What is a Psychological Assessment?


A psychological assessment is usually a confidential investigation to determine underlying diagnosis, if any, or to conceptualize symptoms, difficulties faced by a child. Essentially, it is a process of trying to understand the child, barriers in learning or delays in development. It highlights strengths and difficulties, so that the child can be better supported or moved forward.

The process often include an observation, individual work with the child, looking at examples of work, discussions with parents, teachers, other adults working with the child and the child him or herself. Individual work with the child aims to assess their IQ or cognitive processing skills (which typically include verbal and non-verbal problem solving, memory and processing speed). The child’s learning skills are also assessed so that gaps in their learning can be identified and addressed.

Parents and Teachers may be asked to complete questionnaires for additional data about attitudes, behaviour and social-emotional skills. Occasionally, the psychologist may need to do an observation in the child natural environment—school or home.

The assessment will typically take up to 3-4 hours. For this reason, it might spread over two sessions. After the assessment, the psychologist will go away and analyse the results as well as make sense of all the information collected. The assessment is written up in a comprehensive report. The report will be discussed and given to the parent within two weeks from the date of assessment. To facilitate communications of the recommendations from the assessment, a member of the school teaching staff, or learning support teacher, is ideally requested to attend the review meeting.

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