Cognitive, symptom, and personality tests include some important tools when assessing a client. Most tests used by clinicians are those chosen for high levels of validity and reliability. That is, the test measures what it is supposed to measure and will give the same results consistently from the same data. Tests can be used to determine any underlying causes for abnormality in order to guide clinicians to providing the best treatment possible.
A wide variety of tests exist, including neuropsychological, brain-imaging techniques, and intelligence tests. In neuropsychological tests, assessment can include examinations of motor deficits caused by brain damage versus deficits not related to brain damage. Meanwhile, brain-imaging techniques can examine the functioning of the brain, including biochemical function and cerebral blood flow. Techniques include such things as computerized tomography, positron-emission tomography, electroencepholography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Tests can also be done to measure intelligence of an individual to determine any mental retardation or deficits in memory, reasoning, and other areas.
There are also tests to focus more closely on the symptoms of the individual and take into consideration the individual's environment. These tests include personality tests such as the widely used Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), and assesses how people think, behave, and feel. Symptom questionnaires can also help with the diagnosis of a mental disorder and are similar to a checklist for diagnosis. An example of a symptom questionnaire for depression is the Beck Depression Inventory, which includes various results as to the severity of the depression.
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Questionnaires can be very useful when gathering information about a client for assessment and diagnosis; however, one needs to be careful when examining results from these tests in order to ensure that they are accurate and scientifically proven, and the influence of culture and outside forces on the answers to the questions must not be ignored.