The Purpose of Psychological Testing is to create definitive diagnosis of psychiatric conditions and prescriptive protocols (recommendations) to help clients identify strengths and weaknesses (self-awareness), and become successful. The testing recommendations become a Road Map for treatment. Therapists, treatment programs, and academic institutions use recommendations to create an efficient and effective path towards the best possible outcome.
Assessments are separated into 4 phases:
1) Interviews and information gathering
3) Analysis, formulation, and report writing
4) Feedback session to ensure accurate understanding and distribution of information.
Phase 1: Interview and Information Gathering
At the start of the assessment, all of important stake holders are identified. These typically include client, parents, significant other, therapist, referral consultant, psychiatrist, and other professionals or programs that may have insight. Parents and Client are given a Parent Questionnaire to fill out prior to their interview to create an outline of relevant historical information which is then detailed during the interview. Parents can submit their own narrative or timeline which can help tremendously. Calls are scheduled with prior treatment providers. The purpose of the interviews is to gather information, as well as understand the perspective and opinions of the interviewee.
Phase 2: Psychological Testing
o Cognitive Testing: IQ and Achievement testing to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a persons thinking. General assessment, domains include: general awareness, attention, verbal comprehension, visual-spatial ability, computation, abstract thought, impulsivity, problem solving, social comprehension, and judgment. Rule out gross learning disabilities. (Possible Tests: WAIS, WISC, WJ-III, SB-3, WIAT, WRAT)
o Emotional: Assess emotional functioning and assess for depression, anxiety, deficits in identity formation, obsessive/compulsive disorders, and sleep disorders. Assess personality functioning. Obtain data regarding developmental and emotional age. Obtain data regarding family dynamics. (Possible Tests: MMPI, MACI, MCMI, BDI, Rorschach)
o Behavioral: Evaluate substance abuse. Evaluate for trauma and abuse. Evaluate for risk of self-harm, aggression, and treatment compliance or flight. Detect malingering, deceit, and exaggeration. Screen for behaviors that are high risk, illegal, or violate the rights of others or major social values including substance abuse. Rule out thought disorders and screen for organic impairment. (Possible Tests: Achenbach, BASC, Vanderbilt, other rating forms)
o Executive Functioning: We believe EF skills should be evaluated in every client because EF Skills are highly correlated with outcome and EF skill development should be included into therapeutic treatment planning. Executive Functioning assessment evaluates: self-regulation, problem solving, planning, organization, inhibition, meta-cognition (self-awareness), working memory, and Accountability. (Possible Tests: BRIEF, WCST, D-KEFS, EFSD)
*Neuropsychological Testing evaluates neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Concussion, and other learning disorders. Domains include: attention, memory, language, visual-spatial functioning, and executive functioning. It is a much more sophisticated level of understanding for clients that need it.
Phase 3: Anaylsis, Formulation and Written Report
Once Interviews and Testing are completed, the psychologists begins the process of scoring test data and analyzing all historical and interview information to understand the client and formulate diagnosis and functioning. The report of test findings is comprehensive and often lengthy. It is written from a developmental perspective and will give a thorough psychosocial history, and review all relevant history that may be influencing learning, personality, and change. There will be a summary of previous reports and therapeutic interventions. There will be a results section of current test findings for each domain that is evaluated. There will be a summary and formulation to summarize findings and diagnosis. And most importantly, there will be a detailed Recommendations section which will be customized, and tailored to immediate and long-term needs of the client.
Recommendations and Prescriptive Protocols
Recommendations are specific to the clients needs and address current and future needs of the client.
Individualized Recommendations address:
Medical referrals (e.g. neurology, endocrinology, opthamology, occupational therapy, etc)
Therapy (Individual, Group, Family) and specific interventions
Academic issues (Learning disabilities and accommodations)
Independence and Individuation through Executive Functioning
Long-term issues such as vocational development
Phase 4: Feedback
Initial test findings are given to therapist and referral source as soon as possible so treatment planning can begin. When possible, we set a meeting or teleconference call with all stakeholders to give feedback regarding testing and recommendations. This meeting can include: parents, therapist, and educational consultant. If the next placement is already determined, then the new therapist would also be invited to be on this call. The purpose of this meeting is to: 1) facilitate an accurate and timely distribution of information and 2) facilitate the necessary conversations regarding next steps. If the admissions department from prospective programs would like to speak with the testing psychologist separately, this can be arranged.