Adolescence

Adolescence is a period of biological, psychological and social change with major physical, intellectual and emotional consequences.

Adolescence changes

Among the most at risk, anxiety, depression, social phobia, delinquency, alcohol and drugs use tend to appear or get worse.  On the other hand, separation anxiety, specific phobias, ADHD and opposition tend to fade out or disappear.

Manifestations of depression and anxiety become more frequent among girls. Behavioral issues and substance use (alcohol, drugs) become more frequent among boys.

Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts increase beginning at age 12. Suicide is the second cause of death among young Quebecers aged 15 to 19. Ninety per cent of teenagers who complete suicide have a history of mental disorders.  Parents and teachers concentrate on behavioral issues and often they do not notice adolescents’ anxious/depressive tendencies.

Mental health professionals tend to be in Agreement with Adolescents

Professionals know the parent’s or the teacher’s point of view: it is the presenting problem, usually behavioral issues.  Dominic communicates the adolescent’s point of view, flagging emotional or affective problems adults missed.

As a preliminary tool, or at the beginning of the clinical interview, Dominic screens for most frequent mental health problems (anxiety, depression, behavioral and substance use issues, ADHD, borderline personality, suicidality) within 15 minutes.

The concept

Dominic is a standardized test similar to computer games teenagers are familiar with. This format is adapted to their cognitive limitations, allowing them to more easily express themselves than the traditional interview.

The adolescent

The computer game format fosters the expression of frustrations, aggression, fears, anxieties and sadness by the oppositional, the passive-aggressive and those who are very anxious or depressed.

Saving time

Dominic generally saves time with reluctant or oppositional teenagers. It is easier for them to respond to a computer, or elaborate on situations brought back on screen than to talk about their problems face to face.

Dominic respects the adolescent

The software puts the adolescent in a non-threatening environment. No direct questions are asked.  Positive situations from a Strengths and Competencies scale are combined with problematic or negative situations.

It takes development into account

The development of abstract thinking (formal operational stage) begins at around age 12, but there are major individual differences due to biological, social and cultural factors. To take into account these differences, Dominic only assesses symptoms.  Symptoms frequency, duration and severity are not evaluated.

The combination of stimuli (multimedia) causes a better understanding than single visual or auditory stimuli. Results of the interview are not based on the adolescent’s vocabulary.

Dominic is based on today’s standards for mental health assessment

Dominic is based on the DSM-V and the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).  These classifications establish a number of criteria per diagnosis.  This represents a compromise between traditional medical classifications (two categories: normal vs. pathological) and psychological classifications (dimensions ranging from 0% to 100%).

Results are easy to interpret

Dominic results are based on scores less severe than classifications’ criteria scores. Therefore, it signals “Tendencies” rather than diagnoses and adopts a semi-dimensional format that defines three groups (likely normal, dubious, likely pathological). The middle category takes into account the emotional ups and downs adolescents are prone to.

Results present a picture of the adolescent’s inner world based on his own reading.

Psychometric Properties are Satisfactory

Results from numerous scientific studies support the reliability and validity of Dominic (see Publications).

Limits

Dominic presents the same limitations as all the instruments assessing mental health in adolescents, as well as limitations of its own.