What Does A Psychological Evaluation Consist Of?

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

Psychological evaluations are a predetermined series of procedures administered by a licensed mental health professional in order to gather information about an individual's behavior, cognitive and emotional state and general mental health. Therapists use psychological evaluations as a tool to diagnose behavioral, emotional or developmental problems in clients of all ages. Every practitioner has their own method of assessing clients. Components of each evaluation varies with the age of the client and the reason behind the need for the assessment. However, in general, during an initial visit patients are asked to provide family and medical histories, environmental and social habits, school or work problems, cognitive and emotional problems, strengths and weaknesses.

Psychological evaluations might be performed in an informal clinical setting during the onset of psychotherapy sessions. They might also be of a more formal nature that includes a structured interview process in addition to assessments created to identify psychological problems. When a practitioner suspects that an emotional or mental health issue exists, the evaluation process may last several hours or continue over several days.

Pathology and Personality Assessments

These assessments are designed to evaluate clients for the possibility of having anxiety, depression, behavioral or emotional disorders and various other abnormal mental health traits. In addition to a verbal interview, therapists often use different evaluation instruments that commonly include:

• Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III
• Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 2
Personality Assessment Inventory
Symptom Checklist 90R

Achievement Tests

These tests are designed to evaluate someone's verbal capabilities, listening and reading comprehension, reading and writing skills along with math comprehension and skills. Tests used for this purpose include the Wide Range Achievement Test 4 and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement III.

Intelligence Tests

This type of evaluation involves a psychological assessment along with intellectual ability, comprehensive assessments, memory skills, perception skills and mental processing speed. Tests used under these circumstances include the Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence II and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IV.

Memory Tests

Memory testing evaluates cognitive status along auditory, visual, immediate, delayed and retained memory skills. Standardized tests used for these determinations include the:

• California Verbal Learning Test
• Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test
• Rey Complex Figure Test and Recognition Trial
• Wechsler Memory Scales IV

ADHD Evaluations

Interviews, observation, family history and other criteria are used to determine if clients of any age suffer from some form of ADHD. Comprehensive psychological evaluations that make an accurate diagnosis possible assess for:

• Hyperactivity or restlessness problems
• Inattention and memory issues
• Poor self-control and emotional liability symptoms
Self-concept deviations

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