Psychological testing isn't like taking a multiple-choice exam that you either pass or fail. Rather, psychologists use information from the various tests and assessments to reach a specific diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
In many ways, psychological testing and assessment are similar to medical tests. If a patient has physical symptoms, a primary care provider may order X-rays or blood tests to understand what's causing those symptoms. The results of the tests will help inform develop a treatment plan.
Psychological evaluations serve the same purpose. Psychologists use tests and other assessment tools to measure and observe a client's behavior to arrive at a diagnosis and guide treatment.
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.
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.
The underlying cause of a person's problems isn't always clear. For example, if a child is having trouble in school, does he or she have a reading problem such as dyslexia? An attention problem such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Difficulty with impulse control? 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.
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