Psychologists, counselors and therapists use psychological testing as a supplement to clinical interviews. Through testing, a lot of information is gathered in a relatively short period of time. Although testing can be impersonal and tedious, the long-term advantages of gathering information in this efficient and objective manner far outweigh the disadvantages. Testing is also cost-efficient. Information that takes several hours of interviewing to obtain is gathered more quickly and more accurately through testing.
Focus on Development
Psychology focuses on change. An advantage of psychological tests is their ability to assess your level of development within a specific area. Measures of career skills and cognitive development, for example, focus specifically on development and provide a place for you and your psychologist to begin talking about change. Other tests, such as personality inventories and instruments, which measure family dynamics, environmental stresses and psychiatric problems, are not focused specifically on development but can be used to guide patients toward change. Test results reveal both strengths and limitations, providing a starting point for how strengths compensate for limitations. Using test results in this fashion, a psychologist will help a patient focus on development as opposed to just focusing on problems.
The information obtained from tests is objective–not just the opinion of a psychologist or a patient's friends and family. Seeing the test results is a great way for a patient to get a clearer picture of himself. Armed with this information, a patient can approach problem solving without feeling forced to do so. Objective measures, such as those obtained from a personality test, help a patient see how he typically goes about problem solving and opens his mind to trying something new. For example, when a patient takes a test that reveals a tendency to take criticism harshly, he will know to attempt to solve problems related to being criticized in a new way. Results also reveal strengths, which can assist with problem solving. When a patient takes a test that shows he has an aptitude for social engagement, he can exploit this advantage by applying it to solving problems.
Patients often seek the help of psychologists to assist with making important life decisions. They may be struggling with school, marriage, parenting or a career and hope a psychologist can help. Testing is an efficient, accurate and objective way of gathering information that can be used in discussions with a psychologist about which decision to make in such circumstances. Although tests are not necessary to have discussions about making decisions, the information can increase a patient's knowledge and help her make more informed decisions.
Tests is give a psychologist an opportunity to educate. Essentially, tests teach people about themselves, and with a psychologist guiding a patient in understanding the test results, simply gaining insight can be a powerful advantage in making progress in treatment. Tests also provide the advantage of establishing a starting point for educating a patient on aspects of mental health in general. With test results specifically relevant to the patient, a psychologist knows the type of information the patient needs to learn in order to make progress in treatment.
- “Psychological Testing and Assessment”; Ronald Jay Cohen and Mark Swerdlik; 2009
- “Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications and Issues”; Robert M. Kaplan and Dennis P. Saccuzzo; 2008
- “Psychological Testing: Principles and Application, 6th Ed."; Kevin R. Murphy; 2005
- The American Psychological Association