Psychological Assessments are not magic. They assess and evaluate information that you give to the psychologist. You give this information either in the form of answers to interview questions or as answers on paper, or on a computer to specific questions. The assessment’s accuracy depends on how seriously and cautiously you answer the questions you are asked.
The purpose of assessment is typically for diagnosis or classification. This is basically using the assessment numbers to place you in a strictly or loosely defined category of people. This essentially allows us to promptly understand what you are like in general, and to assess the presence of other relevant characteristics based upon other people categorically similar to you.
There are several aspects to assessment. The following reflect some of them:
There are generally two kinds of Interviews, structured or unstructured.
- Structured – Such interviews are designed to provide a diagnosis or classification for you, by questioning you in a “yes/no” or “definitely/somewhat/not at all” forced choice format. It is typically broken up into different sections reflecting the diagnosis or classification in question. Structured interviews often use closed questions, which require a simple pre-determined answer.
- Unstructured – Such interviews are generally for information gathering and often use open questions. Questions would typically ask you for more explanation and elaboration.
Behavioral Observations may be used clinically, such as to add to interview information or to assess results of treatment. It may also be used in research settings to see which treatment is more efficient. Very often, behavior observations are some of the most important information we can gather to not only understand your needs, but also to design intervention strategies for you.
There are several type of tests. The tests are typically grouped according to some of the following categories:
- Achievement and aptitude tests attempt to measure how much you either know about a certain topic, such as mathematics or spelling, or how much of a capacity you have to master material in a particular area, such as mechanical relationships. It is usually used in the educational or employment settings.
- Intelligence tests attempt to measure your intelligence, like your basic ability to understand the world around you, assimilate its functioning, and apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of your life. It is a measure of a potential, not a measure of what you have learned (as in an achievement test).
- Neuropsychological tests attempt to measure deficits in cognitive functioning like your ability to think, speak, reason, etc. that may result from some sort of brain damage, such as a stroke or a brain injury.
- Occupational tests attempt to match your interests with the interests of persons in known careers. The logic here is that if the things that interest you in life match up with, say, the things that interest most school teachers, then you might make a good school teacher yourself.
- Personality tests attempt to measure your basic personality style and are most used in research or forensic settings to help with clinical diagnoses.
- Specific clinical tests attempt to measure specific clinical matters, such as your current level of anxiety or depression.
When taking a test, you have the right…
- To know the name of the test;
- To know the purpose of the test being used;
- To have the instructions and the results of the test explained in the language that you can understand meaningfully;
- To have the confidentiality of your test information kept within the limits promised during informed consent;
- To determine, through your signed release of information, who will have access to the testing information.
NOTE: In some legal situations, you may be required to waive your rights in regard to psychological testing. Failing which, agents can refuse to consider you for what you want from them. You will have to choose between your rights and what you want the testing to accomplish for you in this case.
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