• Dr. Carrie Jaffe

The 3 Components of a Psychological Assessment: What You Can Expect

If you or a family member is seeing a psychologist, a psychological assessment may be scheduled at some point. The psych assessment helps the psychologist to have a better understanding about the client's behavior, needs, and personality. There are generally three main components to the assessment. Continue reading to find out more, so you can know what to expect.


1. Interviews

The interview is a valuable part of any psych assessment. It is typically informal and gives the participant the opportunity to provide information in their own words. If the assessment is for a child, parents, teachers, and other caregivers may also be interviewed. If the psychological assessment is being conducted on an adult, then typically only the adult is interviewed.


The interview can range from between 30-60 minutes. During this time, participants will be asked questions about their family background, work, school, personal history, and other life experiences.


2. Tests

Psychologists will also want to conduct several tests, both objective and subjective. These tests are much more formal than interviews.


Norm-referenced tests are designed to test a specific part of the participant’s personality, ability, or knowledge against a standard condition. Some areas that may be tested using this method include reading, visual-motor skills, adaptive behavior, and intelligence. The results are provided as an objective score, so it can be fair for all who take the test.


The psychologist may choose a set of informal tests or assessments. While the norm-referenced tests are objective, the informal assessments are subjective tests that are conducted under various conditions. They do not have a standard to be compared to and are generally used with caution. However, they still can provide valuable information to the psychologist. Some examples of informal assessments include sampling the participant's language skills and seeing how the participant reacts to various cues.


3. Observations

Lastly, the psychologist will want to conduct one or more observations, which, unlike interviews or tests, is conducted in the participant's natural setting, such as home or school. This allows the psychologist to see their client function and interact with others in their daily life. The observation provides further information to help develop the best treatment plan for the participant.


Understanding the parts of a psychological assessment can help you better prepare for the process. Your psychologist wants to help you, and these tools will help provide answers to develop the best treatment for your needs.

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