What are psychological assessments?
Psychological assessments, also called psychological evaluations, are an intensive service provided by psychologists to determine whether a specific diagnosis or concern is present. Psychological assessments use formal testing followed by a report and recommendations for treatment.
What psychological assessments do you provide? We provide psychological assessments for:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, formerly called ADD or Adult ADD)
- Learning Disorders including Dyslexia/Disorder of Written Expression, Math Disorder, and Reading Disorder
- Giftedness/IQ (Intelligence and Academic Performance testing)
- General Mental Health including Mood Disorders such as Bipolar Disorder
When are psychological assessments necessary?
Some diagnoses such as Learning Disorders require formal testing and a report to have an accurate diagnosis. We cannot tell from a therapy session alone whether someone has a learning disorder. Some diagnoses that are most appropriate for psychological assessment include:
- Learning Disorders (Reading Disorder, Math Disorder, Disorder of Written Expression/Dyslexia)
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, formerly called ADD)
- Other concerns such as mood disorders like Bipolar and general mental health concerns
What happens during a psychological assessment? Psychological assessments are composed of several parts.
- Diagnostic Interview: First, you will meet for a complete diagnostic interview. This is a structured interview that allows me to take a complete history and informs what tests we need to administer. During this interview, you get to discuss the things that are bothering you (symptoms). For example, if you are being assessed for ADHD, you will have the opportunity to talk about difficulties with concentration.
- Testing sessions. During testing sessions, you will complete a test, much like you did when you were a student in school. The types of tests that we administer depend highly on each individual’s concerns. For example, you might take an IQ test as part of a learning disorder assessment.
- Feedback session and written report: The last time we meet, you will receive a formal, written report, usually 10-20 pages in length. The report summarizes what we discussed in the diagnostic interview and the test results from the tests you took during the testing sessions. The report will also provide you with formal diagnoses, if they are appropriate. Most importantly, the report includes complete treatment recommendations so you will have a plan to address your concerns. For example, if you are diagnosed with ADHD, you will have a complete list of things you can do to help yourself. Treatment recommendations are written for each individual and are highly tailored to you needs.
Why are psychological assessments beneficial?
Some diagnoses require that you complete a psychological assessment to be correctly diagnosed. Moreover, if you have ADHD and/or a Learning Disorder or another mental health diagnosis that would negative affect your ability to perform in the workplace or educational setting, a psychological assessment can provide you with recommendations to help you succeed. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) educational and workplace settings are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for you. A common example of this is students who complete a psychological assessment, are diagnosed with ADHD, and need more extended test-taking time in school in a room by themselves to improve concentration. For more information on the Americans with Disability Act, please visit ADA.gov.
I’m worried about being labeled by a diagnosis.
Providing diagnoses is part of the psychological assessment process. We absolutely understand the concern of wanting to avoid any negative labels or emotions that come along with receiving a diagnosis. The intent of diagnosing is to give treatment providers a common language to talk to each other in. It is not to reduce your experience or to make you feel bad about yourself. During the feedback session, we will discuss what the diagnosis means and how to cope with it if you find it to be upsetting. Alternatively, we’ve also worked with many clients who expressed feeling extremely relieved after receiving a diagnosis. For someone who has struggled with ADHD or a Learning Disorder all of their life, a huge weight can be lifted knowing that the ADHD or Learning Disorder was the cause of their difficulties at school or work, not that they are stupid or lazy.