What is Psychological Assessment?
Psychological Assessment is how psychologists better understand a person and their behavior. Psychologists are the only profession expertly trained to perform and interpret psychological tests. It is a professional problem-solving process that seeks to determine the core components of a person’s cognitive skills, achievement, aptitude, personality, interests and strengths. Think of the psychological assessment as the x-ray or blood test your doctor may send you for.
An assessment may have different parts:
- An interview to understand the questions to be answered, the client’s history, and any symptoms the client is experiencing. This interview may be fully structured, meaning the questions are laid out and asked the same way for each client or semi-structured where some questions are asked of everyone and others may explore the client’s personal experience in a deeper way.
- Standardized Psychological Tests to objectively measure the traits, symptoms, behaviors, thoughts or feelings of the client. These tests help to identify possible diagnoses in a concrete way.
- Observations are sometimes necessary to see the concerning behavior or evaluate how an individual interacts in their own environment.
- Informal tests or surveys may be used to gather information from the client or other sources such as teachers, parents or managers (never without the client’s written permission).
Why Participate in a Psychological Assessment?
You would seek an assessment if you haven’t felt you are moving forward in therapy as you’d hoped; are facing challenges at school, work or in your relationships with others; want to make a career switch but aren’t sure to what; or if you just don’t feel right and it has been persevering for a while.
Psychological assessment doesn’t just focus on what’s wrong. It also identifies strengths and positive attributes of the individual being assessed. It can be an empowering process of learning more about yourself and understanding more about why you are facing specific challenges.
Types of Assessments Offered:
There are different types of psychological assessments including:
- Psychological/Diagnostic Assessment
- Psycho-Educational Assessment
- Psycho-Vocational Assessment
Psychological Assessment and Testing can be used to help diagnose individuals suffering with:
- Anxiety Disorders such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Trauma Reactions such as PTSD or Acute Stress
- Mood Disorders such as bi-polar disorder
- Difficulties in attention and/or learning such as ADD/ADHD, or learning disabilities
- Psychotic/delusional disorders
Individuals who may benefit from psychological/diagnostic testing are individuals who are struggling to move forward in therapy, or who are struggling with their mental health. The goal is to provide a diagnosis where warranted with recommendations for treatment, if necessary.
A psycho-educational assessment is an assessment of the individual’s cognitive and academic skills as well as any psychological factors that may interfere. Psycho-educational assessments seek to identify challenges in learning and the accommodations and strategies that may be helpful in overcoming them.
Individuals who benefit from Psycho-educational testing are students or adults who are struggling with learning activities.
Psycho-vocational assessments assess an individual’s cognitive and academic skills, and psychological factors that may interfere. It also involves an exploration of specific strengths and interests as they relate to career functioning. It can help identify potential careers, or aid in career transitions after a period of time out of the workforce.
Individuals who may be interested in psycho-vocational assessments are those who have suffered an injury that prevents return to previous work, individuals who are seeking a new career or individuals who are exploring different educational paths.
Psychological assessments are offered for individuals aged 13 years and up.
Dr. Swan conducts assessments for Veteran’s Affairs, for independent psychological evaluation and privately for individuals.