Psychological Evaluations

A Psychological Evaluation (or Psychological Assessment) is a way to more quickly determine the nature and extent of problems that a person is having. But of course that is as varied as the humans on this planet!  Many people seek psychological assessment to better understand what is contributing to specific life challenges.  

While the primary purpose of an assessment is to answer a specific question, the goal of the assessment is to help patients to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to provide recommendations that will allow them to function at their best.

It is also common for patient’s (or their physicians) to see an evaluation before beginning medications or when medications or other interventions have been insufficient.  It may be that the evaluation is needed because the patient is having what they view as a significant problem remembering things.  There are even surgeries that require such an assessment (like weight loss surgery). Or it could be one of hundreds of other reasons that am individual might request (or be referred for) a psychological evaluation. 

  • Experiencing repeated problems in interpersonal relationships.
  • Problems with self-acceptance of an inherent trait or characteristic.
  • The extent and/or nature of a psychological disability.
  • Confirmation of an individual’s psychological functioning for a third party.
  • The reason for emotional or behavioral problems (e.g., feelings of being overwhelmed, reacting in anger with little provocation).

A Psychological Evaluation (or Psychological Assessment) is a way to more quickly determine the nature and extent of problems that a person is having. But of course that is as varied as the humans on this planet!  Many people seek psychological assessment to better understand what is contributing to specific life challenges.  

While the primary purpose of an assessment is to answer a specific question, the goal of the assessment is to help patients to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to provide recommendations that will allow them to function at their best.

Picture for psychological assessment by a Carrollton, Georgia psychologist for disability, behaviors, depression, anxiety, surgery and more.

It is also common for patient’s (or their physicians) to see an evaluation before beginning medications or when medications or other interventions have been insufficient.  It may be that the evaluation is needed because the patient is having what they view as a significant problem remembering things.  There are even surgeries that require such an assessment (like weight loss surgery).  Or it could be one of hundreds of other reasons that am individual might request (or be referred for) a psychological evaluation. 

  • Experiencing repeated problems in interpersonal relationships.

  • Problems with self-acceptance of an inherent trait or characteristic.

  • The extent and/or nature of a psychological disability.

  • Confirmation of an individual’s psychological functioning for a third party.

  • The reason for emotional or behavioral problems (e.g., feelings of being overwhelmed, reacting in anger with little provocation).
Psychology assessments from a psychologist for relationships, weight-loss, personality, disability, thinking, memory, and many emotional problems like depression and bipolar disorder.

What can I expect if I schedule a psychological evaluation?

There is no single and specific answer to that, but there is a very broad one. First, psychological assessments always include a discussion with the patient about her or his life and history (and sometimes the same is done with important people in the patient’s) and behavioral observations by the psychologist. In addition to that, a psychological assessment almost always includes one or more questionnaires and/or formal psychological tests that are designed to assess a patient’s in areas such as behaviors, intelligence, development, social functioning, personality characteristics, and cognitive characteristics. 

For most psychological evaluations, the process helps identifies a patient’s weaknesses and strengths.  These are usually completed in the psychologist’s office and consists largely of paper-and-pencil tests (such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory [or MMPI-2]) , but there may also be some verbal question and answer type of testing (like the Mini Mental Status Examination [or MMSE]). 

An evaluation begins with a face-to-face clinical interview with the psychologists in the office which most often lasts around 1 hour (but can be longer).  This is where a psychologist gathers information about you such as your family, social, and relationship histories. Behavioral observations are also a part of the assessment – whether an observation of the patient throughout the assessment process or a more formal observation (such as observing a family interacting in the home).  Any specific psychological tests are usually given after the clinical interview and usually last between 30 minutes and 2 hours (although there are evaluations some psychologists do, for example those evaluating the results of brain injury, that require multiple days of testing).

I do not provide psychological evaluations for the following:

  • For court-ordered, forensic, or custody evaluations.

  • Full neuropsychological assessments (although I do complete dementia and other neuropsychological screenings and if needed will refer patients to a neuropsychologist for further testing).

  • To diagnose (or confirm a previous diagnosis) attention deficit disorder / attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and learning disabilities.

What is the test that psychologists give most often?

(tap here or bring your cursor near to find out)

You thought it was the Rorschach "Ink Blot" Test, right?

The correct answer is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2 for short) that is a personality test and the test used most often by psychologists because it is the one with the most scientific research behind it. It's called an "objective test" because it is based on over 50 years of research on the pattern of patient responses instead of relying on a psychologist’s judgments about the patient’s answer or on the patient's willingness or ability to communicate their problems to the psychologist.  In other words, people who are depressed tend to answer things one way, while anxious people answer another. When we look at the results, we are looking at to see if that patient's responses are similar to those individuals with known characteristics, diagnoses, and behavior patterns. The MMPI-2 also has validity scales that are very good at detecting when a test taker is trying to fake the results (to look like they are functioning better or worse than they are in reality).

In March 2020, I moved my practice from my Carrollton office to a telehealth practice (a virtual office where services are provided by video conference) to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission to my patients.   With ongoing health concerns for many in our population, I have decided to continue to provide all telehealth services through a secure, HIPAA-compliant portal and do not know if or when I will return to my office-based practice.  Please note that I am accepting new spinal cord simulator and bariatric pre-surgical evaluation patients; I am also happy to take new psychotherapy patients as the schedule permits.  Please email me from my contact page if you are interested in any of these services.  And stay well.