We often meet parents asking us with a bewildered heart, “They have asked me to get him assessed. Is something wrong with him? Is my child crazy? ”. Honestly, Psychological Assessments may sound intimidating, but in truth is the best way designed to help you. So what is a psychological assessment? Who does it? How is it done? Will they use needles, will they medicate? Parents typically have many such questions. Let us understand this mystery that is psychological assessment!
What is a Psychological Assessment?
First and foremost, a psychological assessment is NOT a medical test. You do not require blood or urine samples, X-Rays or any medical paraphernalia. Most of the psychological tests are ‘paper-and-pencil’ tests. In simple words, your child may be asked to answer a set of questions, solve a few puzzles, work with some blocks and so forth. This is done to assess a child’s personality, intellectual functioning, emotional adjustment and other such psychological variables. Tests are also used to help diagnose the presence of developmental disorders such as ADHD, autism and so forth.
Essentially, the tests help your counsellor, therapist or psychiatrist diagnose the exact nature and severity of the issues the child is facing. Just like a blood test helps a medical doctor arrive at a diagnosis, similarly, a psychological test helps a psychologist formulate a diagnosis. Similarly, when certain behavioural, learning, or emotional difficulties are seen in children; an assessment helps determine a specific concern and formulate a counseling intervention. In other cases, an assessment can help analyse, develop, or train behavioural or emotional traits for professional or personal.
In order to arrive at either of the above mentioned goals, a standardized psychological test needs to be conducted only by a professional psychologist.
Depending on the issues, or the presenting complaints, the psychologist will determine what tests are required. Most widely used tests and the variable measured are given below:
- IQ Tests
These are generally used to calculate a child’s intelligence quotient, or IQ. An IQ test is recommended when the child has academic difficulties, grasping problems, issues with memory or retention of information and so forth. The most common IQ test used is the Wechsler’s Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). Other tests include the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales for Early Childhood, Non-Verbal Test of Intelligence, Standard progressive Matrices, Colored Progressive Matrices.
- Achievement Tests
Used for assessment of Learning Disabilities, or Dyslexia. Common tests include the Diagnostic Test for Learning Disorders, Aston Index, Woodcock Johnson Test of Cognitive Skills and so forth.
- Developmental Tests
These are used with children under the age of 6 years, or with older children showing significant developmental delays. These tests help the clinician chart the child’s development across various areas and compare with the norm group. Developmental Assessment of Young Children (DAYC), Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Child Development Inventories (CDI), Kent Inventory of Developmental Skills – 3rd Edition (KIDS), are some commonly used tests.
Parent questionnaires may be used to firm up a diagnosis. Conner’s Rating Scales (ADHD), Childhood Autism rating Scale (CARS) are used to help in diagnosis of ADHD and Autism respectively.
- Aptitude Tests
These help in career guidance and vocational planning. David’s Battery of Differential Aptitudes (DBDA), Differential aptitudes Test (DAT),Generalized Aptitude Test Battery (GATB), Occupational Aptitude Survey and Interest Schedule (OASIS).
- Personality Evaluation
These are employed to get insights into the child’s emotional makeup. Some of the most popularly used tests with children include the House Tree Person test, Kinetic Family Drawings, Children’s Apperception Test.
Thus, psychological assessment provides invaluable information to the psychologist in understanding the issues your child may be grappling with. While the test results are not always diagnostic in themselves, they help pinpoint areas of strength and weakness, which can then be incorporated into the therapy and treatment plan.
Ms. Sukhada Gole-Kelkar
Counseling Psychologist & Hypnotherapist