Psychological evaluation: Test and assessment

Psychological evaluation is a mental health assessment, where a professional, such as a family doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist checks to see if you are experiencing a mental health problem. Psychologists use tests and some assessment tools to measure and observe a client’s behavior to arrive at a diagnosis and  treatment guide. Psychologists use a specific set of assessments and tests for each individual client for psychological evaluation. Only  licensed clinical psychologists can administer assessments and tests and interpret the results. They use information from the different tests and assessments performed to reach a specific diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

Tests and assessments

Tests and assessments are both different but related components of a psychological evaluation. Psychologists use the two tools to help them come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Psychological evaluation: Tests

Testing basically entails use of formal tests such as questionnaires or checklists. These are also referred to as “norm-referenced” tests. That is, the psychological evaluation tests have been standardized so that test-takers are evaluated in a similar way. Additionally, the test should be the same no matter where they live or who administers the test. For example, a norm-referenced test of a child’s reading abilities, may examine that child’s ability compared to other children of similar age or grade level.  Researchers have studied, evaluated and proven norm-referenced tests be effective for measuring a particular disorder.

Psychological evaluation: Assessment

A psychological evaluation assessment component includes various components such as:

  • norm-referenced psychological tests
  • informal tests and surveys
  • interview information
  • school or medical records
  • medical evaluation and observational data.

A psychologist determines what information to use based on the particular set of questions being asked. For example, assessments can be used to examine if a person is competent to stand trial , has a brain injury or has a learning disorder . The set of questions can also be of use to determine if a person would be fit to be a good manager. One common assessment technique, for instance, is a clinical interview. When a psychologist speaks to a client about their concerns and history, they’re able to observe how the client thinks, reasons and interacts with others. Assessments may also include interviewing other people who are close to the client such as coworkers or family members. However , written consent from the client is required to administer such interviews.

Combination of both psychological evaluation tools, testing and assessment gives a psychologist a clear picture of a person’s strengths and limitations.


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