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Psychological Testing: What Is It? And Why Is It Beneficial?

There are many confusing terms when it comes to therapy. Certainly, psychological testing is one of them. The words sound technical and obscure.

How can one “test” one’s psyche anyways?

The answer isn’t as complex as it might appear to be. At the same time, there is also more detail involved than you may realize.

In the end, psychological testing can be a very beneficial tool, for both the therapist and you. It allows you to better understand what’s going on for you and informs what would be the best approach to treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about psychological testing.

What Is Psychological Testing?

As mentioned at the outset, psychological testing is a tool that can be useful for both the client and the therapist. There’s not just one kind of psychological testing. Rather, there are many different types of tests and assessments.

A few of these include:

  • IQ tests – to determine mental capabilities and intelligence
  • Alcohol or drug addiction testing – important for an addiction diagnosis
  • Psychosexual evaluations – often required for court proceedings
  • ADHD testing – can be useful for getting help in school
  • Autism spectrum disorder – also important for accessing school resources and other related services

All these tests and assessments are used to help with forming a diagnosis for a particular psychological condition. For example, if your child is struggling in school, there are tests they can take which can help you (their parent), their therapist, teachers, and counselors determine if your child has a learning disability.

Can’t the Therapist Just Tell Something Is Wrong?

Sort of. Actually, mental health professionals often will notice when someone is displaying certain traits or behaviors. This is more than simply a gut feeling. Rather, it is an informed intuition based on both years of clinical experience and training.

However, that isn’t enough to form a clinical diagnosis. Instead, a scientific tool is needed to assess whether there’s really something going on. That’s where psychological testing comes in.

Do I Really Need Testing?

Good question! On the one hand, there is the concept that “knowledge is power.” That is, the more information or data that you have available, the better capable you are of making a decision. And when it comes to your mental health, you want to have all the information available so you can make choices that are appropriate for you.

However, oftentimes, there are also other factors at play that require psychological testing. For example:

  • The courts, especially if there has been a crime committed
  • Insurance companies may not pay for treatment without a diagnosis
  • Getting necessary support services at school

All of these are valid reasons why you might need to have psychological testing.

How Are Psychological Tests Administered?

That depends on the type of test you are taking. For example, some tests require that you answer questions from a booklet. That’s very similar to how you completed standardized tests in school. With other tests, you are asked questions by a test administrator, who then takes note of your answers. And in yet other tests, you might be asked to solve certain types of problems or puzzles. These can be useful for determining problem-solving skills and critical thinking ability.

Psychological testing isn’t meant to put a label on you. Instead, the goal of testing is to better understand the problem that you are facing. Then, appropriate services and treatment can be utilized to address the issue. Thus, testing helps you and your therapist to focus on what’s really going on. That way, you can get the help you actually need.

If you would like more information about psychological testing, I invite you to contact us if you have any questions or if you have need to get tested for specific reasons.

Author

Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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