Psychologists use tests and assessment to measure a client's behavior, in order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. If you or a family member has been referred for psychological testing, you probably have some questions about what to expect. Psychological testing may sound intimidating, but it's designed to help you. Licensed psychologists are expertly trained to administer tests and assessments and interpret the results. Psychologists choose a specific set of assessments and tests for each individual client. Together, testing and assessment allow a psychologist to see the full picture of a person's strengths and limitations.
Tests and assessments are two separate, but related components of a psychological evaluation. Psychologists use both to help them arrive at a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Testing involves the use of questionnaires or checklists. Test questions often asked people to think about specific types of interactions, very specific questions about behavior, attitudes, preferences, and personal history. Psychological testing isn't like taking a multiple-choice exam that you either pass or fail. Children who are experiencing difficulty in school, for example, may undergo aptitude testing or tests for learning disabilities. If a person is having problems at work or school, or in personal relationships, tests can help a psychologist understand whether he or she might have issues with anger management or interpersonal skills, or certain personality traits that contribute to the problem. Other tests evaluate whether clients are experiencing emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression.
A psychological assessment can include numerous components such as surveys and interview information. For example, assessments can be used to determine if a person has a learning disorder, or they can also be used to determine if a person would be a good manager or how well they may work with a team.