There are many types of electronic or automotive tools that can help diagnose a problem, such as a volt-ohmmeter or an OBD scanner. There are different tools to help fix a problem, such as a soldering iron or a torque wrench.

The field of psychology has diagnostic instruments as well, such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test.

Is there a word for a psychological instrument that not only diagnoses, but can help a subject improve? I was thinking of

a ?proscriptive instrument

(EDIT: Proscriptive is close wrong. A proscriptive tool would be a forbidden one.)

Here is an example. The Myers-Briggs personality inventory is a diagnostic test that will categorize you as, say, an Extroverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (ENTP) person. You may also use the results of the inventory as a _ (fill in the blank) tool to help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses (example) and work better with others.

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    I don't really see how these "tools" are anything more than "diagnostic". It just so happens that with some diagnoses, it's obvious what you need to do to "fix" a problem. With others, you may need a specialist to interpret the results and either propose action, or derive a prognosis. Your final example is just a specialised case of the former, in that you may choose to modify your behaviour and/or thinking, even though without expert assistance doing so may not necessarily "improve" anything. Sep 2, 2011 at 17:16
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    All diagnostics help a subject improve. Just because the diagnoses are helpful toward improvement doesn't make them anything more than diagnoses.
    – Daniel
    Sep 2, 2011 at 17:34
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    I propose "psychiatrist".
    – Daniel
    Sep 2, 2011 at 17:38
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    @drɱ65 δ , I respectfully disagree. A DSM-IV diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia does not help the subject improve at all. It may, however, help the psychiatrist to prescribe a better medication.
    – rajah9
    Sep 2, 2011 at 17:39
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    "Proscriptive" is an already existing word, and it means "prohibiting", i.e., to "proscribe" is to "forbid": merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proscription. "Prognostic" is probably the best bet, if "diagnostic" doesn't work. Sep 2, 2011 at 17:47

5 Answers 5


You could recast the phrase to be something like

This tool is useful for both diagnosing and treating.

But if you want an adjective, you could use

This tool is both diagnostic and therapeutic.

  • Yes, I like the sense of therapeutic. A therapeutic tool might help the subject to get better. It has a better register than a "healing" tool.
    – rajah9
    Sep 5, 2011 at 13:28

There is no technical word for this, as far as I can tell, but there are words that closely approach this concept. Ameliorative could work; it's the adjective form of ameliorate:

to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve

Resolutive, for if there is a problem to remove:

1. having the ability to dissolve or terminate.
2. serving to resolve or dispel.

So you could call it a resolutive psychological tool, or an ameliorative psychological tool. Searching synonyms might help, if you'd like to browse alternatives.

If you find that no single word will answer, you could consider lengthening the description of the tool in order to be more accurate:

The Myers-Briggs personality inventory is a psychological diagnostic test which serves to suggest possible means of personal improvement in the individual undergoing the test.


try prescriptive

pertaining to giving directives or rules

  • Yes, a prescriptive tool might give the diagnostician a direction and sense of the steps that must be taken.
    – rajah9
    Sep 5, 2011 at 13:26

The sentence is just fine the way it stands, actually; no modifier is needed, "tool" is adequate, and further elaborating on it is not only unnecessary, but would likely distort the meaning. In cases like this, simpler is almost always better.

If you're intending to use it someplace else, then perhaps you can show us a better example of what you mean?


In the tradition of audio-visual, how about diagnostic-prescriptive?

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