If you are casting a reality TV show or other form of factual entertainment production, we advise that potential contributors undergo a ‘Psychological Risk Assessment’ (an assessment of the potential for psychological harm to occur) or a ‘Fully Comprehensive Risk Assessment’ (which includes an assessment for other aspects of risk, such as physical safety, on location welfare and other medical needs, in addition to psychological safety), in order to safeguard your potential contributor’s welfare and reveal any specific needs or vulnerabilities that the potential participant may have, early on in the process.
At On Set Welfare, we follow the guidelines laid out by The British Psychological Society and ONLY use fully trained, appropriately qualified and vetted Chartered Psychologists and Media Psychology Specialists to carry out our ‘Psychological Risk Assessments’ with potential cast members. Furthermore, should any contributor require a further clinical assessment or examination, we ONLY use Clinical Psychologists for these, and if someone requires a psychiatric examination, we ONLY use Registered Psychiatrists for these.
Many people in the production industry, and in fact in general society, don’t know the differences between the various different types of Psychologist and what they are qualified or best-skilled to do, and they rarely know the difference between a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, a Counsellor, a Psychotherapist or an Occupational Therapist. You can read our useful guide HERE to find out what the differences are and who you need for the various different stages in production. We will also explain how we work with our assessments below:
The most basic type of psychological assessment for a potential TV show contributor is a Psychological Risk Assessment. These should be carried out by a Chartered Psychologist, and preferably a specialist in Media Psychology or Workplace/Occupational Psychology. A Psychological Risk Assessment consists of a session (usually one hour) with one of our Chartered Psychologists and the Psychologist will take a full history and look for signs of risk, vulnerability and any history of mental health difficulty. If any vulnerabilities or evidence of mental ill health are found during this assessment, a recommendation will be made for that contributor to go forwards for a full clinical ‘Fitness for Inclusion Assessment’ or a Psychiatric Assessment if the individual reports a psychiatric diagnoses or is taking any medication associated with psychological ill health.
Psychological Risk Assessments are commonly known and referred to in the TV and Film industries as ‘Psych Tests’ or sometimes even ‘Psych Chats’.When we carry out a Psychological Risk Assessment, we have a private one-to-one consultation with each potential contributor to be assessed. This can be carried out either remotely via Skype, Face Time or Whatsapp Video call, or in person, on set, on location, at your own production offices or at our own premises in Central London.
We use a standard format for our risk assessments to ensure that they are thorough and fully comprehensive, and we also add sections and elements to the assessment dependent on the unique features of your production format. This is one of the reasons we recommend that we conduct a Format Review prior to carrying out any assessments.
Following the assessment, we then provide your production executives with a full and detailed report, based on everything the contributor reported to us during their assessment and suitable for referring back to as needed. We also provide a shorter version, which we call an Executive Summary Report. This shorter version is specifically aimed at highlighting the main points and is suitable for guiding production executives and personnel in their decisions, using an easy to understand language, terminology and structured format.
On each Psychological Risk Assessment, we also provide a summary in which we employ a traffic light system to identify those contributors who have revealed minimal risk and those who we would classify as either ‘Amber’ (i.e. caution should be observed) or ‘Red Flagged’ where we have serious concerns.
We usually recommend that anyone classified as AMBER or RED undergoes further assessment or evaluation, and will advise on the type of assessment that is needed. For example, a full clinical assessment or psychiatric evaluation may be necessary. Please note: in some cases, the need for further assessment and/or clinical forms of assessment, may be indicated by the particular aspects of a planned format or production project, rather than by something revealed during the potential contributor’s risk assessment. This is why we always recommend that prior to casting, a full Format Review is conducted and a Psychological Risk Assessment is carried out on your format/script FIRST, before any assessments with contributors are carried out.
Our Psychological Risk Assessments result in one of three outcomes and come with detailed explanations regarding the evidence we have based our assessment on:
Different types of productions require different types of tests and some potential contributors may require more in-depth or even clinical or psychiatric assessments. We can advise you on exactly what your contributors need, depending on the particular features of your production, and we can also supply you with the most appropriately qualified and trained consultant according the type of assessment needed. In the best case scenario, before any psychological assessments are conducted, we would conduct a full Format Review to analyse and assess the risks and stress points inherent in the planned production and after participating in it. Once this has been conducted, the Format Review Report would be given to the Psychologist conducting the individual psychological risk or fitness for inclusion assessments so that they can fully understand exactly what is to be required of the contributor.
If a contributor has been identified as someone who could potentially be vulnerable, at risk, or if they have reported a previous history or current diagnosis of mental or physical ill health, then they should undergo a full clinical assessment. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘Fitness for Inclusion’ assessment because it is an assessment of the psychological fitness and health of an individual.
Depending on the potential vulnerabilities identified during a Psychological Risk Assessment, this next stage would usually be best carried out by a Clinical Psychologist with specialism in the area identified as potentially leading to vulnerability. For example, if someone told the Psychologist during their risk assessment that they had an eating disorder, a Clinical Psychologist who has experience and specialism in eating disorders would be the best professional for the full clinical assessment.
Sometimes, a contributor is identified as having a psychiatric condition for which they may be taking medication, during the Psychological Risk Assessment. In this case, a Psychiatrist would be the best consultant for the next stage. If someone has reported a physical health vulnerability, then a full medical examination by a qualified medical practitioner would be what was needed.
We would discuss with you our recommendations as what type of assessment is most appropriate and then arrange for the assessment to be undertaken with one of our pre-vetted and suitably qualified consultants. Please note, that in some cases, for a full clinical assessment to be completed it may be necessary for the potential contributor to consent to access to their medical records or a report from the potential contributor’s own General Practitioner may be requested. This can sometimes cause a delay in the casting process, therefore your Principal Consultant will discuss this with you and advise your production executives as to the risks and practicalities involved in proceeding with the contributor.
We provide the full range of psychological services needed to properly safeguard the welfare of everyone involved in your production. Perhaps you are making a Reality TV show? We can advise you on what you would need at every stage in production, and fully staff your welfare needs. Whether you need a Clinical Psychologist to conduct a clinical ‘fitness for inclusion’ assessment, a specialist Media or workplace Psychologist to work with your cast and crew on location, or a programme of aftercare for previous participants in your production, contact us to discuss how we can help.