Assessments are a way of understanding an individual based on a detailed evaluation of specific areas of functioning in order to make informed decisions about the person. Psychological assessments encompass formal and informal tests, behavioral observations, and interviews. The examiner strives to collect and interpret data from the assessment. The results are then integrated within the context of the referral question. There are several types of assessments including screening assessments, focused assessments, diagnostic assessments, and problem-solving assessments.
A screening assessment is a relatively brief evaluation intended to identify an individual who is at risk for developing certain disorders or disabilities. Screening assessments should not be viewed as definite and can be revised contingent on new information.
Screenings may involve evaluating a child’s readiness into a kindergarten or gifted program or an employee’s readiness to enter back into his or her employment setting.
A focused assessment is a detailed evaluation of a particular part of a person’s functioning stemming from a diagnostic question (e.g. Does the child have Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Disorder?) or skill (e.g. Does this person have deficits in expressive and receptive language?).
Schools, private medical facilities, and health maintenance organizations are common settings that often use a focused assessment process due to the financial and time-sensitive pressures of the institution or organization.
Diagnostic assessments are a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in various areas of functioning (i.e. Cognitive, achievement, personality, social, and emotional).
Diagnostic assessments can be conducted over several sessions and for a variety of reasons including identifying a diagnosis, making recommendations for placement programs, and providing tailored interventions.
Problem-solving assessments focus on a specific type of problem (e.g. Reducing the frequency of biting behaviors in the classroom or decreasing the number of anger outbursts with customers at work).
Problem-solving assessments involve outcome evaluations (pre, mid, post), a detailed analysis of the problem, and tailored interventions to address the targeted problem behavior(s).