A psychological assessment is a mental health examination used to evaluate a person’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as to aid in diagnosing any potential mental health issues. Psychiatrists and doctors often use several different psychological assessment tools to aid in this evaluation and help them to gain a clear picture of a patient’s mental state. For those under the age of 18, the two most common tools used are the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) and the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI). The primary tests used for those over 18 years of age are broken down into two categories: objective and projective tools.
One of the most common psychological assessment tools is the BASC, which is meant for children between the ages of 2 and 21. This tool uses several different sets of questions, collected from the child, parents or caregivers, and teachers, and then translates this data into a ranking system. The information gathered from this test can provide doctors and psychiatrists with the data needed to see if a child meets the diagnostic criteria for several different mental health issues. Another common psychological assessment tool used for children is the CDI. This tool, which is a set of questions relating to feelings of depression, is specifically meant to aid in diagnosing depression in children between the ages of 6 and 17.
Personality tests are the most widely used psychological assessment tools to evaluate and diagnose mental illnesses and disorders in adults. Objective tests use a rating system or scale to evaluate a patient’s mental state. While there are numerous objective tools used in psychology, the two most common are the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). These types of tests are characterized by a set of statements or questions that a patient responds to with either a true-or-false answer or on a scale, typically between one and five, or one and ten. With some objective psychological assessment tools, a patient will respond to statements with a range of answers from “never,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “always."
Projective tests are also commonly used as tools in evaluating and diagnosing mental health issues in adults, and occasionally those under 18. Unlike objective tests, which provide patients with a set of choices, projective tests are more open-ended. One of the most well-known tools is the Rorschach test, colloquially referred to as the “inkblot test," in which patients are shown a standard set of inkblots, and asked to respond with their initial thoughts or emotions, or to describe of what the inkblot reminds them. In some tools, patients are asked to draw pictures or are shown pictures and asked to explain how the image makes them feel, or to create a story about the image. These types of psychological assessment tools are based more on the understanding and judgment of the psychiatrist, rather than a preset rating scale as with objective tests and tools.