Psychological tests offer a way to measure traits, feelings, beliefs, and abilities that can lead to people's problems. Some tests assess the presence of certain conditions, such as depression, anxiety, anger control, or susceptibility to stress. Other tests measure general well being and provide an overall picture of a person's personality. A typical psychological assessment includes an interview with a mental health practitioner and one or more formal psychological tests. The person may be able to complete some tests on his or her own; others may be completed with an examiner.
Upon a referral for psychological testing, one should recognize that the intent is to gain a deeper, more complete understanding of the problem than can be gained from a brief office visit. Such a referral does not mean that the problem is particularly serious, difficult to understand, or complex. It just means that additional information is needed before designing the best approach to address the problem.
If a referral for testing is made, knowing why such a referral is being made is important. Becoming generally familiar with what to expect is also important. Often, an appointment for psychological testing requires several hours of time to complete (paper and pencil) questionnaires or engage in face-to-face testing.