Psychological Testing

What is Psychological Testing?

Psychologists utilize a variety of objective and subjective measures known as tests and assessment tools as a way to measure, observe, and understand someone’s behavior. The results of these tests are used to guide diagnosis, treatment for the client.

Psychologists would administer tests and assessments for a wide variety of reasons. For example, children who may be experiencing difficulty at school may undergo testing for learning disabilities to better understand their strengths and weakenesses and have the opportunity of receiving special education services to help guide them in the school setting. Other tests may evaluate an individuals social-emotional functioning by evaluationg whether or not the client is experiencing a variety of emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression that may lead them to feeling un-balanced or experience negative symptoms.

For example, a child who is having trouble in school- Does he or she have a reading problem? An attention problem? Difficulty with social skills? Impulse control? Slow processing speed?

Because the underlying cause of a person’s problem isn’t always clear, psychological tests and assessments allow a psychologist to understand the nature of the problem in greater depths, and to figure out the best approach in addressing and treating the problem.

Below are examples of specific assessments:

ADHD Assessments:

Assessing ADHD in youth and adults involves a comprehensive battery of tests and assessments that will establish the presence of ADHD in more than one setting. A comprehensive clinical interview, collateral interviews as well as specific neuropsychological testing is required. During the assessment, it is crucial that the clinician is also checking for anxiety, oppositional behaviors, depression, as well as other disorders that may be similar in their symptomology to ADHD in order to provide the most accurate diagnosis and rule out disorders that are not present.

Learning Disability Assessments:

A learning disability assessment is conducted in order to gain knowledge about an individual ability to learn specific information and their personalized approach to learning. The psychological battery includes measuring intelligence, academic functioning, achievement, learning and memory skills, executive functioning such as attention abilities, visual-motor ability, and adaptive functioning.

Mental Health Assessments:

Mental health assessments are typically conducted for a variety of reasons as a way to assess an individual’s mental health functioning. The assessment involves psychological testing along with in-depth clinical interviews. In some cases, direct clinical observations are required. These assessments are conducted for various diagnostic purposes including but not limited to Anxiety disorders, Schizophrenia, Depression, Trauma related disorders, and Bipolar disorders.

A mental health assessment allows for a clear diagnostic picture, an understanding of the clients symptomology and
leads to better treatment. A mental health assessment may be utilized in various settings as a way to gain accommodations in places including:
– Academic Settings (school districts, universities, community colleges, private schools)
– Places of Employment
– Testing Centers
– Legal/Court Settings

Intelligence Testing:

Intelligence testing is considered the most widely used psychological instrument. It is a standardized procedure that measures an individual’s intellectual potential. The assessment utilizes various stimuli specifically designed to establish an individualized score based on the person’s responses. During the assessment, an individual will be asked to conduct a number of different tasks including having to answer specific questions verbally, doing mathematical problems, tasks that involve eye-hand coordination, as well as tasks that are timed that require an individual to work as quickly as possible. An IQ test may be the first step in understanding various presentations of human behavior and in diagnosing intellectual issues. Intelligence tests are also a great predictor of academic achievement and a presentation of an individual’s mental strengths and weaknesses. The results of the assessment are used to better the academic setting by improving educational opportunities for the individual. The final scores and recommendations are utilized by parents, teachers and psychologists to devise a more individualized education plan that matches the individual’s level of development and functioning.

Personality Assessments:

Personality assessments are commonly used for different purposes including:
– Screening job candidates
– Diagnosing psychological problems and disorders
– Evaluating changes in personality and functioning
– To evaluate the effectiveness of therapy
– Risk assessments
– Establish competence
– Child custody disputes

Personality is viewed as a trait and is often referred to when we discuss ourselves and our different characteristics. A personality assessment is a technique used to accurately assess an individual’s personality in a more systemic, accurate, scientific and consistent measure.

Functional Behavior Assessments:

A functional behavior assessment is viewed as a problem-solving process to address an individual’s problem behavior. This type of assessment is commonly used in school settings in order to aid the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team to select specific interventions to directly address the problematic behaviors observed.
The focus of the assessment is to understand the individual’s behavior, identify the various and multiple factors that may be associated with the specific behaviors, the function and purpose of the behavior, and to produce specific recommendations and interventions to be implemented in order to extinguish the problematic behavior.
The functional assessment generally involves direct observational data collection of the individual across different settings (structured and unstructured) as well as in-depth collateral interviews with the individual, parents, teachers and other significant personal. A functional behavior report is then generated, and is discussed with appropriate individuals during a scheduled feedback session.

Understanding “why” an individual behaves in a certain manner is crucial in addressing the behavior appropriately and understanding the problem behavior accurately.