What is a Psychological Assessment?

Psychologists use a variety of tools and techniques when counseling individuals, recommending treatment plans, and evaluating mental wellbeing. One of those tools is psychological assessments. Keep reading to learn about psychological assessments, their purpose, and what they look like.

Looking for a licensed psychologist in Nevada or California to conduct a psychological assessment? Contact us today.

What is a Psychological Assessment?

Psychological assessments are diagnostic tests that psychologists use to evaluate an individual’s psychological functioning, including behavior, personality, thoughts, emotions, and intellectual and cognitive abilities. They are helpful tools for individuals and lawyers to consider when wanting to take a deeper look into their or their clients’ mental health and inner workings. These assessments can also help psychologists identify learning disabilities and giftedness and prepare treatment plans.

While they are typically tailored to individuals, common components of psychological assessments include:

  • Surveys
  • Personality tests
  • Behavior tests
  • Clinical interviews
  • External interviews
  • Observational data
  • Medical and school history
  • Medical evaluations

Self-discovery and understanding are main goals of such assessments. This means that psychologists will not always recommend treatment following an assessment. Rather, they will use the findings of an assessment to help individuals understand themselves better. Assessments are not about finding everything that’s “wrong” about an individual. In fact, assessments do quite the opposite; they highlight areas of strength.

Additionally, assessments are a tool to help psychologists determine the best next steps for individualized care, and they can help illumine the root cause of certain symptoms, behaviors, or even thought patterns. Additionally, because they identify underlying stressors and triggers, psychological assessments can prevent some undesirable symptoms from worsening.

How Do Psychological Assessments Work?

There are psychological assessments to evaluate a wide spectrum of conditions, disorders, and risk factors. Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the most common ones.

  • Abuse Inventory Risk
  • Crisis Stabilization Scale
  • Coping Resources Inventory
  • Family Environment Scale
  • Perceived Stress Scale
  • Psychological Distress Scale
  • Social Skills Inventory
  • Ways of Coping Questionnaire

This is just the tip of the iceberg for psychological assessments. Psychologists typically specialize in specific areas, such as adolescent psychology or couples counseling, and they will therefore offer assessments within their scope of expertise. At Lucero Wellbeing, we work with adults, teens, and pre-teens. Additionally, we work with lawyers who are interested in psychological assessments for their clients.

Types of Psychological Assessments

Psychological assessments can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the components of the assessment. After the assessment is finished, the psychologist will take time to organize, analyze, and interpret the results. Finally, he or she will share findings with the individual, highlight any discoveries that shed light on the individual’s situation, and recommend a plan of action and/or treatment, if needed.

Psychological Assessment Vs. Psychological Test

It may seem that psychological assessments and tests are the same thing, but they are actually very different. However, they are often used together to give psychologists and their patients a comprehensive look at someone’s overall being.

As described above, assessments evaluate someone’s behavior and other aspects in order to diagnose disorders and recommend treatment. Psychological tests, on the other hand, evaluate specific skills and functioning of an individual. Personality tests, IQ tests, and a multitude other tests provide additional insight into an individual’s inner workings. When used in conjunction with psychological assessments, tests provide deeper insight to help psychologists diagnose and treat their patients.

Together, psychological tests and assessments can be used to diagnose the following*:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Autism
  • Alcohol addition
  • Drug addiction
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Learning disabilities

*Not a comprehensive list

Who Are Psychological Assessments For?

Simply put, psychological assessments can be for anyone. No matter what someone’s mental or emotional state is, these tools can provide invaluable insight into one’s life, actions, and thought patterns. While they can benefit every individual, they are especially useful for those struggling with mental health issues, trauma, behavioral issues, and even ongoing relational issues. Individuals, couples, and families can get so much insight from these assessments, as well as guidance and practical tools for healing and moving forward.

Psychological assessments can be especially insightful in educational contexts, as they help parents and educators understand students, identify learning disabilities and giftedness, and determine intellectual functioning.

Additionally, many lawyers have used psychological assessments in court, specifically in child custody cases. In these cases, psychological assessments are used to assess a parent’s mental health and capacity to provide a safe environment for their child. In these situations, an expert should be called to both perform the assessment and present the findings.

Psychological Assessments in California and Nevada

We provide mental health services including therapy, career coaching, and assessments to adults, teens, and pre-teens in California and Nevada. If you’re a concerned parent or practicing lawyer in Nevada or California, contact us today to see how our assessment services can assist you.