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Psychological Evaluation

What is a Psychological Evaluation?

A psychological evaluation, or psych evaluation, is an assessment of an individual’s mental health performed by a mental health professional for the purpose of determining whether or not the individual suffers from any mental health conditions. The professional makes a preliminary assessment of the severity of those conditions, and a general recommendation of where the individual might go to get care. If that professional is empowered to, he or she can also provide medication, or a referral for other services.

Why do People Need a Psych Evaluation?

For Yourself

There are a few primary reasons why an individual might want a psych evaluation. People often wrestle with symptoms that they cannot fully understand. Until they have a psych evaluation, they may believe that these problems are just a part of everyday life. Once they begin to see that their situation is not normal, they may become open to the possibility of seeking help.

For a Loved One

If you live with a person who struggles with addiction or other troubling mental health symptoms, at a certain point, you may come to feel that enough is enough. You want to give them the benefit of the doubt when they tell you that they can manage, but they seem to get worse. Or maybe they can’t seem to handle certain basic responsibilities. If they are willing, you can help them take a psychological evaluation. They may be grateful to learn that there is a name for the condition they suffer from, and that help is available.

For Employment

A number of employers will pay for a candidate for a position to have a psychological evaluation prior to hiring or promoting them. The psych evaluation enables the company to make a wise decision about how their operation is managed; it also protects them from financial liability in the event of a problem. It protects the candidate as well, as those disqualified from the role will avoid a situation that would be more stressful than they could handle.

For Legal Purposes

When the state or an individual is attempting to build a case that depends on the credibility of a witness, sometimes it may be necessary to establish their credibility with a psychological evaluation. This may also prove useful if the investigation is ongoing.

What Can I Expect from an Evaluation?

Everyone is different. Your provider will ask a series of questions which can last for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. If there are no areas of concern, a person may fly right through these questions. Another person might respond in a way that reveals an area of concern which can lead to additional questions.

In some cases, the individual’s responses may warrant a need for further assessment. Separate diagnostic tests can be performed. Some of these assessments may require a medical evaluation. For example, the provider may order a brain scan. After all of the assessments have been conducted, and the results read, the mental health professional then assimilates and analyzes this data to arrive at a diagnosis.

What Types of Diagnoses are Conducted for a Psychological Evaluation?

Clinical Overview

The clinical overview is a preliminary assessment conducted by your mental health provider, where he or she asks you a number of direct questions about your symptoms and experience of life. The assessment can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your responses. To get the most out of it, it is critical to be candid; without honesty, your provider will not be able to recommend additional testing or arrive at a diagnosis that will give you the help and relief that you need.

Behavior Test

A behavioral assessment attempts to identify exactly how you would function under certain circumstances. According to research, these tests can tell your provider a lot about your interests, values, personality, and attitudes. Your responses can also provide talking points for your provider that might help them diagnose a condition you may be suffering from.

Personality Test

While they can sometimes send up red flags that can help a provider identify a chronic mental illness or condition, these tests are really for helping an individual understand themselves better. A standard personality test from an established source can do wonders for helping someone understand his or her strengths and weaknesses. It can lead to choosing a career that suits your personality profile, or help you identify what you are looking for from friends or relationships. In doing so, it can help you avoid considerable stress and heartache.

Essential Care is committed to helping you balance your mental health.

Cognitive Assessments (IQ Tests)

Although not directly related to mental illness or addiction, there are circumstances in which a person may benefit from knowing their IQ. For example, you may want to ensure that your children get an education that is appropriate for their ability. Certain jobs or fields may require an individual capable of high cognitive function. A standardized IQ assessment can help a person find a career or niche that is suitable for his or her talents that will be financially and emotionally satisfying.

Medical Exam

Although questions are useful for understanding what a patient’s symptoms look like from their point of view, a medical evaluation can provide additional insight. A brain scan, CT scan, MRI, or blood work can provide a structural or biochemical explanation for symptoms that a patient might have no way of knowing about. A medical evaluator should consider carefully the patient’s symptoms to make sure that he or she is running the right tests, and looking at the right metrics.


After completing any and all required tests, your mental health provider should have enough information to make an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s condition. The purpose of the evaluation is to empower the individual, to make recommendations as to where and how they can get help, or what changes to make so that they will not need help in the future. Once a person knows how to manage their own symptoms, they can meet life on its terms, and be there for the people that matter to them.

Choose Essential NJ for Your Psychological Evaluation

Essential Care NJ is a comprehensive source for mental and behavioral health services for New Jersey residents. If you or a loved one is wrestling with undiagnosed symptoms, we can provide a thorough psychological evaluation to pinpoint exactly what you are dealing with, and get you the help you need. We also offer telehealth for our services, so we can help you anywhere, as long as you have internet access. Our goal is to provide the help you need to face life with confidence and clarity of purpose. There’s no shame in asking for help, and you’ll be much better off with it than without.

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