What is psychological assessment?Jennifer Sumner, PhD

A psychological assessment uses standardized measures to evaluate an individual’s emotional, behavioral, and/or cognitive functioning compared to a normative group (e.g. age and/or gender-based peers). Licensed clinical psychologists are uniquely trained in formal psychological assessment methods that allow for a deeper understanding of issues and concerns from multiple perspectives.

How does it work?

Psychological assessments vary depending on the referral questions and patient needs. An evaluation can range from one hour to eight hours depending on the complexity of the case. Regardless of the measures used or the length of testing, each assessment follows a general pattern.

  1. The psychologist reviews records from the referring provider and/or organization.
  2. A detailed interview is conducted to better understand the patient’s history.
  3. A variety of tests and assessment tools are administered to measure and observe emotional, behavioral, and/or cognitive functioning.
  4. Test and assessment results are scored and interpreted by the psychologist.
  5. The psychologist writes a report summarizing the results and includes recommendations.
  6. The psychologist meets with the patient to provide feedback.

What Types of Assessments Do We Provide?

There are different types of evaluations that can be pursued, depending on the purpose of the testing.

  1. Neuropsychological Assessment – Neuropsychological evaluations focus on cognitive, emotional, and behavioral manifestations of brain disease, injury, and dysfunction. Detailed measures of cognitive functioning include general intellect, executive functioning (i.e., planning, organization, inhibition, and problem solving), processing speed, attention, learning, memory, language, visuospatial skills, and motor speed and dexterity. Many neurological and psychological conditions can result in changes to cognitive function.
  2. Personality – Assessments of personality are designed to measure strengths and weaknesses within an individual’s personality. Objective measures evaluate such topics as emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, social introversion, depression, psychopathology, schizophrenia, hypomania, and more.
  3. Intellectual Functioning – IQ testing is used to measure important components of intelligence. Areas of testing include verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.
  4. Mental Health Diagnoses –Psychological assessment data can be used to determine if the pattern of symptoms the patient presents with is consistent with the diagnostic criteria for a specific mental disorder classified in the DSM-5 or the ICD-10.
  5. Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Adult ADHD assessments provide diagnostic clarification for individuals who were not diagnosed as a child, but feel that they have had lifelong symptoms that continue through adulthood.

What Are the Benefits of Psychological Assessment?

  1. 1. To define cognitive and/or emotional strengths and weaknesses.
  2. To help with diagnoses.
  3. To establish a baseline of functioning.
  4. To track cognitive or emotional change over time.
  5. To help with recommendations for mental health treatment.
  6. To help guide referrals to specialists.
  7. To tailor specific cognitive rehabilitation strategies.
  8. To assess fitness for work, educational placement, or intellectual disability.
  9. To identify pre-surgical or post-surgical risk factors for complications.
  10. To monitor outcomes of pharmacologic and behavioral treatments.

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