Psychological Assessment

Understanding Psychological Assessment

Why should I (or my child) have it? If you or a family member has been referred for psychological testing, you probably have some questions about what to expect. Or you may have heard about psychological testing and wonder if you or a family member should be tested. Psychological testing may sound intimidating, but it’s designed to help you. Psychologists administer tests and assessments for a wide variety of reasons.

Psychological tests and assessments allow a psychologist to understand the nature of the problem, and to figure out the best way to go about addressing it. It can be used for clinical diagnosis, brain/cognitive functioning, and academic achievement. It can also give your doctors a base-line of current functioning to better monitor your progress over time.

What will it be like? Psychological testing isn’t like taking a multiple-choice exam that you either pass or fail. A psychological assessment can include numerous components such as norm-referenced psychological tests, informal tests and surveys, interview information, school or medical records, medical evaluation and behavior observation. Psychologists pick and choose a specific set of assessments and tests for each individual client based on the specific questions being asked.

On the day of testing you will work one-on-one with the psychologist or testing technician for some parts of the evaluation. Other times you may be asked to complete forms on your own in a private room. The psychologist will explain testing procedures to you, but feel free to ask questions if you are confused. On occasion the full testing battery cannot be completed in one session and you will be asked to return at a later date. Due to copyright laws, most tests must be taken in our office and cannot be taken home.

We encourage clients to come to testing sessions well-rested and fed. You may have a drink in session, but refrain from eating during the battery. You will be allowed to take breaks as necessary. Depending on the nature of the evaluation, testing can take 1 to 5 or more hours. Your psychologist will advise you on the approximate duration before your appointment. Children under 13 must have an adult remain in the waiting room during the testing session. Parents may drop off a child 13 – 18 years old and return at the end of the test. Often people report that they are mentally tired after taking these tests.

Will my insurance cover the testing? Many insurance plans cover psychological testing. Some require prior authorization, and our administrative team will make sure it is obtained before your appointment. Some issues, such as academic problems, are not covered by insurance companies. If those specific tests are needed, the out-of-pocket expense will be discussed with you beforehand and will be due on the day of testing.

For more information on psychological testing and assessment, consult with the American Psychological Association’s Help Center.