What is a psychological assessment/evaluation?
A psychological assessment or evaluation involves the collection of data about a person, to determine the status of their mental health and functioning during the time of the assessment. Data is collected through observations, clinical interviews, reviewing historical records, and administering a battery of tests. Testing includes cognitive and personality tests (both objective and projective).
The data is scored, interpreted, and analyzed, in order to answer a specific referral question, detailing information about a person’s symptoms, behavior, personality, strengths, and weaknesses. A psychological assessment also makes recommendations for intervention based on the information and analysis generated from the evaluation.
Typical reasons for referral include diagnosis for psychological disorders, assessment for cognitive issues such as giftedness, delays, intellectual disability or learning disorders, evaluations of strengths and weaknesses, and assessments of fitness (school or work).
What is a psychoeducational assessment?
Depending on the reason for referral or purpose of the assessment, psychoeducational assessment involves evaluating a child’s cognitive abilities, processes, academic functioning, and adaptive behavior. Typically, children are referred for these assessments when they demonstrate difficulties in academics, or delays in developmental expectations for abilities such as reading, writing, and math. Other times, children are assessed to determine what strengths and weaknesses they have in terms of learning. Recommendations for interventions and accommodations for academics and learning are made.
At Better Steps, we go beyond intelligence and achievement testing by conducting neuropsychological testing and an approach that explores the different domains of a child’s cognitive abilities rather than simply producing IQ and achievement scores, as a person’s intelligence is multifaceted. Our aim is to help parents and teachers not only what the child can do, but how. And more importantly, how to help the child. These assessments are done for children aged 7-16.
What should I prepare for the assessment?
The amount of time an assessment takes can vary, but it will typically take half or the whole day, depending on the reason for referral. Our assessments typically begin at 9am, and we request clients who typically take breakfast to do so beforehand. A lunch break will be given, where clients are given time to either go out for lunch, or eat a packed lunch. When fatigue or other factors are seen, testing may be suspended and a second day may be scheduled as deemed necessary.
For adults, please bring your accomplished information sheets as well as previous assessments to the testing session. Please make sure that you are in good condition for testing, as it takes a prolonged amount of time and can be challenging at times.
Prepare your child for the testing experience. Ensure your child is well rested, and is well-fed and hydrated.
Prior to the evaluation, begin recording any present or recent concerns or thoughts that you want to share with the evaluator. Think about how the child was growing up, from infancy, and write down anything notable. This ensures that you won’t forget important information during your meeting.
Please bring your child’s accomplished information sheets, previous academic records and any previous assessments made. During the evaluation process, parents are also interviewed and given checklists to accomplish as part of the data we need. When testing begins with the child, parents are often not present in the testing room unless necessary.
Children under 12 may not be left at the clinic premises without a parent or caregiver. Bring something to keep you occupied, as you will likely be waiting for several hours. Lunch and snacks may be brought, or you may opt to leave or have food delivered for lunch.