One of the things that makes my assessment practice at Brainsight a little different is that I do all of my own testing. Many other psychologists employ psychometrists—professionals who are trained to administer tests—to do all of their data collection. These colleagues of mine conduct an intake interview with the client, schedule testing sessions between the client and the psychometrist, who tests the client and passes the results back to the psychologist, who in turn interprets the results and meets with the client to go over them. This is pretty standard practice in the field of psychology, and in fact, I have practiced this way myself. It’s not necessarily a bad way of doing an evaluation. It greatly depends who your psychometrists are and how you trained them.
So why do I personally do all of my own testing at Brainsight? There are at least two key reasons. The most significant is that a lot of important things happen during the testing process. Sometimes the way a client does something says as much about them and what they’re trying to figure out as the quantitative data. Important things get lost when we only look at the test results. For instance, I was recently working with a 10-year-old boy, who scored in the 95th percentile on a test that evaluated math problem solving abilities. Two things were really critical relative to how he achieved that impressive score: first, as the problems became more complex and he couldn’t do them in his head anymore, he drew pictorial representations of word problems (although he wasn’t instructed in the so-called Singapore math teaching method, he was using it with great success). Second, it took him forever to work through those problems. He spent about 45 minutes doing something that the typical children his age can do in about 15 minutes. Granted, he produced a great score, but it took time. There’s much more to this story, but suffice it to say that his method and the amount of time it took him to be so successful wasn’t reflected in the quantitative data. Sitting with him, observing his approach, and asking him questions after he was done all contributed to my interpretation of the data and my academic recommendations.
My second reason for returning to testing is perhaps a little selfish. Simply put, I get to know my clients better. I definitely learn a lot about them during the intake session, but I get to know them so much better over the course of one to three testing sessions. The relationship becomes more familiar, and clients act more naturally. I get a better sense who they are. I learn their sense of humor. I observe how they handle stress and anxiety. I can see what they do when they become frustrated. The better I know my clients the better I can frame the results for them at the feedback session, and the better I can personalize recommendations to their specific needs.
It’s more labor intensive doing all of my own testing. I can’t help as many clients as I could when I had others do my testing for me. But I wouldn’t go back. Working with my clients from start to finish every step of the way allows me to be offer a level of assessment that improves outcomes for my clients and that I’m very proud of providing.