As a parent or guardian, you want what’s best for your child. But sometimes it’s difficult to know how to help. If your son or daughter is struggling in school or having behavioral or emotional problems, it may be time to seek professional guidance. Psychological testing can diagnose the issue so you can get the support your child needs to thrive.
What Does Psychological Testing Entail?
Psychological testing is administered by a trained clinician, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist. The process involves assessing your child’s abilities and gathering information about their symptoms. This may be done in a variety of ways.
A clinical interview is a conversation between the clinician and your child. The clinician will ask about any issues or difficulties your son or daughter is having right now, as well as past issues. The purpose of a clinical interview is to let the clinician observe how your child thinks, reasons, and interacts with people.
Interviews with parents, guardians, and teachers
Psychologists will usually speak with the people who know the child best – their parents, guardians, and teachers. This helps them get a more complete picture of the issue. Parents can provide insight their child might miss, and teachers can provide a different angle on the situation.
Rating scales and other written tests
In addition to verbal interviews, you and your child may complete written assessments. There are a variety of tests that may be used, each measuring different things. The type of assessments administered will depend on the reason for the child’s referral to psychological testing. For example, if your child has been struggling with academic performance, the clinician may choose tests that assess cognitive functioning and learning styles.
Gathering background information
Psychologists will also want to know about a child’s background. This includes their health and developmental history, cultural and socioeconomic background, and any major events in their life such as divorce, death of a loved one, or past abuse. This information may be collected through interviews or written forms and documents.
When Should Parents Seek Out Psychological Testing?
Parents should seek out psychological testing if their child is experiencing concerning symptoms and/or difficulties in their daily life. These include:
- Struggling in school or experiencing a drop in academic performance
- Difficulty concentrating
- Acting out in class
- Frequently missing school or not completing work
- Bullying or being bullied
- Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, sadness or hopelessness
- Frequent or dramatic mood changes
- Substance use
These symptoms could indicate a mental health disorder or learning disability. It’s helpful for parents to get a formal diagnosis so they can seek out effective help for their child.
Psychological testing doesn’t always look for difficulties. Sometimes, children are referred for psychological testing to identify school readiness or giftedness. If your child displays some of the traits of giftedness, such as advanced language skills and learning abilities, you might want to seek out psychological testing to determine whether they are gifted.
In the event you are concerned about any of your child’s behaviors, then you should not hesitate to set up an appointment. If you are unsure about what your child is up to, then it may be prudent to speak with his or her teachers or friends. They may be able to provide additional insight that will help with the testing sessions.
Why Is Psychological Testing Important?
Psychological testing can reveal underlying mental health disorders, learning disorders, developmental disabilities, or giftedness. Getting a formal diagnosis helps parents decide on the best course of action for their child. This could include seeking mental health treatment services, requesting a formal accommodation at school, or enrolling the child in a gifted program.
It is vital for parents to play an active role in testing. Be sure to ask questions throughout the process. Parents should also share the test results with their child’s pediatrician and any other healthcare professionals the child sees. Everyone should be on the same page to help create the best plan of action.
Psychological Testing with The Light Program
The Light Program offers comprehensive psychological testing for adolescents and adults in southeastern Pennsylvania. If you’re concerned about your child or suspect they may be gifted, we encourage you to get in touch with us and schedule an appointment. We will work with you to develop an accurate diagnosis. If mental health services are needed, we have qualified therapists who can help.