A psychological evaluation can be a key part of your therapy journey. It gathers information about how you think, feel, behave, and much more.
If you or a loved one have just started therapy, you might have been told that you’ll receive a psychological evaluation.
These evaluations include a series of tests and assessments similar to the ones given in any other medical office. They’re used to provide your mental health professional with valuable insights into the symptoms that you might be having and guide your course of treatment.
What is a psychological evaluation?
A psychological evaluation is often thought of as the first line of defense in diagnosing and treating a mental health condition. Performed by a psychologist, it helps them gain an understanding of the severity and duration of your symptoms.
Tests and assessments are the two main components used in an evaluation. The testing part of an evaluation typically includes using formal tests, or “norm-referenced” tests. These are standardized tests that measure an individual’s ability to learn and understand several concepts.
Standardized tests, for example, can measure your reading ability compared to others of your same age and grade or intellectual level.
In a psychological evaluation, these tests can be adapted to measure whether an individual might have a particular condition or disorder.
An assessment, on the other hand, can include formal tests, like standardized ones, and informal tests, which are those that measure your performance and progress on certain activities.
Common components of an assessment include:
surveys and tests
medical and school history
Why are psychological evaluations done?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) points out several signs and symptoms that might be an indication a psychological evaluation might be needed. These include the following:
changes in mood
changes in your sleep or eating habits
trouble performing your usual tasks
a lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, do know that help is available — and that a psychological evaluation can be an important first step towards treatment and recovery.