Have you or someone you know been referred by a psychiatrist or physician to undergo a psychological evaluation? You may have many questions regarding the process and what it all entails. In short, psychodiagnostic testing is used to help diagnose and clarify concerns regarding behavior, personality traits, mood, emotional functioning, and cognitive processes. It usually involves a sophisticated and extensive workup to distinguish the psychological contributions that may confound accurate diagnosis and treatment. The report is often used to answer specific referral questions (e.g., diagnostic clarification, differentiation between Axis I and Axis II disorders, comorbidity, and psychological disorders secondary to medical conditions or substance abuse/dependence, current psychosocial stressors, and adaptive ability).
Areas where psychodiagnostic assessment may be helpful:
- When a client is not responding to psychopharmaceutical treatment and clarification of diagnosis is needed.
- When there is a history of trauma (especially long-term exposure) and there are concerns that current symptoms may be partially attributed to these experiences.
- When substance abuse is suspected as a primary contributor to other psychological disorders, or when it has developed as a secondary problem due to an individual’s inability to utilize healthier and more adaptive coping mechanisms.
- When there are problems in interpersonal relationships, especially when these issues are significantly impacting an individual’s functioning.
- When parents or teachers are confused regarding the source of a child’s behavioral or emotional problems, especially if they are affecting the child’s academic functioning. This can be particularly important when it is clear that a child is not performing up to his/her potential intellectual capability (i.e., there is a large gap between IQ and achievement testing).
- When there is a history or current problem with self-harm or suicidal ideation.
What you can expect:
Psychodiagnostic testing is typically quite involved and more time-consuming than more specific referral (e.g., ADHD testing). You will initially meet with a licensed clinical psychologist for a 1-hour intake session. Here, the clinician will gather all relevant history, background information, and current symptomology. Consultation with other family members, teachers, and/or physicians is also often necessary in order to gather a comprehensive profile of the individual. The testing will typically take about 6 hours, which can be completed over the course of two to three sessions. As these evaluations are very thorough, the report typically takes 6-8 weeks. Once the report is completed, you will be contacted by our office to set up a follow-up appointment, where you will be given a copy of the report and have any of your questions or concerns addressed.