Psychological Testing in Atlanta, GA
A patient’s treatment plan depends on many different factors, including their specific symptoms, medical history, and a series of evaluations if they are being treated for psychological, emotional, or cognitive disorders. When people hear about mental health evaluations, they are often confused about the differences between psychiatric evaluation, mental health screening, psychological testing, neuropsychological testing, or academic related testing. There are many types of tests that can be done, and each has its own unique properties, strengths, and purposes.
What is Psychological Testing?
Psychological testing consists of a comprehensive assessment performed by a clinical psychologist. It is made up of a clinical interview and an assortment of other psychological tests, used to reveal various cognitive and emotional characteristics of a person in order to better understand and thus treat a range of psychological and emotional disorders. Tests include cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and personality assessments, as well the gathering and analysis of information through interviews with the patient’s doctors, therapists, parents, and other friends and family members.
The insight gained from psychological testing helps to get an understanding of the patient’s worldview and the specifics of what they are struggling with, and in turn can lead to a clear diagnosis and treatment plan. Psychological testing is useful when diagnosing psychological disorders such as ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and ASD. In children, tests can help with identifying whether or not a child has a learning disability or another condition that would impact their ability to succeed academically.
The overall goal of psychological testing is to diagnose a condition, disease, or underlying cause of the patient’s struggle. It is useful for narrowing down the understanding of a patient to pinpoint as specifically as possible what the patient is dealing with and how to treat them.
Neuropsychological Testing vs Psychological Testing
Neuropsychological testing is a term that is often used interchangeably with psychological testing. However, while there is some overlap in their methods and uses, they are not exactly the same.
Psychologists who perform a neuropsychological evaluation must be specially trained to complete the exam. Clinical neuropsychologists have a specific background that makes them qualified to perform these evaluations that clinical psychologists, who generally perform psychological testing, do not have.
Neuropsychological testing is done when it is suspected that there is an underlying neurological condition that is causing the patient’s issues. For example, while psychological testing may be able to identify symptoms of ADHD, neuropsychological testing can identify the underlying neurocognitive causes and provide more detail on the severity of the disorder.
Testing is done with a variety of tests, puzzles, games, and other activities to get an understanding of specific, cognitive areas of the brain, including intelligence, executive functioning, memory, attention, and language. Reasons to perform neuropsychological testing include language delays in children, issues with fine motor skills, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Autism disorders, and learning disabilities.
Neuropsychological testing also focuses more on the brain’s role in the subject’s behavior, and looks at the entire functioning of the whole person, as opposed to just psychological functioning. Evaluations are used to understand the brain’s strengths and weaknesses, and therefore its overall role in functioning. The goal of neuropsychological testing is therefore to understand the neurocognitive issues present in a patient’s behavior. While psychological testing may measure the psychological issues, neuropsychological testing can pinpoint why those issues occur from a neurocognitive perspective.
Neuropsychological testing in particular is often used to more clearly defined functional deficit such as a vision perception weakness, oculomotor weaknesses, problems with language processing, or motor difficulties that can hamper academic performance in addition to measurements of attention, capabilities organized behavior, and problem solving capabilities (as often indicated by IQ testing).
Academic Testing vs. Psychological Testing
School systems often are required to conduct performance measures centered usually around academic performance skills, where these skills are often compared to intellectual capabilities in order to define existing learning disabilities that may require special education intervention. Thus, the kind of academic testing administered by an education specialist or school psychologist and school system is often limited to information pertaining to recognizing specific intervention protocols and strategies to hopefully improve academic performance.
While these professionals often perform a very comprehensive evaluation specific to educational needs, they are typically not licensed within a state to provide a formal clinical diagnosis. Clinical mental health diagnosis often needs to be provided by a licensed mental health provider in order for the patient to gain access to some forms of therapy services or therapeutic programs to address their psychiatric or psychological needs.
Neuropsychological testing oftentimes may go several steps forward in providing performance measures or neuro-functional measures that may clarify underlying brain dysfunction involvement and functional impairments contributing to behavioral problems or performance limitations. For example, a child who is struggling academically is often requested to have a school system provided psychoeducational battery to determine a learning disability and what potential behavioral issues that may hamper confound academic performance (this may include various behavior measures indicating attention deficits, emotional distress, or oppositional behaviors).
Having done this, the patient may still not have an established differential diagnosis, but this information is pertinent in defining educational or behavioral interventions to optimize the child’s performance in an educational setting. Psychological or neuropsychological testing by a licensed provider can establish a differential diagnosis which may be needed or warranted to receive certain third party reimbursement services for therapy and/or justify the usage of medications to treat certain disorders.
Mind & Motion’s Psychological Testing Services
Mind & Motion offers a range of psychological testing services to help evaluate, diagnose, and treat whatever challenges you are facing. We treat a wide range of psychological and emotional conditions, including anxiety disorders, developmental and intellectual disabilities, executive functioning disorders, traumatic brain injury, and much more. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help to improve your quality of life.