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Capital Area Psychological Services, P.A.


Someone suggested my child needed psychological testing. What is that?
  Psychological testing is a means to determine the level or quality of an individual's performance or functioning in a particular area. The evaluation may include tests that measure intellectual capacity, school achievement, language, visual-motor skills, emotional development, or personality characteristics. Other areas of functioning may also be measured, but the ones listed here are the major ones.

Why is psychological testing performed?
  A psychological evaluation is done to gain information about an individual that cannot be more easily gained in other ways. Determination of expectations for a child in school, presence of a learning disability, the nature and depth of an emotional difficulty, and other issues are all reasons to conduct a psychological evaluation. Some information, such as formal determination of a learning disability, can be obtained in no other way.

Who does psychological testing?
  Psychological testing is done only by a psychologist with a master's or doctoral degree in psychology. Psychiatrists (medical doctors with a specialization in psychiatry) conduct mental status and clinical interviews. Social workers and other counselor or therapists conduct clinical interviews. While these techniques also provide useful information, they are different from psychological testing. Educational testing and some group psychological tests may be administered by professionals other than psychologists.

What tests are included in the evaluation?
  The tests administered in the psychological evaluation will be determined by the purpose of the evaluation and the type of information needed. Common measures include the Wechsler scales (cognitive ability), the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (educational achievement), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (receptive language), the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (personality), and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (personality). These or others may be administered given the individual situation. For children, at its least, the evaluation will usually include visual-motor, ability, and educational tests.

What is psychoeducational testing?
  An educational form of testing is called psychoeducational testing. These tests frequently include measures of school performance such as reading or math. Common psychoeducational measures include the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, the Kaufman Assessment of Basic Skills, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, and many others. They may be administered by professionals other than psychologists.

Is a custody evaluation the same as psychological testing?
  No, a custody evaluation is not the same thing as psychological testing although it may include elements of psychological testing. Typically, a custody evaluation is conducted to give information to the court concerning the best placement of a child. While psychological testing usually involves working primarily with the individual being tested, a custody evaluation may involve detailed interviews with all who have knowledge of the child’s current situation, grandparents, caretakers, teachers, relatives, and, of course, parents. In addition, the custody evaluation may include psychological testing of the child. Overall, however, a custody evaluation is much broader and involves much more time than psychological testing.

Does it make a difference who does the testing?
  Many times it does not make a difference who conducts the evaluation. However, the behavior observed during the testing can provide valuable insights into the individual's functioning, and some examiners are more perceptive than others in this regard. What is, perhaps, more important is the knowledge of the person interpreting the tests. Psychology is like all fields: some psychologists are more skilled in one area than another. Therefore, some psychologists are better at drawing conclusions and recommendations from test results than are others.

Should I have the school do the testing?
  Many excellent psychologists work for school systems and provide evaluations at no cost to the parent. However, because of the demand for testing, many times only the most severe cases are evaluated quickly. Thus, the waiting time to obtain an evaluation may be very long. Also, many school systems across the country require that a psychologist employed by the school system make no recommendations for services that the school system does not offer because of the possibility that the system will need to pay for implementation of the recommendation. Thus, school system psychologists are sometimes unable to offer needed recommendations because of system constraints placed on them.

How can I arrange for psychological testing?
  Call the office of a psychologist and ask if s/he conducts psychological evaluations. Inquire specifically if the psychologist works specifically with the issues you are concerned about. For example, if the evaluation is of your child, ask about the psychologist's experience in evaluating children. If the evaluation should concern custody, inquire about the extent of the psychologist's experience in this area. Children of divorced parents may not be evaluated without the consent of the parent who has the legal authority to make such a decision regarding the child.

How much does psychological testing cost?
  The cost of psychological testing generally varies with the time required to complete the evaluation. Aspects of the evaluation often include an intake interview, the testing itself, an interpretive conference, scoring of results, and a written report. It is not unusual for this process to take 7-10 hours, and most psychologists bill on an hourly rate. Custody evaluations may take much longer.

Does insurance cover any of the cost?
  Health insurance policies have undergone major changes in the last several years, and now few insurance companies seem to cover all of the time required for psychological testing. Many times companies report that they do cover testing, but detailed inquiries lead to the conclusion that testing is covered in only limited circumstances. Often only the time spent with the child in a face-to-face meeting is covered so that scoring and report writing are billed separately. Also, educational testing is frequently not covered. Check specifically and in detail with your insurance company about their policies in this regard.

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