FAQs about Psychological Testing

What is Psychological Testing?

Psychological/psycho-educational testing is highly regarded in the academic and psychotherapeutic communities as a concrete and specific means of assessment and communication of specific difficulties and problem areas. Psychological testing refers to the battery of tests administered to evaluate an individual’s intellectual, learning, emotional and/or behavioral functioning. While the test battery varies depending upon the referral question(s), it typically includes a structured interview; an assessment of intellectual capability; learning/processing measures; measures of attention and memory; academic achievement measures; projective measures; self-report surveys, parent and teacher surveys/checklists; and in the case of children, classroom/school observations.

How will psychological testing help my child?

Testing can help the parent, child’s teachers, therapist and others who are helping the child guide him/her in the right direction. In cases such as dyslexia or other learning disability, testing will let the parent and teacher know exactly what steps need to be taken to help the child/adolescent learn.

How will I know when my child should be tested?

Children and adolescents are typically referred for an assessment by their parents, pediatrician, or school for evaluation of:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning disabilities and learning/processing problems
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Mood disorders like depression and anxiety (deleted from next bullet)
  • Emotional difficulties such as: crying and/or extreme sadness that persists over time; repeatedly stating that no-one likes them, that they have no friends or that they are no good; being repeatedly silly and/or laughing during serious situations; extreme anger over minor irritations and annoyances; excessive worrying or nervousness.
  • Psychological factors associated with medical conditions
  • Disruptive behavior disorders such as: defiance toward a parent or other authority figure (such as a teacher), hostility or extreme anger toward a sibling or peer, extreme shyness or withdrawal from peers, avoidance of homework or other expected chores.
  • Parent-child relational problems
  • Social problems
  • Failure to perform up to expected standards such as: consistently being unmotivated or unwilling to do work that is required – not because the work is too difficult, which is what the child/adolescent may state, but because they are unwilling to make the effort. This may occur only in specific situations, such as at school (or even in a particular class) or it may involve all areas of the individual’s life (sports, home chores, homework, and school).

What instruments do you use?

The assessment instruments I frequently utilize in my practice include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • WPPSI-III-Wechsler Primary Preschool Scales of Intelligence-Third Edition
  • WISC-IV-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition
  • WAIS-IV-Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition
  • KABC-II-Kaufman Assessment Battery of Children-Second Edition
  • W-J-III-Ach-Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement-Third Edition Normative Update
  • E/ROWPVT-Expressive/Receptive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test
  • SCAN-C-Test of Auditory Processing Disorders in Children
  • SCAN-A-Test of Auditory Processing Disorders in Adolescents and Adults
  • VMI- Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor-Integration (Visual Perception, Motor Coordination, and Full versions)-Sixth Edition
  • LACT-Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test
  • Goodenough—Harris Draw-A-Person (intellectual maturity scale)
  • DBRS-Disruptive Behavior Rating Scales
  • CBCL/TRF/YSR-Achenbach Behavior Checklists
  • PSI-Parenting Stress Index
  • SIPA-Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents
  • BRIEFA-Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning-Adult Version
  • TSC-Trauma Symptom Checklist
  • GARS-2-Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-Second Edition
  • CARS2-Childhood Autism Rating Scale-Second Edition
  • ASDS-Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnostic Scale
  • MMPI-2-Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Second Edition
  • MMPI-A-Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescents
  • Rorschach
  • Roberts Aperception Test for Children 2
  • House-Tree-Person
  • Machover Draw-A-Person
  • Sentence Completion
  • Children’s Apperception Test
  • Thematic Apperception Test
  • TCTS-Thurston Cradock Test of Shame

How long does the testing take?

Generally, a full battery of psychological tests can take several hours to administer (often administered to a child in several one to one and a half hour time periods to avoid fatigue and opposition). Testing sessions for children are typically scheduled during the morning, when they are likely to function at their best. I will determine if only a few tests from the full battery need to be administered to pin point or rule out a particular problem and thus, avoid an unnecessarily lengthy and expensive procedure.

What should I tell my child about the appointment?

Preparing your child for testing will minimize anxiety and encourage cooperation.

  • Days Before the testing:
    Try to avoid calling it “testing,” as this word makes many children anxious.
    Make sure your child knows they will be meeting alone with the psychologist, but that a parent will be nearby.
    Explain that children learn in different ways and that testing will help parents and teachers understand how he/she learns best.
  • The day of testing:
    Make sure your child is well rested and has eaten a good breakfast.
    Remind your child what the day will be like.
    To avoid fatigue, breaks will be taken during the testing to allow your child to use the restroom and have a drink or snack. Children also often like to talk with their parent(s) during the breaks.
    The day will include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories as well as some school-like tasks like reading and math. While your child will be challenged, he or she will probably have fun with some of the tasks.

What happens after the testing?

I score and interpret a whole picture of your child and write a report in a suitable form for school personnel or a psychotherapist to use in developing a curriculum or treatment plan. The results should yield a wealth of information useful to the parent, educational institution or other professionals with whom you are working to make your child/adolescent’s emotional, educational and/or vocational life more healthy, satisfying and successful. A written report is provided at the feedback/results review session or within one week of that appointment. The report provides a written record of the testing that was completed, and provides specific recommendations so that parents, educational staff, physicians, and other professionals working with your child can coordinate a treatment plan that will enable your child to succeed.
You may be asked to sign a release so that the report can be sent directly to certain professionals. Reports are generally not sent directly to schools, as I have found that it is typically more helpful for parents to hand-carry a copy of the report directly to the school personnel who need to see the results and recommendations.

  • Written from the perspective of child/adolescent evaluations; these same after-testing procedures apply to adult evaluations, as well.)

What about educational testing at public schools?

A Word of Caution: It is important to note that psycho-educational testing is available to all school-aged children and adolescents, free of charge, through their public home school. However, what parents should be aware of, is that school psychologists and other school personnel interpret test results primarily for the purpose of determining eligibility for special education. Furthermore, their training is typically limited in scope and may not take additional variables into account; as well, they may not have the available time and resources to provide a complete assessment battery in the school setting. Thus, they will be able to interpret some, but not all of the information available and will not be able to provide you with a full, and perhaps, truly accurate picture of your child/adolescent.

Sad boy

Testing Children

Psychological Testing for CHILDREN Pre-school through elementary school-aged children can be tested in the comfort of your home, or if you prefer, you can come to my office. Children can be tested to assess for: social and emotional difficulties, including anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders; Attention Deficit, Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and other disruptive behavior …

View page »

Testing Teenagers

Psychological testing for TEENAGERS and ADOLESCENTS (age 14 – 19) Students in middle school and high school may experience difficulty adjusting to increasing academic demands, or the pressures associated with standardized testing and the preparations for college application. You may wonder if your adolescent is struggling with a specific learning disorder or an emotional problem, …

View page »

Testing Adults

Psychological testing for adults Psychological testing for adults can be done in the comfort of your own home, or in conveniently located offices in Encino, Westwood and Culver City. It is typically used to provide diagnostic clarification and treatment recommendations for treating therapists and physicians. Psychological evaluations may also be required by colleges, adoption agencies, …

View page »