What Happens During a Psychological Assessment?

Psychological symptoms are becoming increasingly prevalent in America. According to the Mayo Clinic, roughly 44% of college students experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Currently, the demand for psychological assessments has grown, in part due to the stresses of the pandemic. Given the increasing amount of interest, many people are curious to know what happens during psychological assessments and what the benefits are. Read on to discover exactly what the process of a psychological assessment entails.

What Is a Psychological Assessment?

A psychological assessment is the process of evaluating an individual’s mental health, functioning, and overall well-being. Doctoral-level psychologists are best-trained to conduct these evaluations. Psychologists typically use patient interview and observational data, standardized tests and interviews with third parties to begin to tell the story and understand how and why a person is suffering. Psychological assessments are helpful in determining a person’s mental health conditions and appropriate treatment options. The assessments also assist in evaluating progress on a treatment plan.

Interviews With Close Associates

First, a clinical interview is performed by the psychologist, in conjunction with the patient, and any family/friends that may be able to provide information relevant to the referral question, or why the patient is seeking assessment services. This process usually consists of a face-to-face interview, as well as self and other-report measures.  

Standardized Tests

After the interviews are conducted and any additional records, such as report cards, are gathered, the patient is called back in. The testing period can take between several days and a few weeks depending on the amount of testing required. The patient is then assessed with a series of standardized tests to determine the possible remaining diagnoses. For example, for an ADHD assessment, a typical diagnostic series will include tests like ToVA and the WAIS intelligence series.

Symptom Assessments

After interviews and tests are conducted, the psychologist will compile all available information and find several psychological conditions that match the patient’s symptoms. This is often the most challenging aspect of the assessment, especially when the symptoms do not exactly fit the condition the patient presented for.

What Is a Differential Diagnosis?

A frustrating aspect of psychological assessments is that they will usually not give a single definitive diagnosis in the first series. The patient will receive a set of differential or “rule-out” diagnoses. This list shows several diagnoses that match the patient’s symptoms. Sometimes, the diagnoses you sought will be ruled out. This is part of the diagnostic process.

Psychological assessments are crucial for mental health treatment. Contact us at Elements Psychological Services LLC today to schedule yours if you have concerns about yourself or a member of your family.