By: Jessica Lanctot, M.S.
Here at Interaction Dynamics not only do we offer therapy services, but we also offer assessment services, also known as psychological testing or a psychological evaluation. But what is that exactly?
What is it? Psychological testing involves a psychologist administering tests to assess a person’s cognitive abilities, such as memory, language, attention, processing speed (i.e., how quickly one can think), and executive functioning skills (i.e., being able to plan, organize, and monitor yourself). Additionally, tests are administered to assess a person’s emotional functioning, including stressors, anxiety, depression, interpersonal functioning, and personality traits. Psychological evaluations are highly comprehensive. Psychologists then give the most appropriate diagnosis as an explanation for the particular test findings, as well as tailored recommendations for how to manage and compensate for one’s strengths and weaknesses. Oftentimes, people report the recommendations are the most helpful part of the evaluation as this gives them actionable steps they can take NOW to improve their lives.
What can I expect? While each facility is run a bit differently, here at Interaction Dynamics all-in-all a psychological evaluation will take you about four and a half hours to complete. We start with an hour-long clinical interview in which we ask about your symptoms and relevant clinical history (i.e., medical history, academic/occupational history, current medications, substance use history, etc.) to provide the appropriate context to your test scores. Then you are administered about ~3 hours of psychological tests where you will be asked to engage in different tasks and complete questionnaires aimed at evaluating the areas listed above (i.e., cognition and emotional functioning). Finally, once all of your results have been scored and interpreted, a 30-minute feedback session will be scheduled (typically about two to three weeks after the evaluation) to go over your results, clinical diagnoses, and individualized recommendations as well as provide you with your psychological report. The report is a written document that outlines your background, test results, and diagnoses and can be shared with any provider the person deems would be helpful. Many people benefit from giving their report to their therapist, psychiatrist, or primary care physician.
Should I do it? Now that you know what a psychological evaluation is and the process of completing one, how do you know if it is right for you? Psychological evaluations are a great way to clarify clinical diagnoses. Therefore, if you are wanting to get official documentation of a particular diagnosis you believe you may have or you and your treatment team are not sure which clinicial diagnoses are most appropriate, a psychological evaluation may be right for you. Additionally, some medical providers require an official evaluation and diagnosis prior to prescribing medication, as is the case oftentimes for ADHD. Psychological testing may also provide clarification on suspected learning disorders and potentially assist in gaining school accommodations. Finally, some people tend to focus on the diagnosis component of testing and while this is certainly important, at its core, psychological testing is designed to help people better understand themselves. To learn their strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge is power, and some people may choose to seek out an evaluation to provide greater insight into how their mind works. As you can see in the image above, psychological testing is kinda like detective work in finding the “missing puzzle piece” when understanding our own minds. In summary, there are many reasons one might seek out a psychological evaluation. If any of these reasons resonate with you, consider inquiring about completing a psychological evaluation! But don’t hesitate as many facilities have waitlists.