Psychological Assessments Are Used To Help Explain Behavior

Psychological and neuropsychological assessment is a sub-specialty of clinical psychology. While only licensed clinical psychologists are trained to administer psychological and neuropsychological assessments, many licensed psychologists choose to only provide other psychological or therapeutic services, such as therapy or consultation, but not psychological assessments. Physicians and neurologists are not trained to administer psychological and neuropsychological assessments, nor are social workers or psychiatrists; those professionals have their own areas of specialty in which they are licensed.
In general, however, every psychological treatment plan should be based on an evaluation of the individual’s psychological functioning BEFORE treatment begins and should include follow-up evaluations should the condition worsen or change to be sure the treatment is on the right track.
In addition to health assessments for medical personnel, psychological assessments can also be done to address a wide range of psychotherapeutic issues. Below are some examples of how psychological or nueropsychological assessments can be used to help in the applications of psychology to clinical issues:
• Development and attachment issues in very young children.
• Memory, attention and cognitive functions in adults and seniors.
• Assessment of personality.
• Assessment of functional behavioral disorders.
• Memory impairment due to anxiety, trauma or other issues.
• Treatment Plan Reviews and Second Opinions.

Often, such assessments are the ONLY means of understanding and explaining behavior

And psychologists have many, MANY tests from which to choose. A brief description of the categories of test available are noted below.

General Psychological Assessments

There are many types of assessments, each one focused on the different requirements of an individual, group and circumstance, but every such assessment is a variation of a psychological assessment. Psychological assessments tend to be understood as falling into two broad categories – Cognitive assessments and Behavioral assessments.

Cognitive evaluations are psychological assessments which tend to focus more on how an individual’s brain function (that’s the ‘cognitive’ or ‘thinking’ part) interacts with that person’s behavior. Cognitive testing is often also called a Neuropsychological Assessment – and we do that. This type of testing is often called for when there are concerns about someone’s memory, ability to reason rationally or understand others.

Behavioral evaluations are psychological assessments which tend to focus more on how an individual is interacting with his or her environment and how they are functioning in the real world. The emphasis here is on the emotions, attitudes, habits and other “behaviors” that everyone exhibits. In truth, every good psychological assessment focuses on both behavior and cognition to some extent because we are all thinking, feeling and experiential human beings. How we think, feel and experience is what comprises our psychological makeup. That is, we are all psychological beings and we interact with the world psychologically, not just physically.


Categories of Psychological Assessments

Before any psychological treatment or remediation can begin, it’s important to understand the nature of the problem or difficulty. A psychological assessment is the necessary first step in determining the strengths and weaknesses in an individual’s functioning when that functioning has been called into question, either by displaying actions that are unexpected or by not displaying actions that are expected, in a given circumstance or environment.

Individual Psychological Assessments

Psychological assessments involve the observation, measurement and evaluation of an individual’s or organization’s adaptive functioning in the modern world. Assessments are used to assess the developmental, behavioral, academic, psychological, neuropsychological and personality functioning of infants, children, adolescents and adults in a wide variety of circumstances ranging from career counseling to marriage compatibility, school performance to job performance, normative to criminal behavior, and  competence to guardianship.

There are literally thousands of psychological assessments available and all such assessments must be done by experienced, licensed and credentialed professionals to ensure that such assessments are not accidentally or deliberately misused to provide false or misleading information.?? We focus on the appropriate psychological assessment of infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults and seniors. We can do this because we have developmental view of individuals over their lifespan.

Group and Organizational Assessments

Psychological assessments may be conducted on the functioning of an individual, family or group. Examples of group assessments include assessments of public organizations such as schools, government agencies, non-profits and nursing homes as well as small-medium sized family-owned private businesses and typically focus on how to make the group or organization function better to meet its goals in dealing with customers, students, employees, vendors and contractors.

Forensic Assessments

Sometimes, the question of a person’s psychological functioning becomes a matter that involves the legal system, including the Probate, District or Superior Courts. Psychological Assessments done for use in the Courts are commonly referred to as Forensic Assessments. Such issues may involve competency, drug or alcohol abuse, divorce, juvenile matters, CHINS, allegations of child or elder abuse, domestic violence, being arrested or other issues.

Behavioral & Health Assessments

Common uses of such assessments include “health” behaviors such as smoking, obesity, eating disorders and other maladaptive behaviors which compromise an individual’s health. In general, we are able to assist physicians and staff with evaluation  and management of patients with dementia, sleep disorders, ADD, anxiety, panic, depression and the like. We are also able to offer cognitive and psychological tests such as Digits, Pegboard, Stroop, Trails, WAIS/WISC series, BNT, MMPI/MCMI and a host of other measurements and procedures for use in medical and forensic evaluation and management of patients and clients in a private practice atmosphere.

We assess and treat children, including very young children, who have serious medical issues, such as bed-wetting or encopresis, failure to thrive, diabetes. obesity and general non-compliance issues with following the treatment advice from their Primary Care Providers (PCPs). We also assess and treat adolescents, including those with Eating Disorders, cutting disorders and other self-injurious behaviors (SIB), and we also assess and treat adults and senior family members, including seniors, whether living at home with their families or in assisted or skilled-care facilities or rehab setting and who may have emotional or cognitive declines or competency or self-care issues.


We Take A Developmental Approach

??We have  a Lifespan Developmental focus on the assessment as well as the functioning of children, adolescents, adults and seniors, which means that we recognize that functioning over one’s lifespan is truly developmental in nature and grows over time, building on previous experiences and biopsychosocial functioning. A special area of focus in on the assessment of very young children, aged 5 and under.

Psychological, neuropsychological and personality assessments can be used in a multiplicity of ways and can be loosely grouped in the following areas:??Psychological assessments are multi-dimensional and are useful in a wide variety of personal, academic and institutional or organizational needs.


Grand Rounds: What is a “Psych Eval?” – and why would I want one? Part 1

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