The Importance of Psychological and Neuropsychological Testing

If you are looking for clarification of diagnoses (e.g. ADHD, Autism, learning disorders, depression, or anxiety), further support to aid in treatment with your therapy or psychiatry providers, determine eligibility for school accommodations, have concerns with memory, or obtain a general and better understanding of yourself, psychological testing may be the right fit for you.

While psychological testing may sound intimidating, so many people have been helped and have found relief after receiving a testing evaluation. Perhaps you’ve wondered if this type of testing could help you put a finger on how your child learns, or why they struggle. What if it could help them have an easier time in school? What if it could help you as a parent, to help you understand why they react the way they do, and how you could better deal with it? What if you could have a comprehensive, definitive, and up-to-date diagnosis to better know yourself?

They are Medical Tests

Psychological testing is very similar to, and just as important, as medical tests, such as x-rays or blood tests. Just as your primary care doctor would use those tests to put together a treatment plan to help you feel better, psychologists do the same to help a wide range of problems. In fact, some medical tests may not recognize early signs of potential neurological and memory problems, while neuropsychological testing can do just that. Most services involved with psych testing are usually covered by major insurance as well.

They can help to diagnose and treat depression, ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, cognitive or developmental delay, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, behavior problems, impulsivity/poor judgment/struggles making positive choices, sensory over or under-sensitivity, executive functioning difficulties, vocational problems, communication disorders, dementia, memory problems, learning and academic problems, Dyslexia, visual and auditory learning disorders, and giftedness.

Psychologists administer tests and assessments for a wide variety of reasons. Children who are experiencing difficulty in school, for example, may undergo aptitude testing or tests for learning disabilities. Tests for skills such as dexterity, reaction time and memory can help a neuropsychologist diagnose conditions such as brain injuries or dementia,” says the American Psychological Association (APA).

“If a person is having problems at work or school, or in personal relationships, tests can help a psychologist understand whether he or she might have issues with anger management or interpersonal skills, or certain personality traits that contribute to the problem. Other tests evaluate whether clients are experiencing emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression.”

Testing and Assessments

Testing and assessments are different types of tools psychologists use to evaluate their patients, to decide upon a diagnosis, and to develop a treatment plan.

At LifeStance Health, the testing process begins with a 1-hour clinical interview to obtain relevant background information (e.g. family background, social relationships, medical/developmental/mental health history, school history, work history, and overall presenting concerns). Once the testing intake is complete, in person testing sessions typically take place anywhere from four to six hours.

Psychological and Neuropsychological tests collectively include assessments that measure intellectual functioning (e.g. intellectual disability and giftedness), attention and executive functioning (e.g. ADHD), achievement abilities (e.g. learning disorders and giftedness), memory and learning abilities (e.g. dementia), behavior concerns (e.g. Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder), reality testing and psychological disturbances (e.g. Schizophrenia), and social-emotional functioning (e.g. personality disorders, anxiety, and depression). Additionally, LifeStance Health offers in-depth evaluations for Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as by utilizing the gold standard for measuring Autism with the ADOS-2. Lastly, LifeStance also assesses clients who are nonverbal, as young as three-years-old.

Following the in-person testing appointment, the psychologist writes the report and schedules the feedback session within 1 to 2 months. During the testing feedback, the psychologist provides the client/client’s parents an overview of the evaluation, the appropriate diagnosis, and recommendations to aid in the client’s optimal well-being, and places requested referrals to LifeStance’s medication or therapy providers. LifeStance’s psychologists also take proper care of the client by forwarding the evaluation with the client’s permission to other mental health and medical providers (e.g. pediatrician, primary care physician, psychiatrist, guidance counselor, and therapist) to ensure continued care and management.

Why Choose LifeStance?

Browse our locations directory or find a psychologist near you to get started with testing and evaluation. Our clinical staff highlights our diverse skills and specialties as well as our ability to provide guidance and insight across an array of important issues that may be touching your life.

Reasons for Psych/Neuropsych Testing

  1. Get “Unstuck.” A psychological/neuropsychological evaluation offers the opportunity to initiate client change – especially for those clients who feel “stuck.” Seeing test results can be a great way for patients to gain additional perspectives to what might be going on for them. Just as a quick reminder, we test/rule out/clarify diagnostically for the following for individuals of all ages:
  • Academic
  • ADHD
  • Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Autism
  • Behavior issues (e.g. Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, DMDD)
  • Emotional disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression, etc.)
  • Gender Affirmation Surgery Eval
  • Insanity and Fitness to Stand Trial Court Evals
  • Intellectual + Developmental Disabilities
  • Memory deficits
  • Non-Verbal Cognitive Testing
  • Personality Disorders (e.g. Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, etc)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Pre-Surgical Evals (e.g. Pain or Bariatric)
  • Psychosis (e.g. Hallucinations, Delusions, Reality Testing)
  • Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain (SOAPP) Evaluations
  1. Get Help. Testing can help facilitate the development of 504 or IEP plans or make suggestions for supportive therapies, such as speech, OT, or psychiatry in the school or employment settings. Our team is trained in the diagnosis of Autism, ADHD, and Learning Disorders, as well as emotional and personality disorders. Fall is a great time of year to get kids tested, as this gives schools plenty of time to implement feedback and suggestions for the year!
  2. Get Insight. Testing can help gain a deeper, more complete understanding of the problem you are working on together in treatment. It can help clients and their families understand what drives a client’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions in order to provide better support, services, and compassion for one another.
  3. Get Direction. Patients often seek the help of psychologists to assist with making important life decisions. Testing is an efficient, accurate, and objective way of gathering information that can be used in therapeutic discussions. Topics can range from schooling, to employment, to relationships, or to surgeries that impact one’s identity or health. Results from testing can also help inform decisions regarding fitness for surgeries or to stand trial, ability to care for oneself, or to assess a wide variety of neuropsychological issues related to medical diagnoses or cognitive concerns such as dementia.

Authored By 

Amber Jelinek, PsyD
Amber Jelinek, PsyD

Dr. Amber Jelinek offers psychological and neuropsychological testing and DBT skills group for Illinois. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specialized in Forensics and Neuropsychology. When testing, she works with ages 6+ and assesses for academic issues, autism, ADHD, cognitive and executive functioning, memory, mood, personality, PTSD, and thought disorders. Prior to joining LifeStance, she facilitated group therapy and other various skills groups for 14 years in correctional type settings. Her journey has given her vast experience with providing treatment for all the diagnostic issues she now assesses. When teaching skills groups, she uses a combination of lecture and experiential methods. In addition to impromptu modeling of skills, she pulls from personal or made-up situations to use as examples for various skills to help see the skill(s) in motion. These methods help to optimize the deepest understanding and practice of the skills being taught.

Reviewed By

Daniel Laluna, PsyD, Clinical Director
Daniel Laluna, PsyD, Clinical Director

Dr. Daniel Laluna, Regional Clinical Director, is a licensed clinical psychologist, who has extensive experience and expertise providing neuropsychological/psychological testing, as well as therapy services for children, adolescents, and adults. He specializes in providing comprehensive testing evaluations (e.g. ADHD, Autism, IQ, Learning Disorders, Personality Disorders, Anxiety, Depression, Memory, and Pre-Surgical). Additionally, he has extensive therapy experience working with children and adolescents with issues such as anxiety, self-esteem, bullying, school refusal, depression, parental divorce, impulsivity, behavior struggles, and grief/loss. He utilizes various treatment modalities that best fit each client’s individual treatment areas, needs, and concerns.

Dr. Laluna received a BA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and PsyD with a concentration in child and adolescent mental health from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He emphasizes attachment and relationships as a key element to the progress and well-being of his clients. He also integrates play therapy, expressive arts therapy, and insight-oriented therapy as part of his approach.