Psychological testing is a process of evaluating an individual through the administration of standardized and formal empirically derived assessments. The goal of testing is to answer a question about a person’s level of functioning or ability (cognitive, academic, social, emotional, or behavioral) and arrive at an accurate diagnosis and appropriate interventions.
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Psychoeducational testing examines the individual’s functioning in the areas of cognitive abilities, memory and attention, executive functioning, visual/spatial and visual/motor functioning, as well as social-emotional functioning. Each test battery is individually tailored based on the difficulties the person is experiencing at intake. Formal 1:1 testing spans between 6-10 hours over multiple test sessions. A comprehensive report is always included at the end of the testing process, which outlines all of the testing results and a plan of action.
Neuropsychological Testing is typically considered the most comprehensive level of testing. It examines learning and behavior in relation to an individual’s brain and incorporates knowledge of brain development, organization, and functioning into the report findings. Neuropsychological testing covers all the same areas as a psychoeducational test battery and takes it a step further: that extra step is to understand the deficits that the individual exhibits in relation to brain functions. For this reason, formal 1:1 testing lasts between 8-14 hours.
Behavior Observations and Screening
Sometimes parents are hesitant about jumping into a full testing process. Particularly for young children, we are often asked to provide a behavioral observation of a child’s functioning. In these cases, we typically observe children at school in a variety of structured and unstructured activities, paying careful attention to their cognitive functioning, social skills, language skills, and general classroom behavior. We aim to be “a fly on the wall” in the child’s classroom so that we can truly see a child’s natural behavior. While behavior observations are more subjective and less detailed than formal testing, they do provide us with a wealth of information about a child’s skills and daily functioning, which we then provide to the parents, and together, we make a decision about what steps to take next.
We provide testing to children, teens and adults who may be struggling with developmental, cognitive, learning, social, or emotional issues. We test children as young as 2 years of age. Typical concerns for children and adults are:
• Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Processing Difficulties
• Learning Disabilities
• Academic Underachievement
• Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses
• Diagnostic Clarification
• Personality Assessment
• Test accommodations evaluation (e.g. extended time) for standardized tests such as SAT, ACT. LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT
The Testing Process
The testing process is individually tailored to each person and tests are hand selected to answer the questions with which the individual/family begins the testing process. The process takes an average of 2-3 months. We begin with a thorough intake interview, during which we obtain important background information relating to development, as well as educational, medical, and family history. For most children, we conduct an in-school behavior observation which allows us to see the child’s academic and social/emotional functioning in their natural learning environment. The in-office testing appointments include the administration of various standardized tests backed by years of research that allow us to rule in/out various issues and understand how the individual functions academically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. After a series of testing sessions, we require several weeks to compile all the data and crunch all the numbers. A detailed written report is prepared and you are then invited back for a feedback session, during which we explain all of the tests administered, the results, and most importantly the implications of those results. The feedback session (and written report) conclude with a detailed list of recommendations for addressing every problem that was uncovered during the testing process: solutions, interventions, resources, and other steps you can take to mitigate and treat the problem(s) at hand.
Most clients spend a number of months in therapy. It’s hard to answer exactly how many sessions a client will need, although it is a common question that we get asked. Our goal is to facilitate true change and we know that does not happen in a matter of just a few weeks. Just as each person’s history and life circumstances are unique, so will their therapy process be different and thus the time spent in therapy will vary.
Perhaps you’re concerned about a possible attention issue? Maybe it’s years of academic under-achievement? Maybe you’ve noticed multiple delays in your child’s development? Perhaps your child struggles to make friends, or regulate their emotions or behaviors? Sometimes it’s that you or your child can’t keep up at school or on the job? Perhaps that last parent-teacher conference didn’t go as you had hoped or planned? Maybe just maybe your child is super bored and you have a hunch they are gifted? These are all great reasons to seek out testing. Sometimes parents don’t know if their child needs testing or therapy, and if both, in which order?!