― Dr. Bindu Kapoor - Counseling Psychologist
The purpose of this blog is to create awareness and add in some clarity related to Psychological Tests, Scales and Inventories. There are times when the Psychologist recommends some testing measures and the client wonders, why testing, what testing, how testing…..would you take my blood sample or what.
Psychological tests are used to assess the client’s situation and concerns. Psychological assessment helps to understand an individual’s functioning and behavior as to arrive at a diagnosis followed by interventions. A medical doctor is visited in case of stomach ache or fever, doctor in one go might prescribe medication but in case the ailment does not get fixed the doctor is likely to prescribe certain clinical tests to as certain where the illness is coming from. These test reports help the doctor understand which bacteria or virus needs to be treated.
Similarly on consulting an ophthalmologist, he too carries out series of tests. The results of these tests will help them arrive at a diagnosis and put you on the correct treatment plan, spectacles or just eye drops.
Similarly, Psychologists and Psychiatrists also require some test results to understand an individual’s functioning and behavior to arrive at right diagnosis and prognosis. The report is suggestive of how the person thinks, feels, behaves and reacts. Psychological assessments and reports are also used in assessing academic challenges, career planning and job application process.
Interviews, observation, written assessments, formal psychological tests are few ways to consolidate psychological assessment. The test formats may vary from pencil-paper tasks to computer-based ones. Activities such as puzzle-solving, drawing, logic problem solving, and memory games are few common ones incorporated in psychological testing. Some tests also use techniques—known as Projective techniques are also used in some tests, they intend to access the unconscious. The subject’s responses are analyzed via psychological interpretation. Rorschach test is the most common projective test, it aims to peep into the individual’s personality and emotional functioning. The significance of
Psychological testing encompasses the following different areas:
Mental Health Assessment
Includes information about the individual’s medical history, family details, and the current mental health status. It helps to explore if there is any mental health concern which needs to be addressed by the concerned Psychiatrist or the Psychologist.
Adaptive Behavior Assessment
It measures the social and practical skills of a person which ascertain one’s ability to function on a daily basis be it home, office or school. They are usually conducted along with cognitive tests.
An aptitude test measures a person’s ability to perform variety of tasks. It helps to manifest the dominant skill areas of an individual namely logical-reasoning skills, language skills, creative thinking etc. Career Counsellors carry out such tests to check the ability and aptitude of the students and candidates eligible for job placements.
Cognitive tests are designed in such a way so that problem solving, reasoning, vocabulary, comprehension and memory like areas. They are more commonly known as IQ tests and are widely used in the field of education to identify a person’s capabilities and potential.
These tests are administered on students who are lagging behind in academics. They are instrumental in suggesting whether the concern is learning difficulty or disability and further more which specific area or subject is the immediate need for intensive remediations.
Forensic Psychological Assessment
Forensic testing mostly is used in the legal areas. It helps to see whether the suspect is capable of committing the crime he has been subjected to. It includes cognitive, personality, and neuropsychological tests.
Neuropsychological tests monitor the brain functioning as to identify any problems related to it. In case of head injury one might have to undergo neuropsychological tests to check brain’s ability to retain information.
It emphasizes on the personality traits of an individual like extraversion, introversion, feeling dominated or brain dominated.
It is very vital to note that psychological tests are not meant to be interpreted solely on the basis of test scores, other variables like age, family dynamics, exposure, immediate environmental conditions and physical health are borne in mind at the time of report making. It is also worthy to mention here that the psychological tests recommended by a Psychologist (child psychologist) or found on any reliable website or app are all standardized with high reliability and validity.
It is indeed sad to realize that owing to ample of myths and misinformation attached to mental health field people in our society get intimidated when psychological assessment or testing is prescribed for a child, adolescent or an adult. Needless to mention and accept that everyone has flaws and personality quirks but the fact that it will be documented or would come on surface is quite an apprehension faced by many. It tends to encroach the comfort zone.
Had it been a pleasant state of affairs to acknowledge that if such assessments can touch our lives on positive note. For e g. educational assessment done for a child facing academic challenges at early school years can help the parent know which area (reading, writing, copying down, spelling or math) of academic proficiency needs to be worked upon than believing in the old conditioned statements like “ sab baad mein parhna likhna seekh jaate hai”. Believe me I have heard infinite such statements in my journey of being a School Psychologist or Child Psychologist when I use to pursue parents to get their wards’ IQ and SLD( specific learning disability) assessment done for the school to understand the child’s concern in a comprehensive manner. Moreover it would also bust the mystery if the child is Dyslexic, Dyscalculic or Dysgraphic OR the condition is simply a learning difficulty.
They also help to diagnose other conditions like anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, cognitive or developmental milestones & delay, behavioral problem, memory problems, communication disorders, dementia, memory problems, visual and auditory learning disorders, and giftedness.
Benefits of Psychological Tests:
Ø Disclosure of developmental milestones & abilities of clients
Ø Increased accuracy of diagnosis
Ø Comprehensive information about current levels of functioning
Ø An understanding of the problematic behaviors
Ø Highlights red flag areas
Ø Strengths of an individual to be incorporated in treatment plan
Ø Broad targeted goals for interventions
Hence the idea here is to convey that let us all contribute in developing a culture of happy, healthy and hearty society where mental health is put high on priority. People can freely discuss and share their views and opinions on how they think and feel on a particular issue. They don’t shy to approach a therapist or take up online psychometric testing to see where they stand and further get helped by a professional in person.