Psychological assessment is a process where a psychologist uses psychological tests and other methods such as interviews or behavioural observations to get information or answer questions about behaviour.
A psychological assessment may be required for various reasons. Sometimes a person has behavioural problems or symptoms such as attention difficulty, memory problems, depression or stress or is not performing well in school and we need to know what the problem is, its extent and formulate an action plan. Sometimes, the courts may need information on a person’s mental state and functioning or the impact of a road traffic accident on the injured person.
Psychological tests are standardized instruments that help psychologists collect information about the client, such as intelligence, memory, aptitude and interests, personality traits or psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. There are even tests for use in the workplace to assess stress, motivation, workplace culture, etcetera. Standardized psychological tests meet stringent quality standards set by internationally recognized organizations.
Sometimes tests include questions about attitudes, opinions or lifestyle. Psychological tests are not designed to be intrusive and information collected is usually relevant to the testing objectives. Assessment results are given only to the client (or a parent/guardian in the case of a minor). The psychologist will explain these matters to the client before beginning the assessment.
Psychological tests are not exams!
Psychological tests are not like school exams or tests. They usually have no right or wrong answers and may just require the client to give their views, beliefs or opinions. In fact some tests do not have any questions, so the term ‘test’ is not entirely accurate!
Duration of Psychological testing
Tests can take anything from a few minutes to a few hours – the ones that take longer are usually interactive with the psychologist administering sections or working closely with the client. A psychological assessment may be done in several sessions and include interviews, tests and a final debrief where the results are discussed. Remember that the psychologist will explain what tests will be administered and how long the assessment will take.
When will I get my results? Or, what will the assessment results look like?
The results of a psychological assessment are usually given to the client as a written report. The psychologist scores the tests administered, interprets and integrates all the information. The report communicates this information clearly and answers the assessment objectives.
An assessment report can take a few days to prepare and the psychologist will usually also have a face-to-face session with the client to explain the results. Psychological Assessment Reports are written carefully and meticulously to meet stringent quality standards.