What is a Psych Evaluation?
Psych evaluation is an assessment that a psychologist or other mental health professional conducts to determine a diagnosis and plan a course of treatment. Just as a doctor might assess physical health problems with blood tests or X-rays, a mental health clinician performs psych evaluations to assess mental or emotional health problems.
Mental Health Conditions Diagnosed With a Psych Evaluation
A psych evaluation helps psychologists and other clinicians determine what mental health symptoms a person is experiencing and make a diagnosis that corresponds with the symptoms.
A psych evaluation may diagnose any of the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Personality disorders
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders/addictions
People may also undergo a psych evaluation if they are experiencing problems at work, relationship issues or difficulty with anger and emotions. The evaluation can help uncover the root of the problem and allow the psychologist or therapist to develop a treatment plan.
What To Expect During a Psych Evaluation
A psych evaluation is a comprehensive assessment. The mental health professional who conducts it will need to gather in-depth information about various areas of your life, including:
A psych evaluation will likely begin with questions that gather background information about your lifestyle. For instance, the professional will ask about your living situation, what you do for work and whether you are married or in a long-term relationship,
Medical and Mental Health History
The clinician will also gather information about your health history, including whether you have any physical health problems or have received mental health treatment in the past. Your mental health history can help the clinician better understand your current problems, and your medical history may reveal health concerns that are linked to your mental health functioning.
Your perspective on your mental health functioning is important, so a psych evaluation will likely require you to complete self-assessments. For instance, the clinician may ask you to complete questionnaires that screen for conditions like depression or anxiety. You might also complete a self-esteem scale to evaluate your level of functioning. Many of these clinical self-assessments are available in the Nobu app.
During a psych evaluation, professionals also use cognitive assessments to evaluate cognitive functions like judgment, thinking and knowledge. These assessments can reveal any impairments in cognitive functioning that may be contributing to mental health symptoms. For example, deficits with language or attention may be causing psychological symptoms.
Laboratory testing, such as blood work and radiological assessments that evaluate the brain, may also be done. Blood work can help determine if there are any underlying medical issues causing mental health concerns. Further, radiological brain scans can reveal abnormalities that may be interfering with brain functioning and causing psychological symptoms.
The Benefits of a Psych Evaluation
It may seem intimidating to undergo a psych evaluation, but these assessments can be incredibly beneficial. Remember, a psych evaluation is not a test that you can “pass” or “fail.” Instead, it’s an opportunity for a professional to discover the cause of your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment.
Without fully evaluating your medical status, lifestyle, struggles and cognitive functioning, it would be impossible to know what is causing your symptoms. With a full psych evaluation, a professional can learn how best to help you.
How To Request a Psych Evaluation
If you have distressing mental or emotional symptoms and need help, you can start by talking with your primary care doctor and asking for a referral to a mental health specialist. The specialist can provide a psych evaluation and help you begin the treatment process. Another option is to contact a local counseling center or mental health clinic and ask to schedule a psych evaluation.
You can also find accessible treatment through the use of a mental health app or virtual therapist. For those who prefer the self-help approach, the free-to-use Nobu app allows you to complete mental health assessments, work through lessons prepared by health experts and set goals for yourself. For an additional cost, Nobu has licensed therapists ready so you can receive life-changing mental health care via the app’s secure, confidential connection.
Medically Reviewed by – Dr. Angela Phillips
Angela is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, and has worked in public, private, government, and not-for-profit organizations, across clinical and research-oriented roles. Angela’s clinical and research experience has included suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral… Read more.
- American Psychological Association. “Understanding psychological testing and assessment.” 2013. Accessed August 20, 2021.
- County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “Self Screening.” Accessed August 21, 2021.
- Kelso, Ischel Gonzalez; Tadi, Prasanna. “Cognitive Assessment.” StatPearls, January 2021. Accessed August 21, 2021.
- John Hopkins Medicine. “Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation.” Accessed August 20, 2021.