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Psychological assessment involves a comprehensive evaluation of certain aspects of the thoughts, feelings and behavior of an individual.
It is a process that involves drawing a total picture of a person from multiple sources, such as measures of normal and abnormal personality, tests of ability or intelligence and tests of interests or attitudes, often combined with information from personal interviews.
Collateral information (information from other sources) is also collected about personal, occupational or medical facts, such as from records or from interviews with parents, spouses, teachers, or previous therapists or physicians.
A psychological test is one of the sources of data used within the process of assessing the thoughts, feelings or behaviors of a subject; usually more than one test is used, however.
Psychological assessment, per se, is a complex, detailed and in-depth procedure. Typical purposes for psychological assessment include:
-providing a scientifically-validated diagnosis for treatment;
-to assess the level of particular areas of functioning or disability, often for educational settings;
-to help select the best type of treatment or to scientifically assess treatment results;
-to help courts decide issues including child custody, appropriate legal consequences for drunk driving, battery, domestic violence or competency to stand trial;
-or to help assess job applicants or employees and provide career development counseling or training.
IQ/Achievement and Personality Tests
There are several categories of tests that are commonly used:
IQ tests purport to be measures of intelligence, while achievement tests are measures of actual outcome on measures of comprehension in various taught areas. IQ (or cognitive) tests and achievement tests are common norm-referenced tests. In these tests, a series of tasks is presented to the subject and his responses are graded according to prescribed guidelines.
After the tests are completed, the results are usually compiled and compared to the responses of a norm group, usually composed of people the same age or grade level as the subject. Individually-administered tests are usually more comprehensive, reliable, valid and generally have better psychometric characteristics than those that are group-administered. However, they are more expensive to administer because of the need for a trained psychologist to be present.
Psychological measures of personality are often described as “objective.”
These tests have a restricted response format, such as allowing for true or false answers or rating using an ordinal scale. Prominent examples of objective personality tests include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III, Child Behavior Checklist, Symptom Checklist 90 and the Beck Depression Inventory.
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