Should I Get Psychological Testing?
Psychological testing can be a beneficial resource to support your mental health. But do you need to participate in testing? In order to determine this, you need to know what psychological testing is (and what it isn’t).
Psychological testing isn’t a one-hour assessment, intake, or clinical interview that is conducted by a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist/counselor. These assessments usually consist of an interview or brief assessment tools that can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Psychological testing, however, is conducted by a psychologist and it takes several hours to complete. You will likely meet with the psychologist multiple times and will need to complete numerous assessment tools, some of which are lengthy. If you are unsure, it’s best to ask your provider if you are scheduled to participate in psychological testing and/or if you have already completed psychological testing.
Now that you know what psychological testing is, why would you consider it?
Legal or Employment Requirements
Psychological testing might be required for certain legal or employment requirements. For example, your lawyer may encourage you to complete psychological testing, or you may be required to do so by a judge. Some employers, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), require you to complete psychological testing before they hire you. Psychological testing can also help you advocate for your needs at work if you need accommodations or wish to seek disability benefits. Be aware that the results of your psychological testing won’t always be to your benefit. For example, even though you may need accommodations at work due to anxiety, your psychological testing results might not clearly demonstrate your anxiety, and thus the testing results will likely not state that you need such accommodations. Also, you may not be hired or you might lose legal battles due to test results.
Do you need an accurate diagnosis? If so, you might consider participating in psychological testing. Many therapists do not diagnose severe or pervasive disorders during an initial clinical interview. You might need to work with your therapist for an extensive period of time before they can accurately assess whether you meet the criteria for certain diagnoses. In this situation, psychological testing may provide a diagnosis of a severe or pervasive psychological illness in a shorter period of time.
Have you received many conflicting diagnoses? If so, you might want to consider participating in psychological testing, which can provide diagnostic clarification. It’s common for clients who’ve participated in multiple mental health services to receive many different diagnoses. For example, your psychiatrist might provide you with one diagnosis, your therapist with a different diagnosis, and your primary care doctor with yet another, different diagnosis. Psychological testing is able to clear up this issue due to its inclusion of many standardized instruments.
Most psychological testing provides detailed treatment recommendations which can help you and your mental health providers better plan your treatment. Here are a few recommendations that psychological testing may provide:
- Participation in individual, family, couples, or group therapy.
- Participation in a specific type of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
- Participation in peer support groups or community events.
- Completing an assessment with a medical doctor to rule out medical issues.
- Completing an assessment with a psychiatrist to explore the need for medication support.
- Changes that need to occur in the home or at work.
Deciding to participate in psychological testing isn’t easy. You need to consider the time commitment, the positive or negative impact that the results may have upon you, and the financial burden. Some insurance companies may not fully cover the expense of psychological testing, so it’s best to know what your financial investment will be before you schedule it.
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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