Psychological Evaluations and Testing
Psychological evaluations are intended to provide a structured, organized, and succinct description of current psychological functioning including cognitive abilities and emotional experience. Psychological evaluation offers insight as to the severity of a particular disturbance and of the capacity for adequate functioning. It is a formal and structured way of gathering objective information about a person for the purpose of making decisions and sorting out questions about the particular child, adolescent, or adult. In addition, a psychological evaluation may be used to confirm or modify the impressions formed by referring therapists or educators through less structured interactions in therapy or in the classroom. A comprehensive evaluation can identify needs in therapy, highlight issues that may come up in treatment, recommend particular forms of intervention, and offer guidance about potential outcomes of treatment.
What is involved in a psychological evaluation?
A comprehensive psychological evaluation begins with a clinical interview, and then includes any number of psychological tests depending on the nature of the questions posed about the client. Testing generally takes several hours to complete and usually requires separate appointments. Psychological tests can include assessments of personality styles tests of emotional well-being, intellectual (or IQ) tests, tests of academic achievement, tests for possible neurological damage, and tests for specific psychological disturbances and their severity. The evaluation may also include interviews with significant others (such as parents, spouses, or teachers), as well as a review of past records and relevant documents. Finally, a formal integrated written report of findings is provided along with recommendations based on those findings; presented in a personal, interactive feedback meeting.
The use of psychological tests requires years of training that involves not only learning how to administer the tests, but also how to incorporate all the information from a variety of tests, background information, and interviews, with the clinical knowledge of theories, of research, of the nature of psychological problems, of personality styles, and of human development. Psychologists are the only mental health professionals who are fully trained and qualified to use psychological tests. It is the professional gathering and integration of all this material about a person that is the process of a psychological evaluation.