Icon for The Psychological Testing Center of San Francisco
Image for Psychological Testing

Psychological Testing

Psychological and Neuropsychological Testing
Psychological testing is a ‘short-cut’ to understanding a person’s psyche which consists of
administering a series of standardized tests. Psychological testing emphasizes analysis of
emotions and personality whereas neuropsychological testing emphasizes analysis of cognitive
functioning. The latter includes assessment of general intellectual ability, memory, attention,
language, processing speed, and visual-perceptual skills. Testing aids in determining your
unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and what condition(s) you may have.
The nature and scope of the assessment will be determined by Dr. Waterworth once you have
shared your concerns. Fees and related factors will be agreed upon before proceeding with the
Psychological and neuropsychological testing are very useful when:

  • An individual wonders if they have a certain condition.
  • A therapist or psychiatrist needs assistance in gaining diagnostic clarity
  • An individual chronically struggles in some aspect of his/her life but cannot figure out what the problem is, or how to change it.

Some psychological tests are obvious in what they are measuring. For example, they may ask questions about depression, anxiety, or concentration problems. On the other hand, some tests are less obvious in what they are measuring, which allows the individual to ‘just be themselves’ and not try to present or answer in a certain way. Two of the most common psychological tests which are less obvious are the MMPI and the Rorschach Inkblot Test. (Both of these tests are given here at the Center) People are often curious about The Inkblot Test because it seems more like astrology or a psychic reading, but in fact, it is actually extremely insightful and statistically valid. It can detect less obvious signs of psychosis, depression, and suicidality.

Psychological Testing FAQs

What is psychological testing?
Psychological testing is a process which includes the use of standardized tests as well as a review of symptoms and history. These tests are based upon normative behavior patterns for the ‘average person,’ or upon the behavior of individuals who have certain problems –i.e., attention deficit disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder. These tests are mostly not like typical tests where there are right and wrong answers. Rather, they are designed to get to know you in a quick and methodical manner.

Why is it useful to do psychological testing?
Psychological testing is useful for many reasons. First of all, it is often an expedient way to find out the answer to certain diagnostic questions, such as whether an individual has an attention deficit disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder. Secondly, the questions on these tests are not always obvious, which helps to ascertain a genuine outcome. For example, teenagers do not always want to admit when they feel depressed, but psychological tests can sometimes reveal that they may in fact be depressed in a way that is beyond their awareness. Finally, psychological test results are compared against the overall population of particular age groups, which helps to determine whether an individual’s behavior or symptoms are in fact ‘normal,’ or whether they are indicative of a disorder.

Is it stressful to do psychological testing? No, most people think it is fun.  The tests are new and unique and constantly changing.  People enjoy learning about themselves and through this process they gain new insights and information.

Are people sometimes disappointed by the results? Yes, sometimes people become invested in thinking about themselves in a certain way and the testing reveals them to be different from that long-held assumption.  Also, some conditions feel more acceptable than others, with some conditions seeming to be more ‘bad news’ than good news.  If this happens with you, Dr. Waterworth will process your feelings and assist you in coming to a new and, hopefully, acceptable understanding of yourself.

What tests will be used in the psychological evaluation? We typically begin with a few core tests which address cognitive abilities and emotional functioning.  Then, test selection is based upon the referral question and what you are trying to discern about yourself.  The details of the length of evaluation and associated costs will be specified before the evaluation begins.