Mental health professionals often turn to psychological tests to help in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. But when a patient hears they are to undergo this type of testing, they may panic. There is no need to do so.
Think of the test as similar to a medical test, such as an MRI or X-ray. The mental health professional uses this tool to uncover the cause of the symptoms being experienced. The results of this noninvasive testing may also be used in the development of the patient’s treatment plan.
Types of psychological tests
Psychological tests come in two basic types. When taking an objective test, the patient will answer questions using set responses. Projective testing, in contrast, involves a patient providing responses to ambiguous stimuli. The mental health professional then evaluates these responses to reveal internal conflicts or hidden emotions.
Patients might worry the mental health professional’s biases will influence their results on these tests. Measures have been put into place to ensure the reliability, validity, and objectivity of these tests. These measures ensure bias isn’t an issue when the professional scores or interprets the results.
When is psychological testing needed?
A mental health professional may recommend psychological testing for many patients. They look at the patient’s symptoms when determining if testing is needed and which tests should be used.
Symptoms they look for when making this determination include changes in the patient’s mood and problems with concentration. They also talk with the patient and loved ones to see if the patient has been socially withdrawing from others or has experienced significant changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.
However, psychological testing may be used for a variety of other purposes. For instance, an employer may use one or more of these tests when screening job applications. Academic placement is another area where the tests may be used, and researchers might use them to test hypotheses.
Common psychological tests
Mental health professionals use many psychological tests today when working with patients. Personality tests, for example, assess a person’s behaviours, attitudes, emotions, and more. Observation tests, on the other hand, look at the individual’s immediate behaviour in various settings.
An aptitude test provides information on the person’s skill sets and capabilities. This information is then used to project their future success. Intelligence tests look for developmental or mental learning disabilities, while emotional intelligence tests examine their emotional responses.
These are only a few of the many psychological tests in use today. The mental health professional determines which will be of the most benefit when working with a patient. However, before proceeding, they should speak with the patient.
A patient should never submit to psychological testing without being fully informed. They need to know the purpose of the test and how it will benefit them. When patients have this information, they feel more confident undergoing the testing. Every mental health professional should educate their patients on the benefits of these tests, how they are administered, and more.
Psychological tests are beneficial in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals struggling with one or more mental health issues. Talk with the professional today to see if these tests will benefit the patient and why. With this information, a person will feel more comfortable submitting to the testing, as they know these tools are being used to help them get better and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.