarding paper submissions, registrations,


Next week we will be conducting the last 5 Day Beginning Program
for 2014. We frequently receive comments from those interested in
registering that five days is such a big commitment. Yes, we know
that it is a huge commitment of time and financial resources;
however, learning to administer, code, and interpret the Rorschach
is complicated and it takes time to appreciate the intricacies of
the process. For those wanting to become proficient with the
Rorschach Ink Blot Test, it takes time and teacher-student
interaction. After learning the basics it is appropriate to use
additional online training, computer assisted scoring, and
continued personal training.

Once again, this June we have students from many parts of the
United States. Often graduate students are required to have
training in the Rorschach for their internship. The RTP Beginning
Program provides an intensive experience that is equal to one
semester of university training in the Rorschach Comprehensive
System. We look forward to once again holding the Program at the
University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut.

The Advanced Two Day Forensic Program planning is well underway and
will be held Thursday and Friday, August 21 and 22, 2014, in
Asheville, North Carolina. Drs. Anita Boss and Anthony Sciara are
the faculty members for this Program. Both of these instructors
have years of experience in forensic evaluation and are still
currently engaged in forensic practice. Not only will relevant
case protocols be presented, but also discussion of how to prepare
for court, what to bring to the courtroom, what not to say, etc.,
will be included.

Don’t delay in registering because there will be a limit to the
number of registrations accepted. This is so each student is
assured of a high quality learning experience.

The International Rorschach Congress is being held in Istanbul,
Turkey, July 15 – July 19, 2014. While there, Dr. Ritzler will be
presenting the Picture Projection Test, an apperception method with
cards showing more color, more smiles, and more people than in the

From September 3 – September 8, 2014, Drs. Sciara, Weiner, and
Ritzler will be conducting a Comprehensive System workshop in
Buenos Aries, Argentina. We anticipate approximately 75
participants. This international program is being presented in
conjunction with FERSiC which is under the direction of Sr. Marta
Medina. The participants will come from all over South and Central
America. This is the 5th cooperative program between RTP and
FERSiC in Buenos Aires.

In March 2015, the Society for Personality Assessment will hold its
annual meeting in Brooklyn, New York. It is not too early to
consider attending this meeting.
RTP is pleased to announce the arrival of a new book on Coding for
the Comprehensive System. Drs. Sciara, Weiner, and Ritzler have
been working on this new book since 2012.

The book, Coding Strategies for the Rorschach Comprehensive System
provides a different approach to understanding coding. Unlike
other coding books it does not present line after line of examples
which are sometimes taken out of context and thereby lead to
confusion. While the “Coding Strategies” book gives some examples,
they are in the context of focusing on thoroughly understanding
what the codes represent, what they contribute to understanding the
examinee and, finally, strategies for coding the variable

“Coding Strategies” helps students, trainers, and clinicians
understand coding by demonstrating how differences in coding can
occur depending upon how the response and verbalizations during the
inquiry were articulated by the examinee.

The “Coding Strategies” book is the first new book on coding the
Comprehensive System in some time. We believe it will help to
clarify many issues and mistaken notions about coding. A special
email announcement will be sent out when the book is available for
purchase in August.

I see that Alberto Peralta has done an assessment of Adolph
Eichmann’s personality using Eichmann’s TAT. It should be a good
compliment to the work we have done with Eichmann’s Rorschach. The
assessment was published in Szandiana (

Thanks again to all our subscribers. If you have questions,
concerns or suggestions for the Newsletter please let us hear from


Barry Alan Ritzler, PhD

Society for Personality Assessment (SPA)

I attended the Society for Personality Assessment annual convention in Arlington, Virginia from March 19 through March 23.  There were workshops and presentations on R-PAS, but there also were presentations based on the Comprehensive System.  I gave a workshop on the administration and coding of the Comprehensive System.  In a paper session that I chaired, Luciano Giromini reported on a normative sample he compiled compared to the international norms used by R-PAS. He used a Bayesian method to show that his norms did not match the international norms.  We already know that the Comprehensive System norms do not match the international norms.  Since Giromini used somewhat different selection procedures than those used for the international norms and since Exner’s selection procedures also were different than the international norms, it is apparent that normative data depends on selection procedures.

In obtaining his normative data, Exner attempted to identify the average level of psychological functioning.  The aim of the international norms was to sample Comprehensive System results for the average person.  The Exner norms represent a healthier level of functioning because the average person unfortunately functions at a level below that of the average level of psychological functioning.  Consequently, the Comprehensive System is often accused of “over-pathologizing” non-patient results when, in reality, the differences are due more  to selection procedures rather than degrees of psychopathology covered by DSM.

Another problem for R-PAS is that the international norms were obtained using the Comprehensive System administration method that is different from the R-PAS administration procedures.  That means that R-PAS uses normative data that were obtained with administration methods that are not the administration procedure of R-PAS.

We like R-PAS because 1) it is still the Rorschach; 2) the manual is an impressive piece of work; and 3) Joni Mihura’s meta-analysis of Rorschach research is a high quality evaluation.  However, it is clear that R-PAS is a dramatically different method than the Comprehensive System (with no peer-reviewed research evidence that it is better).

Also, the marketing procedures which include the complex modern statistics used for the method’s manual impress many psychologists.  Finally, Mihura’s meta-analysis leaves out so many critical research studies that it yields an inaccurate view of the Comprehensive System.

At the SPA convention, it was apparent that many assessment psychologists still use the Comprehensive System.  We, of course, recommend this approach because we think it provides a more accurate assessment of an individual’s level of psychological functioning.

The SPA convention included much more that Rorschach presentations.  It was a spirited meeting that showed that assessment psychologists are using many different methods and points of view to understand the complexities of human behavior.

Rorschach Museum, Berne, Switzerland

Just before traveling to Arlington, I learned that the Rorschach Museum in Berne, Switzerland had burned down.  At the meeting, I was told that most of the memorabilia were saved and are now housed in the basement of the University in Berne.  I do not know for sure, but I assume that efforts are being made to find a new location for the Museum.

I also heard at the meeting that Rita Signer, the curator of the Museum and the keeper of the Rorschach Archives has retired.  We will keep you informed of the fate of the Museum and the naming of the new curator.

Coding Book Update

Work on the coding book is coming along and we are at the point of final editing.

We hope to have a copy ready for print by fall.  We will let everyone know when we are at the final stage of printing.

Final 2014 Training Programs

How fast the year is going.  Soon it will be summer (not soon enough for some of you) and time for the Five Day Training Program.  If you want to learn the basics of how to administer, code, and interpret the Rorschach this is your opportunity.   It will only happen about once each year.

This summer the Five Day Beginning Training Program will be held at the University of Hartford, Monday through Friday, June 23-27, 2014.  All the details are published on the website.  Hartford is equidistant between Boston and New York City so if flying into either city there are trains and buses that come to Hartford.  If interested in attending don’t delay your registration because participation is limited and pre-course materials will be mailed about four weeks in advance of the Program.

The Advanced Two Day Forensic Program planning is underway and will be held Thursday and Friday, August 21 and 22, 2014, in Asheville, North Carolina.  Drs. Anita Boss and Anthony Sciara are the faculty members for this Program.   Not only will relevant case protocols be presented, but also discussion of how to prepare for court, what to bring to the courtroom, what not to say, etc. will be included.

Thanks again to all our subscribers.  If you have questions, concerns or suggestions for the Newsletter please let us hear from you.



It is the beginning of a new year with new challenges and opportunities.   For Rorschach Training Programs 2014 offers three new training programs.   The first program is coming up soon and by the time you are reading this Newsletter registration will be closed.

We are already receiving registrations for the June Program so don’t wait too long to register because registration is limited so participants will have the highest quality learning situation.

We received enough response for the August Program so that the 2 Day Advanced Forensic Program is now open for registration.   This is an excellent opportunity to learn from two of the most experienced forensic psychologists  – Drs. Anita Boss and Anthony Sciara.


In January, my wife and I flew to Disneyland for a vacation.  While there, I flew to San Jose to be interviewed for a documentary on the psychology of Nazi Germany as revealed by the Rorschach test.  During the interview, I spoke about the Nuremburg Rorschachs (16, eventually 21) and the Rorschachs administered during the war crimes trials in Copenhagen, Denmark (almost 200 rank-and-file Nazis).  The interview was conducted by Eduardo Rufeisen, the producer, director, and writer of the documentary at the home of Paula Sozzi Saslow, the associate producer and also a writer.

Eduardo is from Brazil.  He obtained a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Motion Pictures and Television from the Academy of Art University in San Fransisco and his graduate degree in marketing from the Esola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He has more than 18 years of international experience producing, directing, and managing creative teams and crews.

Paula is from Argentina and obtained her Master’s Degree in Spanish Literature from Stanford University in 2002 and her PhD in Hispanic Literatures and Languages from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011.  She is now pursuing her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Motion Pictures and Television at the Academy of Art in San Fransisco.

I did not meet Boris Zubov who is the editor of the documentary.  He is an award-winning video editor, designer of motion graphics and a sound engineer.  Currently, he teaches graduate courses at the Academy of Art University.

During the interview, I addressed the following questions:

1.  Why was the Rorschach chosen as the main test for the Nazi criminals?

I said that the Rorschach was chosen because at the time, it was the most commonly used personality assessment method.  Many of the Nazis received intelligence tests, and the Thematic Apperception Test also was given to some.  The Rorschach was the only method that was administered to all the war criminals in the samples.

2.  What is the history of the Rorschach test?

I talked about Hermann Rorschach and his development of the test and the further development in the United States involving Bruno Klopfer, Samuel Beck, and John Exner.

3.  If different psychologists read the tests, would they interpret them differently?

I said that there are several approaches to the Rorschach at the current time and while different psychologists might interpret the test a little differently, the main conclusions we drew about the Nazi Rorschachs would essentially be the same because the test has basic interpretive guidelines.

4.   What did the test prove about the Nazi criminals?

I said the tests at Nuremburg did not identify a single Nazi personality.  There were a couple of psychopaths (Quisling and Rosenberg for sure) and some with psychopathology (Rudolf Hess was psychotic and Hans Frank appeared manic-depressive), but the group did not manifest the same psychological characteristics.  Some of the Rorschachs were outstanding (those of Baldur von Shirach and Hjalmar Schacht in particular).  The rank-and-file Rorschachs from Copenhagen showed some psychopaths (about 20%) and some who showed real regret (mostly military personnel, about 10%), but the rest showed very constricted Rorschachs with very few responses involving human percepts.  Our general conclusion was that our results were in line with Hannah Arendt’s theory of the Banality of Evil.  I also said that it had to be remembered that all the participants were on trial for war crimes and many for their lives, so it made sense that they might not say much to psychologists.  Also, the tests were administered after World War II was over in Europe—a fact that may have affected the Rorschachs.

5.   When were the Nazi Rorschachs made known to the public?

I told them that Molly Harrower sent the Nuremburg Rorschachs to Rorschach experts immediately after the war crimes trials, but got little response.  Later, in the early 60’s, she got a bigger response and published the results in Psychology Today.  She thought that the reason she got so little right after the war is that the experts saw little psychopathy or pathology in the Rorschachs and were afraid to make their opinions known so close to the war when many people still thought of the Nazis as psychopathic monsters.

6.   What was the source of the controversy between Dr. Kelly and Dr. Gilbert?

I told them that both men administered Rorschachs to the war criminals at Nuremburg and quarreled over who had the right to publish their findings.  Interestingly, Kelly—a psychiatrist—had worked with the Rorschach before (he is the Kelly of the Klopfer and Kelly volumes) and Gilbert (a psychologist) had never administered a Rorschach before Nuremburg.

7.   What is the relevance of Dr. Kelly’s special relationship with Goering?

I said that the folklore of Nuremburg indicates that Kelly smuggled the cyanide to Goering that allowed him to commit suicide.  This is because a few years later, Kelly also committed suicide with cyanide.  Goering had the kind of personality that enabled him to impress many people—including Hitler.  He was one of the few individuals who were close to Hitler through most of the Nazi years.  He also impressed many people at Nuremburg.  One of his Rorschach responses is of “a chameleon”—a good indication that he could adapt to many different situations.

8.   Can a similar tragedy evolve under similar circumstances today?

I said that Germany in the 1930’s was in dire economic and political turmoil, but the personalities exist today as they did then—individuals who were greatly influenced by external circumstances and who lacked the depth of character to question what they were being ordered to do.  I told them I was concerned about the rampant nationalism of today and the inability of the government to make important decisions.  As Elie Weisel said, we need to be concerned about the possibility of a Holocaust happening again.

I was interviewed because I was a co-author of the book Quest for the Nazi Personality which mainly dealt with the Rorschachs administered at Nuremburg.  I have a chapter in the book which reports the results of Rorschachs obtained at Copenhagen.  The Rorschachs there were administered by Nancy Braat-Oostergaard and were translated into English and brought to the United States by Michael Selzer, a political scientist at Brooklyn College.  Dr. Selzer and I have given the Rorschachs to the Library of Congress.

The Danish Rorschachs are important for several reasons:

1.  There are many more Rorschachs in the sample—nearly 200, compared to only 21 from Nuremburg.

2.  The Rorschachs were primarily from rank-and-file Nazis rather than the upper echelon Nazis tried at Nuremburg.

3.   Most of the Danish participants were from the part of Denmark contiguous with Germany—Schleswig-Holstein.  This means that most of the rank-and-file Nazis shared a cultural orientation with German Nazis.

The documentary will appear after all the pertinent interviews are completed.  I will tell you how to gain access to the film.  After this experience, I thought that a two-day workshop on the Nazi Rorschachs might be of interest.  I could include the Rorschachs of Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz (not Hitler’s secretary), Herman Goering (the most famous Nazi at Nuremburg), Hjalmar Schacht, The Secretary of Economics for the Nazis (who was acquitted at Nuremburg and has a fascinating Rorschach), and a typical rank-and-file Rorschach from Denmark.  We could focus on the coding and interpretive methods of the Comprehensive System, the approach I used to assess the Rorschachs.  Let me know if you are interested.


The next Newsletter will include a summary of the Society for Personality Convention to be held in Arlington, VA,  March, 2014.  I hope to see some of you there.


If there are questions concerning the Comprehensive System please know that Tony or I will be willing to respond.


Anthony Sciara, PhD


For the past decade Rorschach Training Programs has been jointly presenting international workshops in cooperation with FERSiC (Fundacion Estudios de Rorschach Sistema Comprehensivo) and their Director, Marta Medina.

The incentives to attend are many: a wonderful hotel in downtown Buenos Aires (Feirs Park Hotel), numerous wonderful restaurants with that delicious Argentinian beef, lomo, great prices on amazing leather goods and the amazing party that is part of the program which always includes good food. Tango Dancers, and wine.  Did I say wine?  Argentina does have some of the finest Malbec in the world and, again, the price is wonderful.

Oh yes, the Program.  Participants attend from all over South American, Central American, and Mexico.  Many have been coming for years and are expert Rorschachers.  Others are just learning the system and there are many in between.  While we present in English, there is a group of interpreters who do an excellent job.

We have jointly presented programs every two years since 2006.  Our next program will be in 2014.  We will meet from September 3 through September 6.  The presentation will be very similar to the program we just presented this year in Asheville, NC.  Irving Weiner will be joining us to present his development of the Rorschach Comprehensive System working with John Exner.  We will then present cases from a developmental perspective with child, adolescent, early adult, middle age adult and senior adult.  Each of these cases will be interpreted from a perspective of both the Rorschach findings and the work which occurs at the developmental stage of the client.  As more of us work with an aging population, these adult and senior cases will have increasing importance.

If you would like to attend the program at FERSiC International in Buenos Aires, Argentina contact Marta Medina at  You will learn a lot, make wonderful new friends from all over the southern hemisphere, will have a wonderful time eating, shopping, and did I mention the Malbec?

Coding Decisions for the Rorschach Comprehensive System

The idea for a new book on Coding the Comprehensive System was born in Buenos Aires in 2012.  At that time Irving Weiner, Barry Ritzler and I were presenting at the FERCiS International Conference.    During one of our many discussions we agreed that a new book which would update and expand on coding decisions would be a next logical addition to the writing that we have been doing at Rorschach Training Programs.  In 2006 Barry and I completed work on the first edition of The Little Book on Administration for the Rorschach Comprehensive System.   That book included a DVD which demonstrates two administrations, one with an adult and one with an adolescent.

In 2011 we completed work on The Interpretation Workbook for the Rorschach Comprehensive System.   That workbook provides students and practitioners with a guided learning opportunity for interpreting protocols with the Rorschach Comprehensive System.  It contains 32 actual protocols with true/false and multiple choice questions.  There is also an answer guide in the back of the book that not only provides users with the correct answers, but also provides them with why their wrong answers were wrong.

It has always been our belief that “garbage in, garbage out” pertains as much to the Rorschach as any other endeavor.  With that in mind we felt that clarifying how to code Rorschach protocols would be helpful.  While Dr. Exner has written on the coding used with the Comprehensive System, we believed it was appropriate to expand on his writing based on our years of teaching experience.  It is through our students’ questions that we realized more was required to help students understand coding decisions.  Coding Decisions for the Rorschach Comprehensive System (working title) presents a thorough and stepwise approach to coding.  Each chapter covers items to be coded beginning with Location Decisions to decisions regarding Special Scores.  In each chapter there is a definition of the variable to be coded, a brief explanation of the variable’s interpretative significance, and finally steps for making coding decisions for each of the variables.  There are numerous examples of coding decisions and why certain decisions are made.

We are almost finished with the first draft of the book and editing will begin in the next few weeks.  We hope to have the final product ready for printing in the first quarter of 2014.  We will keep you updated on our progress and how you can purchase when we go to publication.


There will be a  5 Day Beginning Program (Monday through Friday) at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT, June 23-27, 2014.

A second 5 Day Beginning Program is planned for Dallas, Texas, February 19-23, 2014.

This will be a Wednesday through Sunday Program to accommodate those who have limited time away during the work week.

We are considering a 2 Day Advanced Program on Forensics in mid August.  The faculty for this program would include Drs. Anthony Sciara and Anita Boss, both of whom are very experienced forensic psychologists.   Any Forensics Program, however, would be scheduled only if there is a strong indication of interest.   We would anticipate teaching the Program in Asheville, NC, in cooperation with Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in August. Online you can read the program description and click  to send an email regarding your interest.  Please let us know if you are interested so we might begin the planning process.


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Best Wishes for a Safe and Happy Holiday Season.