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Psychological assessment is typically a process of interviews, observations, testing, data analysis, and feedback that provides clarification about and recommendations for addressing persistent and distressing emotional, behavioral, learning, and/or other challenges. In some cases, assessment aims to answer very specific questions that are posed by outside referral sources such as other treatment providers (e.g., therapists, neurologists, psychiatrists, etc.), educators, workers compensation, disability, and mental health services agencies.
At Spark Center, we approach assessment collaboratively and therapeutically. In doing so, we aim to achieve an individualized, contextualized, and therefore deeper, more complex understanding of the challenges our clients are having. During our assessment process, we try to keep dialogue, feedback, and different perspectives open to establish as much clarity and potential for growth as possible. This approach to assessment has been shown in research to facilitate positive and meaningful therapeutic change in the clients who participate.
Here is a list of common types of assessments and their purpose:
Evaluates cognitive (e.g., attention/concentration, reasoning, memory, information processing, etc.), psychosocial, emotional, and behavioral functioning as well as personality characteristics. The data gathered from related measures typically help psychologists identify patterns of thinking and behavior that undermine or bolster potential for adaptive functioning, and guide diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations, including referrals for therapeutic support or further examination by a psychiatrist (for medication), neuropsychologist, or neurologist.
Evaluates cognitive/intellectual functioning and academic achievement (e.g., math, reading, written language, etc.) to aid in identifying learning-based challenges and/or neurodevelopmental, behavioral, and socio-emotional challenges that interfere with academic success. Findings typically help guide interventions and/or accommodations that can be implemented into a 504 Plan or into a more formal, Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Treatment Enhancement Assessment
Answers unresolved questions in ongoing therapy that require thorough investigation in order to determine what is limiting progress or to develop a more effective treatment plan.
Pre-treatment Screening & Evaluations
Identifies strengths/challenges, important areas for therapeutic exploration/change, and patterns that are interfering with successful relationships, personal, and professional growth to guide treatment planning; also may provide explanations for limited success in previous treatment, particularly when complex problems require more in-depth consideration.
Questions of Fitness
Provides information specific to answering questions that are pertinent to decisions that are being made based on a client’s psychological functioning (e.g., disability/medical leave determination, return to work, etc.)
Our assessment process usually includes the use of formal psychological measures with the intent of trying to observe and describe together how clients approach themselves, the world, and others when faced with unique tasks.
The test instruments involve answering paper and pencil or computer-assisted questionnaires, taking part in tasks that assess thought and emotion, or novel tasks that might require creativity and interpretation. The sum of our assessment interviews and discussions, psychologist and client feedback, and formal test data are integrated for the purpose of writing a comprehensive report that summarizes our work together.
Our reports are written in accessible language, aim to be useful to both those who participate in the assessment and those who will use the information to develop a treatment plan, and are descriptive, individualized, and structured.