What is GOOD Psychological Testing?

Updated: Jan 22

Written by Dr. Lindsey Dogali from psychtesting4kids.com

Reposted with permission by NeurodiverCity.

Dr. Lindsey Dogali is a licensed clinical psychologist located in Bethesda, MD specializing in assessment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD and executive functioning issues, and anxiety and related social/emotional concerns. Dr. Dogali is passionate about helping families get answers as to why their child may be struggling in school, at home, with peers, or otherwise. This is very rewarding and motivating for Dr. Dogali and keeps her focused on providing excellent evidenced-based evaluations. Dr. Dogali’s goal is to make the testing experience as enjoyable as possible for your child or teen, and to ensure that you, as a parent, feel heard and supported throughout the process.

What is GOOD Psychological Testing? Psychological testing is a complex subject and can be overwhelming for parents and children. If you or your child have been referred for psychological testing, I imagine you have many questions about what type of testing you need and what to expect from the evaluation. My blog post will help parents make an informed choice about where to seek an evaluation. 

Type of Evaluation (Terms Used): The different terms used to refer to evaluations (“neuropsychological” vs “psychoeducational” vs “psychological”) all sound similar and can be very confusing. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. One main difference refers to the specific training of the clinician: psychological testing refers to testing conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist; neuropsychological testing is conducted by a neuropsychologist; psychoeducational testing can be conducted by a school psychologist. When testing is conducted in a school setting, pay close attention to the credentials of the evaluator. Sometimes, the tests are administered by a special education teacher who does not have proper training. Regardless of the term used, it is more important to ask the questions, “what are the credentials of the evaluator?” and “what areas will be assessed in the evaluation?”  Credentials/Training of Evaluator:  For a comprehensive evaluation, you must go to either a licensed clinical psychologist or a neuropsychologist. These are doctoral-level (Ph.D.) mental health professionals with extensive background training in normal human development as well as cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders. They have completed rigorous training consisting of 7-10 years of education and supervised clinical experience before being eligible to receive a license to practice independently. For instance, you can view my background training and credentials here. At some larger private practices and hospital settings, testing technicians or psychometrists are used to administer some or all the tests. Testing technicians are often graduate students enrolled in a doctoral-level program who are obtaining supervised training. While this is great experience for the doctoral students (I personally did this throughout graduate school!), this may NOT be the best choice for your family. Testing technicians have less experience than a doctor in administration and interpretation of the tests. And, the best diagnostic tool available is really the clinician themselves- the clinical experience, behavioral observations, and intuition of a seasoned psychologist is irreplaceable. Therefore, I highly recommend ensuring that the person in the room with your child during the assessment is a licensed clinical psychologist.  Expertise of psychologist:  Not all psychologists are equal! Not only are the training and credentials important, but you must seek out a doctor with expertise that pertains to the kind of evaluation you need (i.e., ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, etc.). As an example, in the world of dyslexia assessment, going to a doctor with expertise is absolutely critical. Otherwise, the subtle signs of dyslexia can be so easily missed. 

I understand that it can be tricky for parents to judge the level of expertise especially because so many psychologists (and practice websites) claim to be experts in seemingly everything related to mental health. As you conduct your search, here are a few simple tips:  **Ask about specific test measures used to assess ____ (whatever you are seeking an evaluation for). Depending on the diagnostic question (i.e., is it Dyslexia? ADHD? Language Disorder?), specific skills need to be assessed! This page provides an overview of necessary areas to be evaluated.

**Look for my future blog post about this topic pertains to assessments for dyslexia** **Ask about the turnaround time for a report. Typically, an expert can perform a task much faster than a novice. For instance, I can compose a highly individualized (NOT templated) and comprehensive (25+ pages) report within one week. When you have mastery of a subject area, the written document should not take longer than two weeks, let alone months to rec