What is a Psychological Evaluation?
Often symptoms associated with a mental health disorder are obvious (e.g., academic failure, anxiety, sadness, confusion, anger, etc) but the cause of the problem is not always clear. A psychological evaluation consists of a series of tests that help determine the likely cause of symptoms and disorders. These causes typically lead to a diagnosis, which is used by doctors and counselors to follow up with appropriate recommendations and treatment. Effective psychological treatment requires competent and comprehensive assessment and diagnosis.
What Should I Expect?
Typically, patients are referred for testing by their physician, counselor or school. An initial appointment is scheduled during which intake paperwork is completed and a clinical interview is conducted. Subsequent testing sessions are then scheduled. It may take up to several hours or more than one visit with an examiner to complete in-depth psychological testing. Patients may take a series of standardized written tests including questionnaires, ability ranking lists, surveys and checklists. Patients also participate in face-to-face testing where they are asked to complete a variety of tasks, answer questions and interact with the examiner. Psychological tests are not the type of tests one can, or should, prepare for. The examiner uses the information from the tests and interviews to write up an overall evaluation, determine a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan, providing referrals as necessary.
It is important to remember that assessment is dynamic and still evolving. Evaluations are not meant to pigeon-hole a person for life. Evaluations are but one peice of a big puzzle that describes a person at a certain moment in time.
We offer a variety of evaluations, including:
- ADHD for Children & Adults
Psychological Evaluations Include:
- A comprehensive battery of tests relevant to “rule-outs”.
- A presentation of the data specific to the patient.
- A synthesis and analysis of all data and how the data fit together to capture the patient’s strengths as well as weaknesses.
- A report that is useable. It should be a ‘road map’ for practitioners to design and develop appropriate interventions, treatment plans and goals.
A mental health professional with advanced training in test administration and interpretation is qualified to perform psychological evaluations. A skilled examiner will analyze and synthesize all of the data gathered from a battery of tests and series of interviews to capture an individual’s unique way of experiencing the world. There are commonalities or “norms” of human behavior and emotions. Each individual, however, will have a particular constellation or pattern of characteristics that uniquely describe that person.
Psychological evaluations are always meant to answer specific questions. These questions are referred to by psychologists as “rule-outs”. For example, if a person is exhibiting chronic mental “fogginess”, heightened distractibility and poor decision making, we want to know the underlying cause. We strive to determine if there is a cognitive impairment, attention issue, significant anxiety or a combination of all three.