Diagnostic assessment is really just a fancy word for saying psychological testing. Sometimes, you might hear a psychologist call it a “battery.” A battery simply refers to all of the data compiled from different tests about one person. When people hear the word “psychological testing” it often gets paired with anxiety and fear. You might ask yourself questions like, what does that mean? Why would I need that? Is there something wrong with me? What kinds of things do I have to do? Well, friends, fear not, I am here to answer all of those questions.
There are many reasons people choose to come in for testing. Some people might notice something that might have bothered them for a while, but it’s been causing them extra problems recently. Some people might notice something going on that they’ve never noticed before that’s really impacting different areas of their lives. If this sounds like something you’ve been experiencing, psychological testing might be a good option for you! Sometimes, therapists choose to refer their clients for testing. If this happens, it’s not because there is anything wrong with you. Most of the time when therapists refer their clients for testing, it is because they want a clearer picture of what’s going on. Also, testing provides some really useful information about you that could help your therapist work with you more effectively.
Psychological testing is an intricate process. Every site that does it handles it a little differently, but the format is essentially the same. First, you’d come in for an intake session. At Sankofa, it’s about an hour long. Doing an intake is really important, because it gives the examiner a chance to get to know the client before testing begins. It’s the examiner’s opportunity to gather background information, and hear the client speak in his or her own words. The intake gives you the opportunity to express why you’re coming in for testing and to voice any questions or concerns you have.
After the intake, the actual assessment is next. Sometimes, people come in for the intake and testing all in the same day, but sometimes not. It typically depends on the site doing testing, the examiner’s schedule, the client’s schedule, and which tests are being administered. Some tests can take 10 minutes to complete, and some can take three hours. The reason for referral will determine which tests are chosen, and how many are given. Some clients might need to come in for testing on two separate days to get everything completed. Different assessments call for different tasks. It’s normal to be nervous about how well you’re going to do, but your examiner is not there to judge you.
After testing is over, the next step is the feedback session. At Sankofa, we typically like to do feedback two weeks after the last date of testing. Why two weeks? Well, scoring and interpreting all of the data of all the tests is a really time consuming process! We work really hard to get a full picture of the person being tested. In addition to scoring and interpreting, we also have to write the report. When that is complete, we will have a session with you to go over the results. At Sankofa, the feedback session is an hour. During that session, we will walk you through various scores and results, and get feedback from you as well. It’s important for us to hear how you feel about the results, and any questions you have. During feedback, we will provide recommendations that we think would help you with whatever it is you came in for.
When you come in for testing, it’s really important that you are rested and ready to go. It can be a tiresome process, and if you need a break, just ask! Also, if you’re on any medications at the time of testing, it’s important to tell your examiner. Your examiner is there to make you feel comfortable, and if you have any questions, ask them! If I could give someone advice coming in for a diagnostic assessment, I’d tell them to be as open and honest as possible.
If you’re bringing a child in for testing, the steps are all the same. During the intake, it is important for the parent to be there with the child. At some point, the examiner might want to talk to both you and your child separately. During testing, it is customary for the child to work one on one with the examiner. A parent must be present during the feedback session.
Written By: Jessica Garcia, diagnostic extern
For more information on psychological assessments, you can visit our Sankofa assessments page