Douglas Wayland-Smith, PhD | Experience & Credentials | Assessment & Testing | Forms
Wayland-Smith / Psychological Testing
Telephone 860.435.9292
31 Porter Street/PO Box 1942
Lakeville CT 06039


Testing is often perceived as “mysterious” but most people find the logic and scientific foundation immediately understandable once it is explained.  Psychological testing is rooted in the behavioral sciences and a strong empirical footing is essential for any good test.   While no test is "perfect," simply put, this means that tests measure what they claim to (i.e. they are valid) and do so with reasonable consistency (i.e. they are reliable).  

Tests work by grouping people on different dimensions or by evaluating their performance on standardized tasks or scales.  Comparing raw scores to reference data yields insight into what is typical or expected for a person given their age or other characteristics.  While clinical judgment is also involved, this process makes for an objective and scientific approach to evaluating traits and broader questions (e.g., intellectual functioning or "IQ," attention, memory, reading ability, personality types, depressive symptomatology, etc.). 

Thus, just as lab values, x-rays and medical tests complement history taking and physical examinations, psychological tests complement traditional interviewing, observation, therapy sessions and the like.  In fact, testing is one of the few alternatives to these time-honored techniques and it is particularly useful when the former have not yielded clarity or a desired level of treatment success.  

Because most problems exist on a continuum, it is also important to recognize that assessment provides data to guide decision-making (i.e. if a problem exists and, if so, how significant is it?).  This is especially important when other professionals feel unsure or disagree or when someone is deciding whether or not to begin an intervention (e.g. starting a trial of medicine, therapy or remediation). Finally, repeated assessment can inform decisions about the efficacy of a treatment (e.g. if someone improves with stimulant medication or after a remedial reading program).

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Diagnostic psychological tests can be divided into 4 basic groups: 

  • Intellectual,
  • Neuropsychological,
  • Academic/achievement, and
  • Social-emotional.  

The types of tests that are used in an evaluation depend on the questions being asked.  

Questions to be answered are developed during initial contacts and a group of measures is then selected to “test out” different hypotheses.  

Usually 1 or 2 meetings are held where interviews take place and tests are administered.  The tests are then scored, interpreted and synthesized with other data into a "report" which can be brief or extensive depending on the situation.  Finally, the impressions and recommendations from the assessment are discussed in a feedback session where an overall plan for moving forward is developed.

Psychological Assessment and Testing

Douglas Wayland-Smith | Experience & Credentials | Assessments & Testing | Forms & Contact Information