What Happens in a Psychiatric Evaluation?

If you are new to therapy or exploring different treatment options, you may have heard of a psychiatric evaluation. A “psych” evaluation sounds intimidating, but in reality it’s more like “pre-therapy.” Millions of Americans are diagnosed with a treatable mental illness each year. These disorders can range from anxiety, to depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, and more. Most of these mental illnesses can be treated or managed through medication. To do so, treatment often starts with a psychiatric evaluation.

What is a Psychiatric Evaluation?

During a psychiatric evaluation, a doctor or licensed mental health professional will talk with you about any symptoms you are experiencing. Understanding your concerns help identify possible causes of your distress and develop the best treatment plan moving forward. Psych evaluations are very detailed, but give great insight into your overall health and wellbeing. Each evaluation is different, because each person’s symptoms and behaviors are different. Being as open and honest as possible will help the doctor understand your situation and determine which psychological testing is best for you. 

What Are the Types of Psychological Testing?

A psychological evaluation test is much like a process of problem solving. The doctor uses specific tests to determine the core components of your mental health, personality or IQ. You may receive testing for more personalized components as well. It’s important to remember that psychological testing is not only a means of determining your weaknesses, but also your strengths! Depending on your specific testing, it can last anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to a full day. 

Psychological testing is divided into four primary types:

Clinical Interview: The clinical interview is an opportunity for your doctor to gather important background information and family data. You may be asked a lot of questions from various stages in your life. 

Assessment of Intellectual Functioning (IQ): Your IQ or “intellectual quotient” is a measure of general intelligence. While intellectual functioning tests are common in psychiatric evaluations, these tests do not measure actual intelligence — they measure what we believe might be important components of intelligence.

Personality Assessment: Your personality is a complex combination of factors that have been developed over your entire lifespan. Personality assessments are designed to help better understand what makes you unique and which genetic, environmental and social components impacted you over time. 

Behavioral Assessment: Behavioral assessments measure a person’s actual behavior to try and better understand thought processes, reinforcing components, or triggers. This assessment can track your negative behaviors to help change them over time. 

Signs You May Need a Psychological Evaluation Test

It’s normal to experience stress, sadness, mood swings, and other types of emotional distress from time to time. When things become more serious, these negative feelings and symptoms can interfere with daily life. Majority of the time, families, partners, teachers, or friends are the first to suspect that their loved one is emotionally struggling. 

These struggles can occur from inner feelings, behaviors, or environmental conditions. When these struggles are left untreated, problems with relationships, work, school, sleeping and eating may occur. While these symptoms are more common, others may experience rebellion, developmental issues, substance abuse and more. If you have noticed these changes within yourself or a loved one, it’s important that you seek help to treat these problems. 

Signs You or a Loved One May Need a Psychological Evaluation Test:

  • Confused thinking, delusions, or hallucinations
  • Persistent feelings of depression, sadness, irritability, or hopelessness
  • Extreme highs or lows in mood
  • Excessive fears, worries, or anxieties
  • Withdrawal from socializing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Strong feelings of anger or guilt
  • Trouble completing daily tasks, work, or school assignments
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Excessive or unusual rebellion, theft, vandalism, or skipping school in children or teens

What Can You Do From Home to Evaluate?

Self-diagnosing is never a good idea – neither is attempting to treat your own disorder. While you should never attempt to diagnose yourself, there are things you can do on your own to begin the process prior to therapy. 

Create a List of Your Symptoms and Symptom-Related Issues

Understanding your mental illness and getting a better idea of what you may be dealing with, all starts with learning more about your symptoms and how they are impacting you.

Take a Look Into Potential Disorders

Learning more about what you may be dealing with is always helpful when beginning therapy. We encourage you to take a look at some of the most common mental illnesses to learn more about what you could be facing.

Improve Your Self-Care Routine

Self-care often goes a long way when it comes to alleviating symptoms of mental illness. Before and during therapy, make sure to take care of yourself to the best of your ability. Self-care helps to make things easier as you work through this challenging time in life. 

Psychological Evaluation Testing in St. Petersburg and Tampa Florida

Finding the right counselor, psychiatrist, or mental health professional may take some time. When it comes to your mental health and wellbeing, the relationship between you and your counselor is the key to success. 

If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, we encourage you to call our office. The team at McNulty Counseling and Wellness takes a holistic approach to promote balance in all areas of your life. We understand that not all brains react alike. We offer a variety of treatments from art therapy to therapy dogs to ensure that you are paired with your perfect program. Contact us here or call us at 727-344-9867 to schedule a remote consultation or an in-person session at our Saint Petersburg or Tampa, Florida office.