Psychological testing is a positive step toward understanding learning differences, cognitive or emotional or other mental disorders. And, studies show that early detection of underlying issues can lead to better outcomes in terms of intervention and treatment.
However, we understand that beginning the process of psychological testing for you or your child can also raise many questions.
The clinical team at JCFS Psychological Services has provided this FAQ to help walk you through the process. Rest assured that you are in good hands. Each year, our team of licensed clinical psychologists and doctoral candidates conducts numerous evaluations tailored to fit each client’s specific needs. Our team works to ensure that our clients receive thorough preparation and individualized recommendations that will best suit their needs.
Is Testing Right for Me?
What is Psychological Testing?
Also called a psychological evaluation, the tests we use allow us to assess a client’s abilities and overall functioning, including areas that need special attention and areas of great potential. The evaluation actually consists of multiple tests, designed to gather information to plan for developmental, educational, vocational, social or emotional needs, and to assess a client’s overall functioning and make recommendations.
Why should someone be tested?
Psychological testing can:
- provide a measure of intellectual functioning and potential
- identify learning styles and/or learning disorders
- clarify diagnosis when complex symptoms and behaviors are present
- assess for giftedness, developmental delays or Autism Spectrum Disorder
- identify underlying factors that may be impacting one’s interpersonal relationships, motivation, functioning at school or work, social-emotional functioning or challenges managing impulses and behavior
How do I rule out other factors?
Before beginning the psychological evaluation, it’s recommended that you rule out all medical or physical factors that may be affecting you (or your child). For example, you should have your vision and hearing tested if there is an indication that this could be part of the problem.
Starting the Test
Remember, this isn’t a test for which you study…it’s an evaluation of where you are now. That said, there are things that can help you feel more relaxed as you begin the process.
What is my role in the testing process?
Never underestimate that you are the expert on you and/or your child. While the examiner will focus on providing the best possible assessment, the information that you provide is equally important. You can best participate in the testing process by offering insight, honesty and your best effort throughout. Outlining specific concerns prior to testing will aid in the assessment process.
How can I do my best during testing?
- If you (or your child) take medication, make sure that it has been taken according to instructions on the day of testing. If you (or your child) have not taken them as prescribed, please tell us.
- If your (or your child’s) physical condition or emotional state is somehow compromised on the day of testing, please inform the examiner. For example: feeling under the weather; taking medication that would make one drowsy; a poor night’s sleep prior; a death in the family, etc. These types of things can affect performance on some of the tests used for psychological evaluations.
- Get a good night’s sleep prior to testing. Being sleepy during testing can affect overall concentration on timed tasks in particular.
- Eat well before testing. It is also fine to bring a snack if testing is going to last for a prolonged period of time.
- Take breaks when offered and ask for breaks if needed. Testing can feel tiresome. We will offer scheduled breaks during long appointments. Breaks are a good time to eat a snack, use the restroom, or, for children, spend time playing with a favorite game or toy.
Can I go back to work or school after I’m done?
The testing process can take anywhere from 4-12 hours, which may occur over several sessions. Many people feel tired after testing and need time to rest. For both of these reasons, you may have to miss work or school in order to complete testing or you may want to adjust your schedule to allow for resting after the exam.
After the Testing is Done
What happens when testing is complete?
- Our team will analyze the data and write a comprehensive psychological report. We will create a well-integrated explanation of results and develop individualized and evidence-based recommendations. Typically, reports include:
- A list of tests administered
- The reason for testing
- Pertinent background information
- Behavioral observations
- School observation, when indicated
- Test scores
- Interpretation of test scores
- Diagnostic impressions (if applicable)
Once the report is complete, we will schedule a feedback session with you, during which we will review the final report and answer any of your questions. You will also receive a copy of the full report.
Depending on the reason for testing, with your permission, we will sometimes meet with others, such as school officials or treatment providers, to review the report as well.
Preparing Your Child for Psychological Testing
How can I explain the testing process to prepare my child?
Many children may wonder why they are having these tests and if there is something wrong with them. Listen to your child’s concerns and feelings about the evaluation and answer your child’s questions as straightforwardly as possible. It is helpful to be reassuring to your child.
Most importantly, the goal in preparation is to help your child be as comfortable, relaxed and motivated as possible the day of testing. In explaining to your child why he/she is being tested:
- Emphasize that the testing is not because the child has been bad.
- Offer reassurance that the information gathered from the evaluation will help you and other people better understand his/her experiences, what kinds of things he/she has been having trouble with and what types of things he or she is really good or not so good at doing.
- Explain that psychological testing is not unusual and other children participate in testing, too.
Proper preparation will help your child do his/her best, allow for a pleasant testing experience and help the examiner gather the most reliable results possible.