What Are Psychological Assessments?
A Psychological Assessment is an assessment of how a person thinks, learns, feels and behaves. It is made up of a set of tests and procedures that are administered and interpreted to form a comprehensive impression of a person’s functioning.
In order to fully understand client concerns, a comprehensive assessment of a client's strengths and needs is important. Together, with the input from the client, any parents/caregivers, and information from their school or workplace, we can conduct detailed assessments that will help to identify key issues and provide useful recommendations to enable you or your child to succeed at school or at home.
The most frequently requested assessment for school is a psychoeducational assessment. This type of assessment is usually conducted for school-age children as young as 4 years old. The most common reason a psychoeducational assessment is conducted is to get children access to accommodations and modifications in the classroom. The purpose of the assessment is to identify the following: intellectual giftedness, learning disabilities, developmental delays, behavioural issues, mood or emotional concerns, social issues, etc.
Accomodations help the child learn the same material, but gives them access to solutions to help them succeed. Some accommodations can include more time during tests, a separate, quiet area for writing exams, access to a computer for writing, etc. Modifications involve changes to the material so that the student is taught an altered curriculum and the learning expectations for the student are different. Some modifications include shorter or easier assignments, being tested on less material, alternate assignments, etc.
Adolescents and young adults complete a psychoeducational assessment to access to support in university, college, or the workplace in the form of similar accommodations and modifications mentioned above. University and college students may also be able to access grants and bursaries if they are able to register with Accessibilities Services at their respective institution. For more information please see our Student Funding Page or fill out our contact form here for more information.
A psychoeducational assessment consists of two major parts: intelligence testing and achievement testing. The purpose of intelligence testing is to understand a child’s general intellectual ability and compare it to children their age. For example if a child’s intelligence score, called a Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ), is in the 80th percentile, it means that the child’s intelligence is higher than 80% of children their age. Achievement testing is conducted to understand the how well a child’s intelligence is being expressed in components of reading, writing, math, and oral language. If a child’s achievement score is significantly lower when compared to their intelligence score it is up to the psychologist to figure out why and how best to bridge this gap.
What Happens during a Psychological Assessment?
Both types of assessments may include clinical interviews, observation, formal testing with psychometric test kits, parent & teacher questionnaires and consultation with other professionals involved in a person’s life. The formal testing includes verbal questions, pencil and paper tasks, puzzles, drawing, social interactions, and recesses when needed. When the person tested is a child, parents and teachers are asked to complete questionnaires addressing study skills, day-to-day functioning, behaviour, emotional status, social skills, and developmental issues.
After the psychological assessment is completed it takes 1-2 weeks for the tests to be scored, interpreted, and the findings are explained to the client and/or, in the case of children with the parent(s). During the feedback or debrief session, the options for a written report will be discussed with the client, and, if needed, a suggestion for a specific type and length of report will be made. The relevant report writing time and cost will be clearly explained and an agreement for the report writing fee will be made.
Types of Assessments
Psychological assessment instruments or tests are professionally designed to measure different abilities, skills and personality traits or characteristics. The most commonly used psychological tests are intellectual ability (or intelligence) tests, academic skills (or achievement) tests, in-depth tests of specific cognitive functions such as memory, focus and attention, and visual-motor coordination, online neurocognitive tests, personality tests and/or Brain Dominance questionnaires. Based on the client’s needs, the psychologist will suggest a battery (or selection) of tests to answer questions the client may have. Below are some of the assessments we use and what they test for.
The WISC-V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) is an assessment used to understand a child’s general intellectual ability. This assessment can be completed for children between the ages of 6 to 16. It consists of 5 components that measure verbal comprehension, visual spatial skills, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The results of this assessment can help to identify giftedness, intellectual disability, developmental delay, and specific learning disabilities such as dyscalculia (mathematics disorder), dysgraphia (disorder of written expression), and dyslexia (reading disorder).
The WIPPSI-IV (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence) is an intelligence assessment for younger children between the ages of 4 and 6. This assessments tests similar areas like the WISC-V and can be used to identify giftedness, intellectual disability, developmental delay, and specific learning disabilities such as dyscalculia (mathematics disorder), dysgraphia (disorder of written expression), and dyslexia (reading disorder).
The WAIS-IV (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale) is an intelligence assessment for older adolescents and adults between the ages of 16 and 90 years. This assessments tests similar areas like the WISC-V and can be used to identify giftedness, intellectual disability, developmental delay, and specific learning disabilities such as dyscalculia (mathematics disorder), dysgraphia (disorder of written expression), and dyslexia (reading disorder).
The WIAT-III (Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Second Edition) is an assessment used to understand the academic achievement for child, adolescents, and adults between the ages of 4 and 85. The WIAT-III consists of components that test reading, writing, math, and oral language. This assessment is usually used in conjunction with one of the above mentioned intelligence tests to identify giftedness, intellectual disability, developmental delay, and specific learning disabilities such as dyscalculia (mathematics disorder), dysgraphia (disorder of written expression), and dyslexia (reading disorder).
Neurocognitive Testing is a used to evaluate the neurocognitive status for children as young as 8 years old to adults as old as 90 years old. This assessment measures verbal memory, visual memory, composite memory, psychomotor speed, reaction time, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, processing speed, social acuity, non-verbal reasoning, executive functioning, working memory, sustained attention, simple attention, and motor speed. This assessment is also accompanied by clinical questionnaires. Neurocognitive testing can help identify if people are struggling with symptoms related to attention, memory, brain injury, sleep, pain, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
The MCMI (Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory) is a personality assessment used to understand issues related to mood, personality traits, and psychopathology described in the DSM-V (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual). This assessment is used to identify if someone is struggling with more complex symptoms related to generalized, somatic symptom disorder, bipolar disorder, persistent depression, alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A QEEG assessment is used to map the electrical activity of one’s brain to better understand functioning and activation patterns and cognitive deficits. This psychophysiological assessment is usually completed for adolescents and adults. A simpler EEG assessment is conducted for children. Electrodes are placed on the scalp and record electrical brain wave activity to generate map of activity. When combined with other assessment methods, a QEEG assessment can help provide more evidence for issues related to ADHD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, learning disabilities, sleep issues, memory issues, concussion, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post concussive syndrome.
The ABAS (Adaptive Behavior Assessment System) is a comprehensive, norm-referenced assessment that looks at adaptive behaviour and skills of a child or adolescent. The results of this assessment can be used to provide evidence for someone struggling with learning disabilities, ADHD symptoms, and impairments of related to speech, language, motor function, neuropsychological disorders, and general developmental delays. Questionnaires are usually sent to parents and teacher where applicable.
The ASRS (Autism Spectrum Rating Scales) is a comprehensive, norm-referenced assessment that looks at the the specific behaviours, symptoms, and other aspects related to a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. This assessment can be used for young children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 18 years. Questionnaires are usually sent to parents and teachers where applicable.
The Conners-3 (Conners 3rd Edition) is a thorough assessment of ADHD characteristics in children and adolescents between the ages of 6 to 18 years. This assessment can help identify if a child or adolescent has specific behaviours or symptoms related to ADHD and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Testing can also identify if a child has ADHD with impulsivity-hyperactivity presentation, ADHD with inattentive presentation, or ADHD with combined presentation. Questionnaires are usually sent to parents, teachers, and the youth where applicable.
Why Should I Consider a Psychological Assessment?
Typical reasons for a referral have been:
Mood or Emotional Concerns
Typical questions that can be answered by psychological testing:
Do I (or my child) meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis?
Does my child need an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for school or do I need modifications for work?
What kind of work/study situation is ideal for me to be successful?
It has been widely documented that early intervention is important for young children to achieve their fullest potential. We are able to assess developmental issues across the age range of childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Preschool developmental assessments can provide a useful overview of the primary areas of strength and need in order to develop useful and relevant supports.
Please note that services are not covered under OHIP, but may be covered by insurance or extended health care benefits.