What to Expect
What can an Adult expect the day of testing?
Most likely your counselor or medical professional has referred you for testing. The goal of testing is typically to establish or clarify your diagnosis in order to provide you with the most appropriate supports and treatment available.
A family member or loved one may be asked to accompany you during a psychological evaluation. They can provide insights, observations, and perspectives helping the psychologist assess your current strengths and needs.
Be ready to share any medical issues you are experiencing. Know all medications and supplements you take, including recreational drugs. This helps the psychologist to rule out physical health problems, medication side effects, and issues with drug interactions.
Make a list of questions and concerns for the clinician. During an appointment, it’s easy to forget your questions. By writing your questions down ahead of time, you will remember and have the confidence to ask important questions during the psychological evaluation.
The tests that are administered can vary based on need, but most of them will be done on tablets. Sometimes you will work independently and other times the psychologist will work with you. It is important to be honest in order to get the best results.
Thinking about a psychological assessment could cause you to experience a variety of emotions. Depending on the reasons for a psychological evaluation, you may feel resentful, hostile, afraid, or anxious. While some people look forward to gaining an understanding of their symptoms and finally having answers !
These are all common reactions to someone evaluating how you think and feel. Remember, we, are here to help you work through concerns, not judge you.
We have light snacks and water if needed, but try to eat before your appointment. Bring your glasses if needed and most of all please know that your appointment should not be stressful. We are here to help and will do our best to make your experience a pleasant one.
What should I tell my child to prepare them for psychological assessment?
Children sometimes think that visits to a doctor will involve shots. It is important to reassure your child that no shots or painful procedures will be involved in the visit to the psychologist. For school age children, you can share that it is not “testing” like in school, they will not get a score and they can’t do “good or bad”.
Let your child know that they will be doing many different activities. Some activities involve listening and talking, while other activities involve looking at pictures, building things, and drawing. Best of all, most activities are done on tablets!!
Parents are not typically allowed to be present during testing. Let your child know that you will be close by while they work with the psychologist. Reassure your child that they can have breaks to use the bathroom and to eat lunch.
Try to make sure your child is well rested and has eaten prior to testing. You may give your child their medications, but remember to let the psychologist know that your child has taken their medications prior to testing.
We want the experience to be pleasant and fun. We have healthy snacks and water on hand. For preschool children, you can describe psychological assessment as playing games involving listening, talking, and remembering. Let the child know that the psychologist will have toys like blocks and puzzles that they will get to use.
Your preschool child may wish to bring a toy along to the appointment. Try to choose an object that will not be too distracting for the child (e.g. a small stuffed animal as opposed to an action figure or toy with many small parts).
You can help your child get ready for the assessment by making sure that they get a good nights sleep prior to testing. Make sure that your child has eaten so that them will not be hungry during testing. Make the assessment day a special day for your child by leaving brothers and/or sisters at home, if possible.
The adult accompanying the child will be answering questionnaires as well, so please make sure to bring your glasses (and your child’s glasses) if needed.
Reassure your child that the process will not be hard or stressful- most kids actually say they had a good time !
Types of Tests
The clinical interview is a core component of any psychological testing. Some people know the clinical interview as an “intake interview”, “admission interview” or “diagnostic interview” (although technically these are often very different things). The clinical interview is an opportunity for the professional to gather important background and family data about the person. Think of it as an information-gathering session for the professional’s benefit, and ultimately for your benefit. Be prepared to share any information that will be helpful in the diagnostic process.
Some components of the clinical interview have now become computerized, meaning you will answer a series of questions on a computer in the office. This is most often done for basic demographic information, but can also include structured diagnostic interview questions to help the clinician formulate an initial diagnostic impression.
Before any formal psychological testing is done, a clinical interview is nearly always conducted (even if the person has already gone through one with a different professional). Psychologists conducting the testing will often want to form their own clinical impressions, which can be best done through a direct interview with the person.
Assessment of Intellectual Functioning (IQ)
Your IQ intellectual quotient is a theoretical construct of a measure of general intelligence. It’s important to note that IQ tests do not measure actual intelligence — they measure what we believe might be important components of intelligence.
There are two primary measures used to test a person’s intellectual functions — intelligence tests and neuropsychological assessment. Intelligence tests are the more common type administered and include the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler scales.
IQ tests are especially designed and catered for different age groups. Preschoolers can be administered the Wechler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence—Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV), while children aged 6 to 16, can be administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Fifth Edition (WISC-V). The most commonly administered IQ test for adults is called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). It generally takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to administer these tests.
Measuring IQ isn’t just answering questions about information or vocabulary. Because some of the subtests require physical manipulation of objects, the Wechsler is tapping into many different components of a person’s brain and thought processes (including the creative). For this reason and others, online IQ tests are not equivalent to real IQ tests given by a psychologist
There are many different types of personality tests. The most common type is the self-report inventory, also commonly referred to as objective personality tests. Self-report inventory tests involve the administration of many questions/items to test-takers who respond by rating the degree to which each item reflects their behavior and can be scored objectively. The term ‘item’ is used because many test questions are not actually questions; they are typically statements on questionnaires that allow respondents to indicate level of agreement.
A sample item on a personality test, for example, might ask test-takers to rate the degree to which they agree with the statement “I talk to a lot of different people at parties” by using a scale of 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”). The most widely used objective test of personality is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which was originally designed to distinguish individuals with different psychological problems. Since then, it has become popular as a means of attempting to identify personality characteristics of people in many every-day settings. In addition to self-report inventories, there are many other methods for assessing personality, including observational measures, peer-report studies, and projective tests.
Behavioral & Emotional Testing
Emotional, Behavioral and Personality Testing are evaluations for individuals of all ages. This type of testing is to help determine the presence and severity of emotional problems like Depression and Bipolar Disorder; anxiety-related problems like Phobias, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Separation Anxiety Disorder; overt behavioral problems like Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder, and Reactive Attachment Disorder; and other serious mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Delusional Disorder, and Dissociative Disorder. Testing will also help diagnose and understand the nature of illnesses such as Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Antisocial Personality Disorders.
Personality testing refers to techniques that are used to accurately and consistently measure personality. Self-report inventories involve having test-takers read questions and then rate how well the question or statement applies to them. Some of the most common self-report inventories are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI and the PAI, Personality Assessment Inventory.
Projective tests involve presenting the test-taker with a vague scene, object, or scenario and then asking them to give their interpretation of the test item. One well-known example of a projective test is the Rorschach Inkblot Test.