The purpose of a psychological evaluation is to better understand your behaviors and mental health.
- A psychological evaluation involves you meeting with a psychologist for some hours to complete a set of procedures:
- Some activities may seem more school related (spelling, reading, writing, etc.)
- Others may include drawings, filling out questionnaires etc.
- You will be asked very detailed question about your strengths and symptoms
- Often mental health professionals (therapist, psychiatrist) request a psychological evaluation to help them better understand the areas you need help in.
- Similar to an x-ray or labs that a medical doctor would order.
- They want to make sure you are receiving treatment for all the areas you need support in.
- This helps the professionals make better decisions for your treatment.
A psychological assessment is appropriate in a number of circumstances.
- To evaluate a person who may have a difficulties with cognition (thinking) due to an organic brain problem, current or previous substance abuse, or an ongoing medical problem.
- To evaluate a person who may have a psychological problem that is undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or mismanaged.
- To serve as a guide in treatment planning or to guide recommendations as to placement in a specific treatment center or in deciding what treatment modality is most appropriate (e.g. residential versus outpatient or behavioral intervention versus an exploratory approach).
- To evaluate a person with a learning disability such as Attention Deficit (ADD) Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), Visual Processing Disorder, Non-verbal learning disorder, Autism, or Sensory Integration Disorder (Dyspraxia). This may be necessary to obtain special considerations for school or test-taking.
- To evaluate behavioral problems that may be adversely affecting school or work functioning.
- Intelligence testing such as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores for evaluation for gifted/advanced coursework or special education curricula.
- To evaluate a person’s current status, social functioning, use of medications and psychoactive substances.
- To evaluate applicants for specific jobs that require evaluation of psychological health and cognitive functioning.
Psychological testing can:
- Provide a measure of intellectual functioning and potential.
- Identify learning styles and/or learning disorders.
- Clarify diagnosis when complex symptoms and behaviors are present.
- Assess for giftedness, developmental delays or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Identify underlying factors that may be impacting one’s interpersonal relationships, motivation, functioning at school or work, social-emotional functioning or challenges managing impulses and behavior.
Before beginning the psychological evaluation, it’s recommended that you rule out all medical or physical factors that may be affecting you (or your child). For example, you should have your vision and hearing tested if there is an indication that this could be part of the problem.
Remember, this isn’t a test for which you study…it’s an evaluation of where you are now. That said, there are things that can help you feel more relaxed as you begin the process.
Never underestimate that you are the expert on you and/or your child. While the examiner will focus on providing the best possible assessment, the information that you provide is equally important. You can best participate in the testing process by offering insight, honesty and your best effort throughout. Outlining specific concerns prior to testing will aid in the assessment process.
- If you (or your child) take medication, make sure that it has been taken according to instructions on the day of testing. If you (or your child) have not taken them as prescribed, please tell us.
- If your (or your child’s) physical condition or emotional state is somehow compromised on the day of testing, please inform the examiner. For example: feeling under the weather; taking medication that would make one drowsy; a poor night’s sleep prior; a death in the family, etc. These types of things can affect performance on some of the tests used for psychological evaluations.
- A good night’s sleep prior to testing. Being sleepy during testing can affect overall concentration on timed tasks in particular.
- Eat well before testing. It is also fine to bring a snack if testing is going to last for a prolonged period of time.
- Take breaks when offered and ask for breaks if needed. Testing can feel tiresome. We will offer scheduled breaks during long appointments. Breaks are a good time to eat a snack, use the restroom, or, for children, spend time playing with a favorite game or toy.
The testing process can take anywhere from 4-12 hours, which may occur over several sessions. Many people feel tired after testing and need time to rest. For both of these reasons, you may have to miss work or school in order to complete testing or you may want to adjust your schedule to allow for resting after the exam.
Our team will analyze the data and write a comprehensive psychological summary and/or report. We will create a well-integrated explanation of results and develop individualized recommendations.
Typically, reports include:
- A list of tests administered
- The reason for testing
- Pertinent background information
- Behavioral observations
- School observation, when indicated
- Test scores
- Interpretation of test scores
- Diagnostic impressions (if applicable)
Once the report is complete, we will schedule a feedback session with you, during which we will review the final report and answer any of your questions.
Depending on the reason for testing, with your permission, we will sometimes meet with others, such as school officials or treatment providers, to review the report as well.
Many children may wonder why they are having these tests and if there is something wrong with them. Listen to your child’s concerns and feelings about the evaluation and answer your child’s questions as straightforwardly as possible. It is helpful to be reassuring to your child.
Most importantly, the goal in preparation is to help your child be as comfortable, relaxed and motivated as possible the day of testing. In explaining to your child why he/she is being tested:
- Emphasize that the testing is not because the child has been bad.
- Offer reassurance that the information gathered from the evaluation will help you and other people better understand his/her experiences, what kinds of things he/she has been having trouble with and what types of things he or she is really good or not so good at doing.
- Explain that psychological testing is not unusual and other children participate in testing, too.
Proper preparation will help your child do his/her best, allow for a pleasant testing experience and help the examiner gather the most reliable results possible.