A comprehensive diagnostic evaluation starts with a clinical history. Along with conducting a detailed, clinical interview with the individual, this may take the form of reviewing past records, interviewing significant others, and conducting a mental status exam if appropriate. Based on this initial history, the psychologist will select tests that will address the questions and concerns that initiated the evaluation. Some examples of questions that might be addressed are: Why is this child having trouble in school? What is the clearest diagnosis that can be established? Why is this individual having memory difficulties? What factors are contributing to his person’s anxiety? Why hasn’t this person progressed in therapy?
Most tests are designed to measure some aspect of the person’s functioning. This might be intellectual abilities, degree of depression, or personality characteristics. The person will achieve a score or profile from a particular test and the findings are then compared to a group of similar individual’s to see how they compared to other individuals in general. The psychologist then draws conclusions and make predictions based on these comparisons.