A psychological assessment is valuable in outlining your child’s strengths and weaknesses from a social and emotional perspective, and providing a spotlight on where behavioural intervention should focus. A psychological assessment is typically needed if your child or adolescent is struggling socially or emotionally, or if they exhibit inadequate behaviours or reactions to events (especially compared to peers their age), such as hypersensitivity, socially withdrawal or anger. This is important to identify because we know that children process emotional information differently than adults. For example, depression in children often manifests as anger rather than sadness as it does in adults.
Our team is trained in developmental psychology which allows us to understand what is considered normal for your child’s age, developmental stage, and personality versus what is considered to be an obstacle to developmental success in areas of their everyday life (academic, social, family and peer relationships).
The Purpose of a Psychological Assessment for Children
The results of the psychological assessment helps parents and teachers to understand the child’s motives and reasons for specific behaviours, and learn if the degree of the obstacles that are observed are at the level of needing professional interventions.
Provide a Diagnosis
There are some psychological problems that come from a unique development of the brain. These are usually associated with diagnoses such as ADHD, LD, autism, etc. In other cases, the child may be in an environment or witness a certain situation that had a negative effect on their emotions and as a result, their reaction may manifest as separation anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or depression, etc. In some cases it is a combination of both so during the psychological assessment, we try to determine and analyse all possible factors associated with the issue your child is having and provide an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Specify Treatment Goals
In addition to diagnosis, where appropriate, the psychological assessment will provide a lot of strategies for helping your child to develop emotional intelligence and adapt to the demands and stressors of their everyday environment.
In most cases, we recommend a psychological assessment before treatment to specify the diagnosis and goals for treatment. However, in some cases, when this problem is clear or the psychological assessment was done by a previous medical professional who could not follow up with treatment, we may recommend a brief assessment – mostly to establish rapport and treatment goals rather than doing a full and comprehensive psychological assessment.
What to Expect from a Psychological Assessment
It is important to inform your child of what to expect before arriving at our clinic for the psychological assessment:
- For younger children, you may want to emphasize that this is not a medical examination, and no medical tests will be performed. Instead, they will be asked to play a series of games with a psychologist. For younger children, the assessment will consist mostly of these informal projective test measures, and an interview with the caregiver. You may be asked to complete norm-referenced tests based on your own behavioural observations of your child.
- If your child is of an appropriate age, they may also be asked to complete questionnaires, and undergo a short interview themselves.The tests given to your child will not be the same as the tests you would complete. These tests are specially developed to be appropriate for your child’s age, and written in language easily understood by children of that age. Depending on your child’s reading level, the items on the questionnaires may be administered orally.
Your child’s psychological assessment will be carefully tailored to your child’s age, experiences, emotional functioning, and abilities.
Please note that we do not do assess cognitive abilities or academic skills during a psychological assessment – as this is done during a a psychoeducational assessment. A psychological assessment is ALWAYS included as part of our comprehensive psychoeducational assessment.