Psychological testing sounds intimidating, especially if it has been suggested for your child or other family member. Sure, you know that everyone has flaws and personality quirks, but accepting that someone wants to take a close look at your internal makeup, at how you think about and handle things, well, that can be too close for comfort.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve wondered if this type of testing could help you put a finger on how your child learns, or why they struggle. What if it could help them have an easier time in school? What if it could help you as a parent, to help you understand why they react the way they do, and how you could better deal with it?
They are Medical Tests
Psychological testing is very similar to, and just as important, as medical tests, such as x-rays or blood tests. Just as your primary care doctor would use those tests to put together a treatment plan to help you feel better, psychologists do the same to help a wide range of problems.
They can help to diagnose and treat: depression, ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, cognitive or developmental delay, anxiety, behavior problems, impulsivity/poor judgment/struggles making positive choices, memory problems, sensory over or under-sensitivity, Dyslexia, executive functioning difficulties, vocational problems, communication disorders, dementia, memory problems, learning and academic problems, visual and auditory learning disorders, and giftedness.
“Psychologists administer tests and assessments for a wide variety of reasons. Children who are experiencing difficulty in school, for example, may undergo aptitude testing or tests for learning disabilities. Tests for skills such as dexterity, reaction time and memory can help a neuropsychologist diagnose conditions such as brain injuries or dementia,” says the American Psychological Association (APA).
“If a person is having problems at work or school, or in personal relationships, tests can help a psychologist understand whether he or she might have issues with anger management or interpersonal skills, or certain personality traits that contribute to the problem. Other tests evaluate whether clients are experiencing emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression.”
Testing and Assessments
Testing and assessments are different types of tools psychologists use to evaluate their patient, to decide upon a diagnosis, and to develop a treatment plan.
At LifeStance Health, the testing process begins with a clinical interview to obtain relevant background information (e.g. family background, social relationships, medical/developmental/mental health history, school history, work history, and overall presenting concerns). Once the testing intake is complete, face-to-face testing sessions typically take place anywhere from four to six hours. Psychological and Neuropsychological tests collectively include assessments that measure intellectual functioning (e.g. intellectual disability and giftedness), attention and executive functioning (e.g. ADHD), achievement abilities (e.g. learning disorders and giftedness), memory and learning abilities (e.g. dementia), behavior concerns (e.g. Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder), reality testing and psychological disturbances (e.g. Schizophrenia), and social-emotional functioning (e.g. personality disorders, anxiety, and depression). Additionally, LifeStance Health Clinical Services offers in-depth evaluations for Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as by utilizing the gold standard for measuring Autism with the ADOS-2. Lastly, LifeStance Health also assesses clients who are nonverbal, as young as three-years-old.
Once the evaluation is scored and written, which also typically occurs anywhere from four to six hours, a testing feedback is conducted. During the testing feedback, the psychologist provides the client/client’s parents an overview of the evaluation, the appropriate diagnosis, and recommendations to aid in the client’s optimal well-being. LifeStance Health’s psychologists also take proper care of the client by forwarding the evaluation with the clients’ permission to other mental health and medical providers (e.g. pediatrician, primary care physician, psychiatrist, guidance counselor, and therapist) to ensure continued care and management.
Everyone is Different
Just as each person is different, each assessment is as well. They are custom fit to each individual and their needs. This also ensures that any treatment that is recommended is also customized for that person’s needs.
If you or a family member has been recommended for evaluation. Don’t try to “beat” the tests. The APA cautions, “Some people are tempted to peek at the tests ahead of time. If they suspect they may have a particular problem, they may look online for a practice test of that problem. That’s a bad idea, experts say. In fact, practicing ahead of time usually backfires — when you try to take the test in a certain way, the answers may be inconsistent and make you appear to have more problems than you actually do.”
The best thing you can do is find a licensed clinical psychologist that you trust. Then be yourself, answer their questions honestly, and trust them to help you appropriately.
At LifeStance Health, we have been committed to creating an agency our community can trust and know they can find the individualized support they need. Our clinical staff highlights our diverse skills and specialties as well as our ability to provide guidance and insight across an array of important issues that may be touching your life. Please call us to set up an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you and assisting in any way we can.