Testing FAQs

What does the testing process look like?
A comprehensive psychological evaluation is a complex, multi-step process:

Step 1: Diagnostic interview (intake)

The psychologist will gather important information, including developmental history, health and medical history, environmental history (home/work/school), and functional impact related to those areas. 

Step 2: Formal assessment

  • The psychologist will electronically send additional standardized measures to “collaterals,” such as partners, teachers, parents, etc., for observational data. 
  • Direct testing is scheduled in three-hour blocks, where you or your child will be formally assessed using standardized instruments. 

Step 3: Data integration
Once all the information is gathered, the psychologist reviews, analyzes, and incorporates the data into a detailed report, which will include diagnostic impressions and specific recommendations.

Step 4: Feedback

The psychologist will ask any final or clarifying questions, explain the results, answer questions, and address any concerns. The report is finalized and the provided to the client and/or designated recipient. 

How long will the process take?

The timeline, from start to finish, varies based on assessment type. We tailor each evaluation according to the referral question and our clients’ needs. Most comprehensive evaluations take 8-12 hours in total, over the course of several appointments. Most presurgical evaluations take approximately 4 hours in total, including the diagnostic clinical interview and feedback. 

The timeline also depends on how long it takes to request and receive records, get in touch with collateral contacts (e.g., significant other, teacher, and/or parent/caregiver), receiving their completed assessment rater packets, as well as consultations with medical and/or mental health professionals if needed. 

We will provide an estimate after our first appointment once the psychologist tailors the test battery to address the evaluation’s purpose.

How long is the actual testing session?

Comprehensive “batteries” may take three to six hours depending on the purpose of the evaluation as well as the client (e.g., children). We conduct testing in three hour blocks and most will need one session. However, there are times when more time or information is needed, in which case we will schedule an additional testing day.

What is being evaluated?

The client will likely be referred for an evaluation for a specific reason.  The psychologist may not know exactly what is important to evaluate until relevant medical and/or school records are reviewed, and the initial interview is completed. The psychologist only evaluates what is necessary, and each evaluation is individualized according to the client’s needs.

What types of evaluations are there?

Psychological assessments cover a number of different areas, some of which are combined based on the referral question:

  • Mental health assessment

A mental health assessment includes information about a person’s medical history, their family history, and the status of their mental health. The assessment helps identify if there are any mental health issues present and determine a diagnosis and treatment accordingly.

  • Adaptive behavior assessment

This measures the social and practical skills of a person, to determine their ability to function on a daily basis at home, school, or work and are usually conducted along with cognitive tests. For example, it may be used to assess a child’s ability to function in social activities with other students in school.

  • Aptitude assessment

An aptitude assessment measures a person’s ability to perform different kinds of tasks. This is done to measure ability and figure out the kind of professions or job roles a person may be suited for. They may also be used by career counselors to guide people towards higher education in fields where they demonstrate high ability.

  • Cognitive assessment

A cognitive assessment measures a person’s cognitive abilities – problem solving, reasoning, vocabulary, comprehension, and memory. They are more commonly known as intelligence or IQ tests and are used to identify a person’s strengths and potential.

  • Educational/achievement assessment

Educational/achievement assessments are conducted to test how much an individual has progressed in learning a specific subject—like mathematics, reading comprehension—to identify any difficulties they may have had in it. 

  • Fitness for Duty Assessment

A Fitness for Duty Assessment (FFD) is a mental health evaluation in which a psychologist performs tests and provides feedback about an employee’s mental fitness to perform a specific job. These evaluations are usually done when a circumstance occurs that may impair an employee from successfully doing their job.

Employers can request an FFD to manage risk, safety, and productivity in the workplace, such as Air Traffic Controllers by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

  • Forensic psychological assessment

Forensic evaluations apply clinical psychology to legal matters. Unlike most other psychological evaluations, the “client” tends to be attorneys, judges, government organizations, law enforcement, businesses, schools, and others. 

Forensic evaluations must be conducted by psychologists who have undergone additional specialty training in this area, given the importance of understanding the legal system. They provide expertise to judicial, administrative, and educational systems, which can involve – but not limited to – testifying in court offering expert opinions about psychological issues, serving as a trial consultant to attorneys or the courts, and conducting research in litigation matters. 

Forensic evaluations address a wide array of legal questions, including parental fitness and child custody, criminal and civil competency, insanity defense, personal injury, medical malpractice, fitness for duty, and wrongful termination. 

  • Neuropsychological assessment

Neuropsychological assessments analyze how an individual’s brain works to identify any problems in its functioning. Depending on the scope and intent of the evaluation, testing may focus on a wide range of cognitive functions including attention, memory, language, academic skills, reasoning and problem solving, visuospatial ability, and sensory-motor skills. For instance, a person with a head injury may have to undergo neuropsychological tests to check their brain’s ability to retain information.

  • Personality assessment

A personality assessment focuses on the personality traits of an individual. It helps evaluate if a person is more introverted or extroverted, cautious, or spontaneous, and how they may react or respond to various life situations.

Can testing be done via telehealth?

Yes, but on a very limited basis, and dependent on the type of evaluation. 

We conduct most of the testing in person, apart from self-report questionnaires that can be completed online through the testing companies. 

Psychologists rely on tasks and interpersonal procedures that require in-person interaction, such as the manipulation of physical materials, standardized interactions between assessor and client, and clinical observation of the person in a physical environment, all of which are more difficult to capture remotely.

Does insurance cover testing?

It depends on the insurance company, your specific health plan, and the type of evaluation. There are certain procedures that insurance companies never cover. For instance, educational/academic testing is never covered by insurance and will be an out-of-pocket expense. This is considered an “add-on” to standard evaluations, which is usually covered by insurance. 

We will provide you with whatever assistance we can in helping you receive the benefits to which you are entitled; however, you (not your insurance company) are responsible for full payment of fees. It is very important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers. If you have questions about coverage, call your plan administrator. We will provide you with whatever information we can based on experience and will be happy to help you in understanding the information you receive from your insurance company. 

What if I disagree with the results? Can you rewrite/edit/take out information from the report?

After receiving feedback and the results of an evaluation, it is not uncommon for clients and/or parents to ask psychologists questions such as: 

  • Why wasn’t I (or my child) diagnosed with _______? I just want a specific diagnosis so my child can get special services at work (or school). 
  • My primary care provider won’t prescribe the medication I want until I get this evaluation. Why won’t you just diagnose me with __________?
  • Why won’t you leave that information/diagnosis out of the report? I don’t want that because I don’t want people to think….”
  • Why do I need to do ____________ before I can proceed with my surgery/procedure? My insurance company just needs this evaluation as a formality/technicality. 

Our primary mission is to provide evidence-based, high-quality services in the best interest of our clients. After receiving your results and feedback, you may find out things that are different than what you expected. Our job is to support you by highlighting strengths and identifying areas of vulnerability, while gaining resources to best set you or your child up for success.

My child has difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, can testing still be accomplished?

Yes! We are intentional about how we structure testing and do our best to accommodate each client. We want your child to try their best and set them up for success. For this reason, we schedule testing in the morning and offer breaks throughout the time block. At times, we might need to break testing sessions out over two or three days, depending on the child and type of evaluation. We’ll keep you informed throughout the process as well.

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Phoenix Behavioral Health Center, PLLC
2112 Bienville Blvd Ste K
Ocean Springs MS, 39564

Phone: 228.819.2171
Secure Fax: 228.205.4986
Email: hello@phoenixpllc.com

Monday - Friday 8 AM - 5 PM
Evening and weekend hours available upon request.