The  assessment psychodiagnostics  is a  clinical investigation process  whose principal purpose is to  know the level of development and cognitive functioning, emotional and behavioral  of the person so as to take so responsible for decisions that affect them. From a clinical point of view, the decisions may involve the shared choice of a  psychotherapeutic treatment or referral to other professionals / specialized centers  for further investigations and therapies.

The psychodiagnostic evaluation is carried out  both before starting a treatment , to understand the problem reported by the user, and during  and after the intervention , to monitor the path taken and evaluate the final results of the therapy.


Specifically, the psychodiagnostic evaluation is characterized by the use of various cognitive, prevention, diagnosis and intervention tools, such as the  clinical interview, observation, the use of batteries of tests and interviews, self-report questionnaires,  which allow to investigate the functioning of the subject and to “give a  name”  to the problem or difficulty presented.

In clinical practice we psychologists make use not only of  standardized  and scientifically recognized tools , but also of some international reference diagnostic manuals, including the  DSM – 5  ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, APA, 2014 ) and  the ICD-10  ( International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Tenth Revision, WHO, 1990 ), which guide us in identifying the ailments and difficulties of the general population.

In particular, I deal with the psychodiagnostic evaluation of children aged 5/6 up to young adulthood , from the last year of kindergarten to university studies.

Let’s now see in detail what the psychodiagnostic evaluation consists of in the different age groups and how I usually proceed, step by step, to carry out a  good specialist clinical investigation .


Evaluations for DSA and Problems in Developmental Age.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (King, et al, 1995), the objectives of developmental psychodiagnostic assessment are:

  • identify the reasons and factors  that led the child / young person to the evaluation;
  • obtain an accurate picture  of the developmental functioning of the child / young person, of the nature and level of their behavioral difficulties (functional impairments, subjective concerns, resources / strengths, cognitive, emotional, affective and relational areas);
  • identify individual, family and environmental factors  that can explain, influence or improve the child / young person’s difficulties;
  • establish if a psychopathological disorder is present  and, if necessary, make a differential diagnosis;
  • establish if treatment is necessary  and develop a therapeutic intervention project, making the child / young person and his / her family fully involved.


But what are the phases that characterize the psychodiagnostic evaluation with children and adolescents? In my clinical practice, developmental psychodiagnostic assessment usually involves  five important steps :

1) The assessment of needs and requests

In this first phase I receive information  on the development, the clinical history of the child and the young person through a first clinical psychological interview with the parents and / or the people who live most closely with him, analyzing in detail the type of request;

2) Neuropsychological evaluation

In this second phase, based on the information obtained from the first interview, I choose the  test tools  to explore the problems identified in phase 1 with the aim of obtaining a complete and reliable picture of the child’s and young people’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning . This phase includes:

  • the clinical interview;
  • direct observation of behavior;
  • evaluation with standardized test tools for clinical investigation.

3) The analysis of the data and information collected

In this phase I  process the information collected  to obtain a picture as objective and coherent as possible on the functioning of the subject and I code the data of the tests and questionnaires administered. On the basis of the outcome of this analysis I subsequently draw up a  detailed clinical report  in which the results of the psychodiagnostic evaluation are reported and a project with proposals for intervention to enhance the abilities of the child, the family (and possibly the school) are attached;

4) The return

I present  the results  of the psychodiagnostic evaluation by sharing them and explaining them to the parents;

5) Taking charge or sending a specialist

Once the shared therapeutic intervention project has been accepted, I agree with the parents  the beginning of the empowerment or psychotherapeutic path with the child and the boy . Regarding the enhancement treatments, depending on the type of disorder or difficulty identified, the intervention can be divided into individual cycles of habilitation / rehabilitation treatment, strengthening and consolidation of the prerequisites and skills for the acquisition of reading, writing and calculation. , support in identifying an effective study method and strategies, enabling aimed at the use of compensatory tools, metacognitive awareness paths, indications and support for parents and teachers to face and manage difficulties correctly.

In case of  Specific Learning Disorder  , collaboration with the school is envisaged for the elaboration of  the Personalized Didactic Plan  (PDP-Miur). In the case of problems that require further clinical or specialist investigations or different types of treatment not provided by me, I propose to the family that they be sent to other specialists or local reference services.


The psychodiagnostic evaluation with the adult allows to define, explain and identify  the nature of the problem  or symptomatology  reported by the person.

In clinical practice, I use standardized  questionnaires and tests , referring to national regulatory criteria, to evaluate the functioning, the personality of the patient and measure the mood or the level of anxiety perceived in the different situations of daily life. The psychodiagnostic assessment also takes into account the linguistic and cultural context in which the person lives, as well as his or her educational and learning history in the culture and language of origin (APA, DSM-5, 2014).

But what are the objectives of the psychodiagnostic evaluation with the adult?

We can summarize them in these  five points :

  • identify the circumstances that led you to the assessment;
  • obtain an accurate picture of the evolutionary functioning, resources and strengths, extent of the difficulty and of the reported symptoms;
  • identify the factors (individual, family, or environmental) that can explain and influence the difficulties encountered;
  • make a diagnosis;
  • indicate any therapeutic interventions.


What are the phases that characterize the psychodiagnostic evaluation with the adult?

Specifically, I take these five phases into consideration.

1) Analysis of the request

In this first phase, through an  initial individual clinical interview, I  collect some relevant information on the clinical and life history to understand the problem;

2) Evaluation

In this phase, using the use of  test and clinical investigation tools,  I evaluate the cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning;

3) The analysis and processing of information

In this phase  I examine the information collected , I encode the data and, based on the outcome of this analysis, I  draw up a specialist clinical report  in which the results of the psychodiagnostic evaluation are reported. Finally, I attach to the report a project with proposals for intervention;

4) The return

At the end of the psychodiagnostic evaluation process I  issue a clinical report  which I share and explain in the final restitution meeting, eventually agreeing on an intervention path;

5) The intervention

Depending on the type of disorder or difficulty that emerged from the assessment, different types of intervention can be activated  . In particular, the intervention with the adult may concern:

  • in the case of SLD, the strengthening of the study method (support, support, learning strategies and techniques for memorization, self-study and preparation of university exams / written tests / oral tests / competitions / driving license exam preparation);
  • in case of emotional disturbances, such as anxiety and mood disorders, or difficulties in social and working relationships, individual psychotherapy with a cognitive-behavioral orientation;
  • in case of traumatic situations, negative experiences, or post-traumatic stress, an individual psychotherapy with EMDR treatment ( Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ).
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