What are psychological assessments and reports?
Psychological assessments and reports are a speciality in the field of psychology, incorporating multi-faceted methods of data collection to observe a client’s behaviour, personality, cognitive thinking and capabilities to diagnose an issue that a client may be suffering from. From here, a treatment plan is followed, to help the client towards more positive mental health. In many ways, psychological testing and reports are alike to other medical tests. For example, with patients suffering from physical symptoms of pain or illness, a blood test, X-rays, or physical examinations are undergone to understand the cause and issue of their discomfort. Psychological assessments serve the same purpose, they are conducted to diagnose issues of psychologist pain, discomfort or illness to create a guide towards better mental health for clients.
What is the purpose of a psychological assessment?
Psychological assessments and reports can do much more than give an understanding of mental discomfort, pain and illness an individual may be experiencing. It can provide valuable information about self-perceptions, cognitive thinking and behavioural analysis of the ways individuals may think, process and apply information to real life situations. Understanding these factors can be of huge benefit to an individual as understanding the manner in which your thought process works, the way you apply information to real life problems and the way you deal with emotions and feelings can provide an objective view of your cognitive thinking. This objective view will enable you to see what is benefiting you and what is not.
A psychological assessment may also aid in developing different methods in approaching real life issues that can be discomforting. Clients present with family problems, relationship problems, severe stress, often related to work, school or their social life. A psychological assessment may allow a better understanding of why clients may be experiencing stress in these domains of life and help develop methods to manage these stresses.
Other purposes of a psychological assessment include for psychological court reports, medico-legal reports, psychometric assessment for autism, cognitive assessments, psychological testing for ADHD, using psychometric testing including WISC, WAIS and V.
How do they work?
A psychological assessment encompasses multiple different components and can be conducted via different methods. The most common methods include:
- Norm-referenced psychological tests – which are standardised tests to assess areas of intelligence, reading, arithmetic, visual motor skills and behavioural skills.
- Informal tests and surveys
- Analysis of school or medical records
- Medical evaluation
- Observational data
One of the most common assessment methods used is a clinical interview. This involves a psychologist speaking to their client about their concerns and issues that they are experiencing. From here, a psychologist may ask about a client’s history, observe their mannerisms, including their body language, the way they speak and listen and their interactions with others. Often, clinical interviews will also be conducted with a client’s friends, family, and co-workers to gain a greater understanding of the client themselves. However, this is only conducted with the acknowledgement and consent of the client themselves.
A psychologist may conduct only one, or a multiple of these different psychological assessments to obtain what is needed for a complete assessment.
Who are psychological assessments for?
Psychological assessments are not required for everybody as they are only performed when individuals show specific symptoms, or require one for diagnosis of an issue. The two groups of individuals who most often undergo psychological assessments are children and students, however adults also benefit from psychological assessments.
Children may undergo a psychological assessment for many reasons. The main reasons include:
- To diagnose autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders or other conditions.
- To diagnose mental health issues such as anxiety or depressive disorders.
- To diagnose behavioural disorders, such as ADHD.
- Test intelligence and track intellectual development.
- To determine socialisation problems, especially if subjected to bullying.
Similarly, adults may also undergo a psychological assessment for a multiple of reasons including:
- To diagnose mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, which may be due to ongoing issues in their family, social, relationship or work/school life.
- For behavioural management.
- As a requirement of supportive drug therapies.
- To gain a greater understanding of one’s individual process of thinking.
- To affirm clinical findings.
- To determine what treatment is best for one’s mental health issue.
Benefits of psychological assessments
Psychological assessments can be beneficial in many ways. Often used in identifying learning, development, psychiatric and neuro-cognitive vulnerabilities in both adults and children, a psychological assessment provides the ability to understand one’s own cognitive thinking and behaviour. Because many of these factors impact academic and social performance, psychological assessments are able to find methods and ways to address any problems in these areas. A child who participates in a psychological assessment and undergoes treatment from this assessment may perform better in school, become less shy and may become more outgoing.
Another benefit of undergoing a psychological assessment is that it can be extremely helpful for adults who may be struggling in areas of their lives, including relationship problems, career and work stress, family problems and much more. Psychological reports provide important information not only about why an individual may be struggling with a certain problem in their life, but also the methods clients can adopt to better approach these issues. Further, a psychological assessment can narrow down and diagnose specific issues an individual may be struggling with, including anxiety, severe stress, depression and addiction. Undergoing a psychological assessment will help an individual and their psychologist develop a treatment plan and will guide them towards more positive mental health.
By undergoing a psychological assessment, psychologists are able to determine and produce positive treatment plans and coping strategies that will guide an individual towards more positive mental health and allow clients to gain a greater understanding of their cognitive behaviours and the way they approach issues in their school, work, family and social life.