Children are referred for a psychological assessment for many reasons. They may have attention or behavior problems at home or in school, be subjected to bullying, be depressed or anxious, or have a learning disorder. Often when kids are struggling in school or seem to be behind their peers developmentally, a counselor or teacher will suggest the child undergo a psychological assessment. The findings from this type of evaluation will let us know where the child excels and which areas he or she might need to address (for example: an undiagnosed learning disability). Dr. Ryan Seidman, the Clinical Director at our Children’s Center notes that, “Having your child evaluated can promote improvement in academic and emotional functioning.”
Who Performs a Psychological Assessment?Psychological assessments are done by highly trained child psychologists who are specialists in their fields. These mental health professionals evaluate the child’s strengths and weaknesses, then work with parents and teachers to come up with an approach that will help the child progress.
How is a Child Psychology Test Done?These assessments aren’t like “actual” tests can be and they aren’t something the child can study for. In fact, it is best if the child is relaxed during the evaluation, so the assessment isn’t a “pass or fail” test. During a psychological assessment, the psychologist will:
- Talk with the child (and later with their parents) to learn more about their behaviors and emotional skills. They will also look at the child’s neurological functioning in areas such as spatial processing. In some cases, they may also talk to the child’s teachers or others who know the child well.
- Observe the child during the evaluation. Depending on the reason for the assessment, the child psychologist may also visit the child at home or at school to further gauge their interactions with others.
- Have the child complete a standardized test. These tests have been taken by many different people and will allow the psychologist to compare your child’s results with those of others in order to evaluate a range of abilities. The psychologists want to know how the child functions in areas such as movement (dexterity) or behavior and in subjects like reading, writing and math.
- May review school records, medical records, or test interview or the child’s parents or teachers in order to learn more about the child.