The Benefits of Psychological Assessments and When to Use Them

Posted on August 10, 2016
Time to read: 4 minutes

As a clinical psychologist, it is my experience that psychological assessments – involving the use of comprehensive psychometric measures – are the most under-utilised elements in mental health care. Psychological assessments offer enormous power for clinicians and patients. I’ve also found that my colleagues in Psychiatry often have not been afforded the practical opportunity to experience the benefits the psychological assessment process might bring to their own practice.
And the benefits are many.

In this first article of three I want to layout what psychological assessments are and how they can be used to enhance your own practice. Often times, I’ve spoken with psychiatrists struggling with a client who has tried all of the medications, is ambivalent about therapy, and seems to making little to no change in the course of the treatment. It is this situation that I see as perfect for the psychological assessment process that I’m going to share with you in these blog articles on Psych Scene Hub.


Psychological Assessment As A Therapeutic Intervention

Poston, J. M., & Hanson, W. E. (2010) Meta-Analysis of Psychological Assessment as a Therapeutic Intervention, Psychological Assessment, 22 (2), pp. 200-212

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  • Valerie Lynn Peterson

    This was a great article. Seems like an hour long appointment with a Psychiatrist or therapist is not enough time to look at the complexity of the patient. Assessments on the computer or paper are great tools.

    • tdoylepsych

      Hi Valerie, I’m glad you liked the article. One hour cannot capture complexity…and I cannot tell you how many people tell me something kinda vital after several appointments – or several months! One of my follow-up articles will highlight a few (de-identified) cases that capture some of that experience. I look forward to hearing what you think of them. Cheers, Tim.

      • Psychscenehub

        Agree with that! Longitudinal assessments often provide the best information. As new facts emerge, hypotheses change and the management plan changes accordingly.

    • Psychscenehub

      Glad you liked the article. Psychiatric assessments are based on a bio-psycho-social approach and this means that whilst structured assessments are valuable, they may not tease out the interplay between the bio-psycho-social elements (i.e the causality). This requires a formulation and it is for this reason the case formulation plays such an important role. you can read more about that here.

      The biological side of things cannot be underplayed and require a thorough exploration which is not incorporated in many structured psychological tools. one example is in this video.

      In clinical practice, the approach that hoof beats mean horses works most of the time but in some cases an alternate approach is required. In summary multidisciplinary collaboration is more likely to achieve positive outcomes and I often tell patients ‘two heads are better than one.’

  • Nice post. Such tools are used by experienced psychologists and they proved to be very successful.