What is Psychological Testing?

Psychological testing provides an in-depth understanding of an individual’s strengths, abilities and areas in need of improvement. Depending on the reason for testing, your evaluation may provide insight into cognitive, academic, emotional, behavioral, neuropsychological, memory, and/or executive (e.g. attention, planning and organization) functioning.

Think of psychological testing as comparable to medical testing. When the source of a symptom is unclear, physicians order a series of tests, such as x-rays or blood tests, to understand what is causing the problem. The results of these tests clarify the diagnosis and enable physicians to develop a targeted treatment plan.

Similarly, a psychological evaluation will include a variety of tests and assessment tools to enable us to make a diagnosis and develop appropriate action plans or interventions. Evaluations for both children and adults are conducted by Danielle Rothman, Psy.D.

When Should I Have Testing? When Should My Child Have Testing?

Psychological testing is helpful in the diagnosis process when a person—adult or child—is experiencing behavioral or emotional problems at work, school or in relationships, and when these problems are complex or the cause(s) is difficult to identify.

Testing can also help identify areas of strength to maximize opportunities for growth and success.

Adult Psychological Testing

Adults can benefit from testing for the following reasons:

  • Underperformance or difficulty adjusting to college
  • Difficulty succeeding at work or getting along with co-workers
  • Difficulties with dating or other personal relationships
  • Problems getting along with spouses, children or other family members
  • Emotional distress, including frequent sadness or worry, anger management problems or withdrawal and isolation
  • Changes to emotional or brain functioning (e.g. memory problems) related to injury or illness
  • Trouble coping with a significant change, loss or traumatic event
  • You and/or your therapist are feeling “stuck” in therapy, or are seeking additional insight into problems in order to better guide treatment

Child and Adolescent Psychological Testing

Children and adolescents can benefit from testing for the following reasons:

  • Academic or behavioral problems at school
  • To identify a child who is intellectually gifted
  • Concern that a young child is exhibiting developmental delays
  • Difficulty making friends, getting along with peers or understanding social expectations
  • Aggression or other conduct problems
  • Problems in relationships with parents and/or siblings
  • Significant trouble focusing, paying attention and following directions
  • Emotional distress, including frequent sadness or worry, angry outbursts or withdrawal and isolation
  • Trouble coping with a significant change, loss or traumatic event

Types of Psychological Evaluations

At Insigh,t Into Action Therapy, our Dr. Rothman performs comprehensive psychological, psychoeducational, neuropsychological, developmental and bariatric evaluations that can address the following potential diagnoses and situations:

  • Learning Disorders
  • Intellectual Giftedness
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Cognitive & Memory
  • Depression, Anxiety & Mood Disorders
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Diagnosis & Treatment Planning
  • Clearances for Bariatric Procedures
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • School Readiness
  • Development Delays
  • Executive Functioning
  • Oppositions Defiant Disorder & other Behavioral Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Insight into Personality Functioning
  • Thought Disorders

What To Expect During Psychological Testing

You will meet with Dr. Rothman for a clinical interview during which you will identify your concerns and she will gather your (or your child’s) personal history. You may be asked to bring along copies of previous assessments or other relevant documentation.

Dr. Rothman will then choose a specific set of psychological tests and assessments based on your questions, concerns and goals. Tests may include activities such as puzzles, drawing and verbal or written questions that may be administered via computer, pencil and paper, or verbally. You may be asked to meet with her on several occasions for several hours at a time to complete the testing.

Dr. Rothman will also gather information from the clinician who referred you, as well as from other relevant treatment providers such as psychiatrists, therapists and school professionals.

The results of your testing evaluation will be compiled by Dr. Rothman into a clear and comprehensive written report that includes a diagnosis and specific recommendations as to how to address problems and increase opportunities for future success. You will be asked to attend a follow-up feedback session so Dr. Rothman can review your report with you and answer any questions you may have.

How to Prepare Your Child for Psychological Evaluation

It is important that the psychological testing process be as comfortable as possible for children. This will reduce anxiety and increase motivation and cooperation. The evaluation time can vary in length depending on the tests prescribed, and will include one or more short breaks to allow your child to eat, rest or have a play break.

The following can help you prepare your child for psychological evaluation:

  • Give your child advance notice of the evaluation. As a rule of thumb, provide one day’s notice for each year of a child’s age.
  • Let your child know that the purpose of the evaluation is to learn more about them in order to help them be their best.
  • Explain that they will be meeting with a doctor who will talk to them and ask them to complete a series of activities that can include puzzles, drawings and stories, as well as activities that might seem similar to schoolwork. Avoid using the word “test,” as this can make some children anxious.
  • Allow your child to ask questions about the evaluation process and address any concerns they might have. Here are some of the more common concerns:
    • Younger children may worry that going to a doctor means getting a shot. Explain that this is a special kind of doctor—a “talking” or “feelings” doctor. Reassure them that they will not be getting a shot.
    • Your child may be concerned that having an evaluation means that there is something wrong with them, or that they are different from other children. Explain that many children have evaluations for lots of reasons, and that the purpose for the evaluation is to understand them better and to help them succeed.
    • Children may be worried about performing well on the evaluation, even if you don’t use the word “test.” Assure your child that they are only expected to do their best.
  • Ensure that your child has a restful night’s sleep prior to testing.
  • On the testing day, your child should eat a healthy breakfast, and dress in comfortable clothing. Bring along snacks for energy, as testing can be exhausting.