It is important to get the right assessment and diagnosis when something goes wrong. Whether it is a concern about your health, your car, or your computer, seeking help early and receiving the right intervention goes a long way to resolve the issue.
In the context of mental health, psychological assessment is like shining a bright light in the dark to help you find what you are looking for. It sheds light on a patient’s mental health issues so we can offer help to meet their individual needs accurately.
Over the years, the tools for psychological assessment have been refined and sharpened. With these tools, we are better able to understand the complexities of mental health in our modern world. However, it is as important that the psychologist selects the right tools to accurately diagnose the concerns presented.
At Clinical Psychology Associates, our clinicians are experienced to accompany in your journey. We offer services for psychological assessments as well as assessment of learning disabilities. This article will inform you why accurate diagnosis is key to timely and effective treatment for mental health conditions and learning disabilities. We will also go in-depth on how psychological assessment works (for example, the differences between diagnosing mental health conditions and learning disabilities), and most of all, how we can help you and your loved ones.
In the context of mental health in the family and child development, accurate assessment help parents and teachers understand their child’s unique learning or mental health needs. Accuracy in understanding your child will lead to more positive outcomes in their learning, personal development and relationships with family, friends, teachers and classmates.
For adults, an accurate assessment of their mental health needs is key to setting them up for success in their treatment plan. The treatment of mental health concerns takes time. It could take months or even years. Getting the right assessment gets the right treatment for the right condition.
So, what are some consequences of an inaccurate psychological assessment? They include (but are not limited to):
Wrong treatment – In these cases, a misdiagnosis might mean ineffective treatment of non-existent or mistaken conditions. This may lead to unnecessary costs of time and money on psychological intervention or drug therapies that do not work to meet the individual’s needs.
Demoralisation and avoidance of seeking future intervention – Putting a sense of hopelessness in the individuals who are seeking help or undergoing treatment. As they do not experience the efficacy of proper treatment attuned to their needs, individuals may become discouraged and/or refuse further treatment.
Consumption of valuable resources – Some resources such as money can be earned back but some cannot be recovered. For instance, wasted time, energy and emotional distress can take a toil on both the individual receiving care and their loved ones.
Most of all, someone who has been misdiagnosed might feel discouraged and misunderstood by their care providers due to the mismatch between their needs and what is prescribed to them.
Psychological Assessments as a Basket of Tools
Psychometric assessment tools are like diagnostic tools used by medical professionals for investigation. For example, an X-ray of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to get a clearer picture of what has gone wrong physiologically. There is a wide variety of psychological screeners and assessments to detect and diagnose existing neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions.
Simply understood, screeners are instruments designed to indicate the likelihood of a present condition. Assessment tools, on the other hand, may provide a more definitive and rigorous approach to diagnosing disorders.
Here are some tools used in assessments:
Psychometric testing – A structured process in taking objective measures of a person to uncover their personality, characteristics, cognitive limits and behaviours.
Evaluation of medical and/or educational history – Often, an individual’s medical and academic records are considered in their diagnosis to paint an accurate picture of their whole situation.
Biopsychosocial intake information – Past and current medical conditions are considered alongside all manners of relevant reports and evaluations regarding the individual being assessed. These include background information such as school reports, past interventions (if any), family information, etc.
Interviews – A trained clinician interviews the person being assessed. This can be as simple as having a conversation. The clinician takes time to speak with an individual to find out more about their personal history, relationships and environments (home, work, school). Along with other tools like questionnaires, an interview can paint a portrait of one’s condition.
Observation – The assessed individual interacts with a trained clinician who observes their thought processes, assumptions, general disposition and communication manner.
Academic Assessments are Different
Assessment tools for psychological conditions and mental health concerns differ from those used to assessed learning difficulties. However, there can be instances where the personal assessed has both a condition as well as a learning disability. For example, a clinically-depressed individual who also presents Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
It is important to understand that conditions are unique to each individual, and a thorough assessment is needed for accurate diagnosis. Consulting an accredited mental health professional will set you in the right direction for assessment and intervention.
On top of that, examination boards and academic institutions often recognise reports produced by accredited mental health professionals to grant exemptions such as more time to complete tests, and other learning aids.
At Clinical Psychology Associates, we are here to help you and your family on your mental wellness journey. We are trained to conduct psychological assessments and assessments for learning disabilities. Contact us for more information on our services and assessment tools.