Therapy in LA
Therapy in L.A.


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  psych bytes
May 2002
By Alan Solomon, Ph.D.

A psychological evaluation usually includes a set of instruments that have been in use for many years, developed in as scientific a way as psychology is capable of, and used with a very wide population of subjects to create as much credibility as possible. Typical instruments are:

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - to evaluate a child's/adolescent's intellectual skills in both verbal and visual realms. An IQ is actually a composite of scores for various question-and-answer tasks and puzzle-like tasks, which measure an individual's skills in such areas as memory, expressive language, social knowledge, analytical thinking, integration of visual stimuli, concentration. The pattern of strengths and weaknesses is what's most important, not the overall scores.
  • Wide Range Achievement Test - evaluates basic skills in word attack (phonics), spelling, and written math. In addition to scores, which can be given in terms of grade level or a number comparable to an IQ score, the specific process that a child employs, as well as his/her errors, are very helpful to understand where a child has strengths and weaknesses in academic efforts.
  • Bender-Gestalt - evaluates visual organization skills, fine motor skills, and underlying neurological functioning. The individual is asked to copy some geometric designs.
  • Thematic Apperception Test - provides material that gives insights into someone's internal world: how they view themselves, relationships, performance expectations, conflict resolution, future possibilities in life. This is an exercise in imaginative story telling, with encouragement/support from the psychologist who writes down stories dictated by the individual to a set of standardized pictures.
  • Rorschach - classic inkblot test, in which an individual describes what an inkblot looks like, reminds a person of, or makes someone think of, dictated to the psychologist, who may encourage the individual to expand upon their initial responses. These ten cards also provide some insight into someone's inner world.
The above instruments are supplemented by the initial interview to secure history from the parents, as well as clinical interview with the child/adolescent. Depending on the initial questions being raised by the parents, as well as data that are collected during the evaluation, additional instruments may be used. These instruments may provide more specific, specialized information in such areas as attention deficit concerns, perceptual processing/learning disabilities, detailed math skills, reading comprehension, writing skills, or sensory motor skills.

As much as possible, an individualized assessment, using particular instruments to provide information needed for each child/adolescent, is developed. This provides an in-depth, detailed understanding of each child with recommendations specifically developed to help each child.

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