By Dr. Irma Campos, Licensed Psychologist
As a passionate psychologist offering psychoeducational testing in Tampa, Florida, I am proud to provide a guide to understanding psychoeducational tessting. Psychological testing (inclusive of psychoeducational testing) is defined by the American Psychological Association as “a measurement procedure for assessing psychological characteristics in which a sample of an examinee’s behavior is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process.” Psychoeducational testing, also known as assessment or evaluation, is used by a licensed psychologist to understand how an individual performs on psychoeducational measures relative to her or his peers. An individual’s performance within one domain may also be compared to her or his performance within other domains. Ultimately, testing helps understand underlying constructs (e.g., intellectual ability, executive functioning) that cannot be easily observed. Notably, because psychology is a scientific and research-based field, these psychoeducational tests are reliable (i.e., produce similar results over time) and valid (i.e., measure the construct they are saying they measure). Psychoeducational testing is recommended and in some cases required in order to reach a conclusive diagnosis and offer recommendations based on that diagnosis. For example, in order to obtain academic accommodations for a learning disability, psychoeducational testing is required. ADHD Testing or ADD Testing by a trained psychologist is also highly recommended for a formal ADHD diagnosis. The same principle applies to Autism Spectrum Disorder. And even to identify a child/teen as gifted, testing is also required.
That leads me to discussing the need for testing. Psychoeducational testing can help clarify the existing problem that would otherwise remain ambiguous or difficult to treat. Many times, if a presenting problem is unclear, it is difficult to provide effective therapy, strategies, resources, and accommodations that can be beneficial. This is especially relevant for individuals struggling at work or in school, but this also extends beyond those settings.
For example, let’s say someone is having difficulties with learning new processes in their workplace. They may go to a psychologist and report difficulties with focusing on tasks, memorizing information in the immediate across subject areas, and engaging in multi-step mathematical processes. Although a psychologist may inquire and gather additional information, it may be difficult to determine the specificity of this client’s concern without the proper psychological testing to illustrate where the individual is currently performing relative to her or his peers. This situation is akin to going to a primary care physician’s office and reporting a range of symptoms that may be broad or possibly related to multiple conditions. The physician may have an idea of how to differentiate between conditions, but sometimes, this can prove to be challenging. So, the physician often orders additional “objective” tests. Then, the physician puts all of the pieces together to make a determination about what the problem is and what can be done in terms of addressing that problem.
If you or someone you care for are struggling with a psychoeducational concern that is unclear or requires testing, I recommend reaching out to a licensed psychologist who specializes in psychoeducational testing. Before you begin, I suggest just a few simple steps to get the process moving in the right direction.
Determine the goal and purpose of testing.
Provide what is requested from the outset to the psychologist conducting the testing. I also recommend doing your homework to know exactly what you need from the psychologist in order to reach your goal (e.g., specific academic accommodations to be discussed with a school psychologist).
Recognize the value of making this decision. I know it can be a significant financial and time-based commitment to pursue testing. But I often tell clients that if they pursue testing (if recommended), the value will be cumulative in terms of academic/work performance and psychological well-being.