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Psychological vs. Neuropsychological Testing
Comparison and Differences

Clinical professionals, treatment programs, and educational institutions request psychological testing to aid in treatment planning and ensure they are accepting students for whom they can be most helpful. Psychological testing is an essential part of effective treatment planning. 

Standard Psychological/Diagnostic Evaluations 

Standard psychological/diagnostic evaluations include clinical interviews, testing of cognitive and personality characteristics, a write-up of test results, and consultations with the therapist and consultants. Standard testing includes:

o   Cognitive Testing: IQ and achievement testing to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a persons thinking. General assessment of eleven domains including: general awareness, attention, verbal comprehension, visual-spatial ability, computation, abstract thought, impulsivity, problem solving, social comprehension, and judgment. Gross learning disabilities are also ruled out.

o   Emotional: Assess emotional functioning and assess for depression, anxiety, deficits in identity formation, obsessive/compulsive disorders, and sleep disorders. Assess personality functioning. Obtain data regarding developmental and emotional age. Obtain data regarding family dynamics.

o   Behavioral: Evaluate substance abuse. Evaluate for trauma and abuse. Evaluate for risk of self-harm, aggression, and treatment compliance or flight. Detect malingering, deceit, and exaggeration. Screen for behaviors that are high risk, illegal, or violate the rights of others or major social values. Rule out thought disorders and screen for organic impairment. 

o   Executive Functioning: We believe every student’s EF skills should be evaluated in a standard psych evaluation. EF development is highly correlated with outcome, and should be included in treatment planning. Executive functioning assessment evaluates: accountability, self-regulation, problem solving, planning, organization, inhibition, meta-cognition (self-awareness), communication, and working memory. 


Comprehensive Neuropsychological Evaluations  

Comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations are used when there is evidence to suggest neurological problems like: ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum, nonverbal learning disorder, alcohol or drug related damage, brain injury or concussion, or other neurologic conditions. Neuropsychology is the unique integration of genetic, developmental, and environmental history with extensive testing data to better understand brain functioning. 

While standard psych testing can diagnosis a condition like ADHD based upon behavior, neuropsychological testing can specify the origin, severity, and development of a disorder and then customize recommendations to create a specific treatment plan.

Building upon the standard evaluation, neuropsychological evaluations assess:  

  • Attention and Concentration
  • Verbal and Visual Memory
  • Auditory and Visual Processing
  • Visual-Spatial Functioning
  • Language and Reading skills
  • Phonology and Audiology
  • Sensory Integration
  • Gross and Fine Motor Development
  • Executive Functioning
  • Collateral information and Behavioral Assessment is sought from parents, educators, doctors, and therapists when appropriate.