When you get sick or feel an out-of-the-ordinary pain, one of the first things you do is make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions and run tests to figure out why you’re not feeling well – and how best to treat you.
Psychological assessments or evaluations work in much the same way. If you’re feeling off, or if you’ve noticed your child or loved one behaving out-of-the-ordinary, a psych assessment will help determine what’s causing the problem – and how to treat it.
What Is a Psychological Assessment?
A psych assessment is a process performed by a licensed and trained psychologist to find the answer to these three questions:
- What is going on?
- Why is it happening?
- What can we do about it?
The reason for a psychologist to perform an assessment is simple: to gain information about the person being tested. The information gathered will help inform a treatment plan to get that person the help they need.
How an Assessment is Completed
Assessments, or evaluations, are performed in a few different ways: using formal, written (norm-referenced) tests, clinical interviews (with the affected individual and/or those around them), behavioral observations, and informal tests or surveys.
Standardized tests are often given in order to find out where an individual falls within a predetermined scale, which gives psychologists a way to compare results among the standard population.
For example, for a child who is being tested for reading difficulties, tests would be given to see how well they read, or to what grade level.
Interviews are exactly what they sound like. A mental health professional will talk to the person who is being evaluated, as well as others who have either witnessed, or been affected by, that person’s behavior. This part of assessment is less structured and more anecdotal, allowing those being interviewed to use their own words rather than choosing from predetermined answers.
For example, if an adult is the subject of an assessment, the assessor might also interview their family or coworkers (with their written permission, of course). Or for a child, their teacher.
An interview also allows the psychologist to ask questions and see how the individual thinks, reasons, and reacts.
During an observation, the psychologist observes the individual in their natural setting. This type of assessment often applies to children, to see how they behave in school, around their friends, or at home with siblings.
Informal Tests & Surveys
These types of assessments can include things like career testing, projective tests, or even something created by a teacher. While they provide valuable information, informal tests do provide less scientific validity than standardized, norm-referenced tests.
Right Treatment for the Right Problem
Once a psychological assessment has been completed, you’ll have a better understanding about what’s going on with you or your loved one – and what your treatment options are.
Remember, the goal of an assessment is to understand what underlying issue is causing your symptoms, and then coming up with a plan to treat that issue.
There may be times when more information is needed – your psychologist might request a physical or some other medical tests – before a diagnosis can be made. In the end, you and your psychologist will work together to come up with the best options for you.
How It Works
This initial interview will provide us with important background information, as well as details about your symptoms. It also gives us context for your test results and helps us understand you as a whole person.
Series of Tests
What we learn during the intake interview will determine which tests we think will provide the best information. In general, these tests can take anywhere from two to eight hours. We are super flexible when it comes to taking tests, and will always work with you and your schedule to make it as comfortable and easy as possible.
Once all the testing is complete, we’ll invite you to return for a feedback session where your psychologist will go over the results, and provide you with a written report about their findings. The report will also include practical and relevant recommendations for how to move forward with treatment.
Schedule An Assessment
If you, a loved one, or your child are in need of a professional psychological assessment, we’re here to help. Our experienced and knowledgeable team will work with you to figure out what’s going and the best way to help you get back on track and feeling better.