The purpose of psychological testing is to create definitive diagnoses of psychiatric conditions and prescriptive protocols. The testing recommendations give mental health professionals a Road Map for treatment. Therapists, treatment programs, and doctors use recommendations to create an efficient and effective path towards the best possible outcome.
Oh my, what complete bullshit that is!
I mish-mashed a few different official definitions of psychological testing to create the abridged meaning of the term above. Of course, the sources I found were all either psychology academic papers or companies who sell the tests to employers for employee screenings.
I don’t know anyone else who has gone through these series of tests. I don’t think many doctors order that you do them. Most psychiatrists can diagnose you based on what you tell them your symptoms are, your body language, intuition.
Mental illness is difficult to diagnose. There are no blood tests. No brain scans. No X rays. In my experience, doctors seem to sum you up quickly, then take a guess as to which of the hundreds of psych meds might work for you. It’s a crap shoot.
In Part I of this story I talked about how after doing my own research, I was convinced that my doctor’s diagnosis of me (bipolar) was wrong. We literally argued about it. I mean, I know I’m not anywhere close to being a medical doctor. But, I know myself. And she did not.
She recommended that I go through psychological testing and she referred me to a PhD psychologist. Side note: this testing is not covered by insurance and it’s expensive. That alone should tell you something.
I took 3 separate tests. All multiple choice Scantron type tests. They’re supposed to measure things like your personality, temperament, intelligence. Employers use them all the time to weed out candidates who wouldn’t “fit in” at their company.
So rather than doing a long interview with a well trained expert, discussing symptoms, feelings, moods, life events…..you’re put into a tiny windowless room for 3 hours to fill in little bubbles on a sheet. Then said sheet would be fed into a computer and Bam! You would learn your official, accurate diagnosis.
I have taken tons of pre-employment screening tests. The Meyers-Brigg is a famous one. And they all have one fundamental flaw. They’re completely based on YOU analyzing yourself. Questions like: I feel worthless A. Never B. Sometimes C. Often D. All of the time. Page after page of what seemed to be asking only a few questions but in a number of different ways.
Part of it was an IQ test. What in the hell does my IQ have to do with this? The questions were like: a series of shapes in a row and you had to pick the “next” shape. Huh? I don’t think I did well on this part. Side note: I was always at the top of my class in school, I skipped a grade, and graduated from college with a 3.75.
So, say you have bipolar. Or depression. You’re not feeling so hot on the day of your test. Don’t you think that will affect your score? What if you’re not good at standardized tests? Some people have test anxiety.
One week later, I met with the psychologist to get my results. She had a two page written report for me. Did she actually write it or did the computer do it?
The official results: I had Bipolar II plus I had ADHD, the inattentive type. Oh and I was “of average intelligence”. Ouch.
My conclusion: I believe the diagnosis was correct. I should have trusted my Harvard psychiatrist. So, psychological testing is probably a waste of time and money.
P.S. Years later, my son was depressed. He was only 10. I took him to a child psychiatrist and he ended up doing psychological testing too! I think it’s more important for kids. And guess what? He was declared “of high intelligence”. That’s my boy!