What is Psychological Testing and Assessment?

Psychological assessment is a process in which a qualified mental health care provider assesses a person’s mental health to find a diagnosis and create a mental health care plan. Psychological testing is often the first step when someone seeks treatment for mental health symptoms.

The idea of a psychological test may seem frightening to some people due to the stigma of mental health care. It can be helpful to think of psychological testing, like diagnostic tests in other fields of medicine. If your arm is in pain, the doctor may recommend an x-ray to see what’s happening and make a treatment plan.

Similarly, if you live with mental, emotional, or behavioral issues that make life more difficult, you should see a qualified mental health care provider. They conduct psychological testing to give you the best possible care.

Psychological Tests vs. Assessments

During a psychological test, a mental health care provider will ask a set of standard questions about the patient’s symptoms. Providers then use these answers to determine whether someone meets the diagnostic criteria for a specific disorder. There are many types of psychological tests, each of which seeks to answer a particular question about the patient’s mental health status.

A psychological assessment allows mental health care providers to look at several types of information to gain a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s mental health. During a psychological assessment, a provider may look at:

  • Psychological test results
  • Informal conversations
  • Clinical interviews
  • School or work records
  • Conversations with the patient’s family, friends, teachers, or social workers

A provider then uses all of this information to make their diagnoses and design a treatment plan.

What to Expect During a Psychological Test

A psychological test is different from the tests that students take at school. With psychological testing, you cannot give an incorrect answer and you cannot fail. So long as you are honest with your provider, the test will be for your benefit.

Your provider may ask you the question aloud and then mark their answers, or they may give you a pencil and paper to complete it on your own. If you prefer one method or another, please let your provider know.

The exact questions are different for each test. In general, you should expect to see questions about symptoms you may or may not experience.

How Can I Prepare for a Psychological Test?

While you may like to prepare for tests at school, avoid “studying” for psychological tests. Instead, emotionally prepare to answer all questions honestly, even when it may be uncomfortable. Remember that the tests can only be as useful as you are honest.

If you still feel the need to prepare for your appointment, consider taking these steps:

  • Determine whether your insurance will cover the service
  • Make sure you know how to get to the clinic
  • Set an alarm to remind you about your appointment ahead of time
  • Reach out to loved ones for assistance as needed

At LifeStance Health, we strive to make psychological testing as comfortable as possible. Our providers are here to help you, and these tests are just the first step in that process. Please contact us today to set up your appointment and take the first step in your mental health care journey.