Psychological Testing: What it is, what it involves, and how it can help
Mental health and illness can be confusing to navigate. Several disorders share similar symptoms, overlap with one another, or co-occur, especially over time. One thing is for certain, though, and that is these symptoms make life more difficult no matter where they come from. Is your current depressive episode part of a short-term adjustment disorder or a longer lasting mood disorder? Are your child’s academic difficulties the effect of ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, a learning disorder, or an anxiety disorder? Are you eligible for school or workplace accommodations to account for a reading disorder and help you do your work under less stressful conditions? Psychological testing is a way of identifying a primary diagnosis, ruling out secondary co-occurring disorders, and establishing recommendations for treatment and recovery. These recommendations may include psychotherapy, medication management, or treatment from other healthcare providers, accommodations from school or workplace supervisors, and behavioral practices for self-care.
What Psychological Testing Comprises
Testing begins with a face-to-face interview with Dr. Jonathan Woodin, a licensed clinical psychologist who has received specialized training in administering psychological assessments. Family members are welcome to be present in the interview, especially with an adolescent client, to provide background information. This initial interview lasts approximately 50 minutes and covers current symptoms, medical and mental health history, and current life struggles. If warranted, Dr. Woodin may ask for permission to seek collateral information from additional sources, such as teacher, work supervisors, or other family members. From there, testing will occur in 2-hour sessions using current, empirically validated psychological tests focused toward the client’s specific needs. Total testing time depends on the diagnosis in question. After the tests have been administered and completed, Dr. Woodin interprets and integrates test data and writes a testing report with clinical findings and recommendations. Dr. Woodin and client then meet for an hour-long feedback session wherein Dr. Woodin discusses his findings, answers questions, and provides a copy of the testing report.
What Psychological Testing Can Do for You
Psychological testing provides evidenced-based diagnoses and recommendations verified by a licensed clinical psychologist. When these diagnoses include disorders that cause functional impairments, such as intellectual disorder, a learning disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the recommendations advocate for special accommodations from workplaces, schools, structured tests for professional licensure, and ongoing treatment. These accommodations often include increased time to complete tasks, a secluded space with low stimulation to aid concentration, written instructions to aid memory, or an assigned aide to provide support on a one-on-one basis. In many cases, human resources departments, governing bodies for standardized tests, and school districts require evidence from a psychological test to support a need for accommodations. Psychological testing can also clarify the diagnosis behind distressing symptoms, especially when treatment does not appear effective. All tests include recommendations for treatment, behavioral practices at home and in the community, and in some cases medication management. These recommendations can provide options when you feel at a loss and need direction.