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Psychological Evaluation and Testing

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KEY POINTS

  • A psychological evaluation is a way to answer questions about possible mental and emotional problems. The request for an evaluation may come from the court, school, healthcare provider, or parents.
  • The psychologist usually starts with an interview with your child that lasts at least an hour. The psychologist may also talk with parents and teachers, review medical records, and decide what tests are needed. Psychological tests can help identify what the problem is, how severe it is, what it will mean for the child, and what can be done to help.
  • After all interviews and tests are completed, you will receive a report with results and treatment options that might help your child.

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What is a psychological evaluation?

A psychological evaluation is a way to answer questions about:

  • How your child becomes aware of things and understands them
  • The way your child thinks, reasons, and remembers
  • Your child’s moods, anxiety, and ability to know what’s real

Psychological testing is used to find your child’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas. The results can give parents, healthcare providers and therapists, and schools the information needed to be sure that everyone is doing is what is best for your child.

Evaluations are usually given by psychologists.

When is it used?

The request for an evaluation may come from the court, school, healthcare provider, or parents. Testing may be needed to:

  • Answer legal questions about abuse, violence, and criminal behavior
  • Help decide who should have custody of your child
  • Find out if your child should be in a gifted or special needs program at school
  • Find out if your child has a learning disability or an intellectual disability
  • Assess brain damage after an accident or injury
  • Evaluate the risk of harm to self or others, whether your child has lost contact with reality, or if your child has mood or anxiety problems that need treatment.

How is it done?

The psychologist usually starts with an interview with your child that lasts at least an hour. The psychologist may also talk with parents and teachers, review medical records, and decide what tests are needed.

Interviews

The psychologist will speak with your child. He or she will ask questions about:

  • School, home, and friends
  • Moods and worries
  • How your child thinks about himself
  • Illnesses, injuries, and symptoms
  • Interests and goals
  • Drug and alcohol use

Parents may be asked questions such as:

  • What you see as the problem
  • Your expectations
  • How your child gets along with friends and other family members
  • Your child's interests and hobbies
  • Your concerns about your child's emotions or physical abilities
  • Problems your child has had at different ages
  • How your child has handled problems in the past

Your child's teacher may be asked about:

  • Problem behaviors and what has been done about them
  • How the child is doing in school
  • How your child gets along with other children
  • Your child's strengths
  • Ideas to help solve the problem

Tests

There are many kinds of psychological tests. These tests can help identify what the problem is, how severe it is, what it will mean for the child, and what can be done to help. Your child may have tests to:

  • Check how well your child can control impulses or use good judgment
  • Check if their behavioral problems are caused by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, or another mental health problem
  • Measure how your child performs on an intelligence test compared to other children of the same age
  • Check for brain damage by testing thinking skills such as language and memory
  • Identify his personality style, mental and emotional problems, and strengths and weaknesses
  • Check for learning disabilities or problems with vision, hearing, or movement
  • Help identify those who might do well in programs for gifted children

After all interviews and tests are completed, you will receive a report that shows the results. The report will also give you, as well as your child’s school, healthcare provider, and therapist ideas for treatment options to help your child. Usually you will meet with the psychologist who will explain the results and answer questions.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-01-22
Last reviewed: 2016-01-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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