UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING
At Still Waters Counseling, we are aware that when you schedule psychological testing you are making an investment, and want to you get as much value from it as possible. We believe that a comprehensive psychological testing package is the best value, but we also offer a brief screening that is less expensive. You will have the option of choosing either of these. In order for you to make an informed choice, the factors to consider are discussed below.
The Goals of Psychological Testing
The first goal of comprehensive testing is to come to clinically valid and reliable conclusions about a person’s functioning – including detailing a person’s strengths, weaknesses, and diagnoses. Once this is known, you can move forward with the second goal: obtaining appropriate treatment. It is certainly common sense that you shouldn’t treat something until you know what you are going to treat. If you went to your doctor and he told you he didn’t know what was causing your symptoms, but wanted you to try a medicine based on a hunch, you certainly wouldn’t take it. Psychological treatment is the same. You don’t want to waste time and resources by trial and error – you want to know what the cause of the problem is, so that the first treatment you try is the correct one.
Comprehensive testing looks at many different possible causes of difficulties, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, addiction, reaction to trauma, personality traits, and environmental factors (e.g., home or school environment). Through this method we can not only make accurate diagnoses, we can also “rule out” other problems. This is important because people can have more than one problem at a time. For example, people diagnosed with depression have a much higher chance than others of also having another disorder such as an anxiety or behavior disorder. Knowing all the conditions that exist allows you to seek the appropriate combination of treatments. Knowing both what is going on and what isn’t going on allows us to make very specific recommendations that are the most likely to be effective and efficient.
Only comprehensive testing can provide the above information. As opposed to this, a screening looks at one particular diagnosis and determines whether or not it appears to be present. There are certain situations in which a screening might be desirable and sufficient. For example, if a person was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, but now that they are an adult their insurance company wants confirmation of the diagnosis, a screening looking only at ADHD symptoms may be sufficient for that purpose. The down side is that a screening cannot be definitive because it can’t rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. Only a comprehensive evaluation can do that, although it takes longer and is more expensive. Your psychologist will discuss this with you as it relates to you or to your child so that you can make the right choice for your circumstances.
The Process of Psychological Testing
The first step is to come to a mutual understanding about what questions need answering through testing. For example, questions might include “why is Jane doing so poorly in school,” “why is John always getting in trouble,” or “do I have Bipolar Disorder?” Once we know the questions, we can start gathering the information needed to answer them.
The methods used to gather the information for psychological testing are many. They include giving standardized psychological tests and questionnaires, getting information about a person’s physical and intellectual development, getting the perspectives of several different people about what strengths and what difficulties a person is having, and reviewing any records of any past psychological testing or treatment. Documents such as report cards, workplace evaluations, and others will also be reviewed (if available). The psychologist will also observe the person during the course of the evaluation to find clues regarding their strengths and weaknesses.
Once the information is gathered, the psychologist will score and interpret the data, and come to conclusions about the diagnoses. They will write a report that details the results of each test and a conclusion about diagnosis. The psychologist will then set up a time to go over the report and answer any questions you have about the findings. Individualized treatment recommendations will be a part of the report, and during the feedback session these can also be discussed. The psychologist wants you to understand how they came to the conclusions they did, and will gladly address any questions or concerns.
How Much Will Psychological Testing Cost?
The initial assessment costs $195.00 and is used to understand the situation, discuss the needs of the person, and determine what type of testing is needed. A comprehensive psychological assessment takes 16-24 hours of the psychologist’s time to complete, and costs $2,500 for children and $2,250 for adults. This fee includes a feedback session where the psychologist explains your results in detail, gives you the written report, and makes recommendations on next steps.
Screenings are charged by the hour, and typically take 8-10 hours to complete at $125.00 per hour, making the typical screening in the $1,000.00 to $1,250.00 range. The exact price will be based only on the number of hours it took for the psychologist to complete the screening.
Insurance can be a factor in the decision regarding what type of testing to do. Some families’ insurance doesn’t pay the entire cost, leaving the family with a large amount to fund themselves. It is also possible that the insurance won’t pay for all of the tests / instruments that are needed, but will pay for others. For example, many insurance companies will not pay for “educational testing” such as measures of intelligence testing or learning disabilities. Some people do not want their insurance involved at all, for privacy reasons usually, and prefer to pay the entire cost themselves. Our office staff will determine how much your insurance would probably pay for testing, and how much you would need to pay yourself. Then, knowing all of the important factors, you can decide whether comprehensive testing or screening is the right option for you.
We look forward to meeting with you and answering any questions you might have.