Psychological evaluations are usually requested by a patient’s physician or therapist and are designed to assist the referring provider with respect to diagnostic clarification and treatment planning. Different psychological tests are utilized depending on the information needed to answer the referral question.
Psychological evaluations can be designed to provide information about:
- Intellectual ability
- Academic achievement
- Personality development
- How a person copes with stress
- How well a person uses logic and reasoning
- A person’s ability to learn a new task quickly
Psychological tests can also be utilized to:
- Identify psychiatric disorders including mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders
- Explain emotional or relationship concerns a patient might be having
- Develop a treatment plan
- Develop personalized interventions to help improve a person’s current and long-term functioning
- Provide information needed to qualify for community-based services
Neuropsychological evaluations are typically requested by a patient’s medical provider in order to assist in diagnostic clarification and treatment planning with respect to concerns about changes in cognitive functioning. Neuropsychological tests are designed to measure how well one’s brain is functioning. Typically, there are concerns about cognitive changes associated with dementing disorders, brain injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, primary psychiatric disorders, and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Neuropsychological evaluations provide information about a person’s:
- General cognitive ability
- Attention and concentration
- Language abilities
- Visuospatial abilities
- Learning and memory
- Ability to abstract and reason
Results from neuropsychological evaluations are important for:
- Assisting the medical provider in diagnostic clarification
- Assisting in development of a treatment program
- Making recommendations regarding rehabilitation of cognitive difficulties
- Assisting in development of accommodations for cognitive problems as they relate to activities of daily living
What to expect during your evaluation:
A psychological evaluation generally takes several hours. Neuropsychological evaluations typically begin in the morning. A break may be taken for lunch and is followed by a few more hours of testing. The time varies based on the needs of each patient. You will meet with a psychologist as well as a technician specifically trained to administer testing. Children being evaluated must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is well acquainted with the child’s behavior patterns as well as their health and developmental history.
To get the most from your evaluation it is important:
- To get plenty of rest the night before your evaluation
- To eat an adequate meal prior to arriving
- To bring a list of your medications
- To bring any records or documentation that you feel may be pertinent
- To bring completed forms that may have been requested by the psychologist when the appointment was scheduled
- To bring eye glasses or hearing aids
- To bring your insurance card
- To secure child care for any children not directly involved in the testing
People sometimes worry about their upcoming evaluation. This test does not include any painful procedures like drawing blood. Instead, it involves an interview and paper and pencil testing. Reassure your children that they will be doing activities with which they are familiar with at school, such as drawing, telling stories and/or completing work sheets.
Clinicians administering psychological and neuropsychological evaluations are Brent Seaton, PhD, Natalie Hillman Alsop, PhD, Mia Hegarty-Roach, PhD, and Jill Burkley, PsyD.