Testing: Additional thoughts

Understanding the process and benefits

 

What do psychological tests add?

Why would you be interested in testing beyond the standard evaluation a therapist would provide?  Put another way, what do tests add to our understanding of you and your concerns? Actually, a professionally administered test battery has several advantages:

  • Efficiency:  What might take months to evolve in therapy, we could learn in several hours.
  • Comprehensiveness:  Modern tests can identify personality features you may not have recognized even if you know yourself quite well, or even if you’re currently in therapy.
  • Statistical Comparisons:  What’s significant for you stands out against a background of how other people respond to the same questions.  For example, if you’re wondering how depressed you are, I could show you how you compare to depressed and non-depressed people who’ve taken the same test you did.

 

Why would I consider testing?

Testing can be used to address a wide variety of concerns.  Some of these questions are “diagnostic:” am I depressed, anxious, or suffering from some other diagnosable psychiatric condition?  Optimally, however, tests help us to move beyond a simple yes-or-no framework to ask more illuminating questions.  In the case of depression, for instance, one could also ask how depressed am I, in what ways, how does this connect to my personality or worldview, would therapy or medication help, and so forth.  Or maybe you already have questions that go beyond diagnosis—about your personality, ways of relating to others, thinking style or coping mechanisms—and testing can help to clarify these and how they may be tripping you up.  Finally, since testing provides a vivid snapshot of where you are, it can be very helpful when you’re considering therapy, if you’re in therapy but feeling stuck, or if you’re considering medication or another treatment approach.

 

The testing process

The first step is an initial interview.  The main goal here is to understand your concerns and develop specific questions about them.  We’ll actually use the test data to answer your personal questions so, like therapy, testing is tailored to your interests and you have a good sense of what we’re looking to address from the very beginning.

The next step is the testing itself.  I’ll choose a number of tests designed to address your specific questions and concerns.  You’ll complete some on your own, and some we’ll do together.  Then I’ll take a week or so to analyze all the data.

The final step is feedback.  I provide a detailed report that summarizes all of the critical data and answers your personal questions, but we’ll also discuss these findings and their implications at length, and may even look at the data together.  We’ll explore if the findings make sense to you, and see how they relate to your real life struggles.  If you’re already in therapy, we can include your therapist in the feedback session to discuss the findings together and think through how to integrate them into your treatment.  This type of team approach can have far reaching results, as we can capitalize on the insights from testing and use them to build on the insights you’ve already developed in therapy.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about testing or would like to discuss how it might apply in your case, please feel free to email or give me a call.