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Psychological Testing: Psycho-Diagnostic Testing for Depression in Children

Evaluating Depression in Children With Psycho-Diagnostic Testing


Updated September 20, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Psycho-diagnostic testing is a form of psychological assessment to test for depression if your child has or is suspected of having depression.

What Is Psycho-Diagnostic Testing?

Psycho-diagnostic testing can range from a brief screening assessment or a semi-structured interview, to a complete battery of interviews and assessments.

The goal of psycho-diagnostic testing is to determine an accurate mental health diagnosis for your child to guide a safe and effective treatment plan.

Psycho-diagnostic testing utilizes standardized tools to assess your child's emotions, behavior, and thinking against scores of already tested developmentally similar children. This allows the assessor to easily determine what a child's issues are and the severity of her symptoms.


Why Is My Child Being Referred for Testing?

Typically a child is referred for testing if there are diagnostic questions about a child's psychological distress, behavior or coping problems that a child discloses or is noticed by a parent, educator or health care provider.

Who Will Test My Child?

A psychologist will evaluate your child. The testing will occur in a private office or in a hospital setting. However, in some cases your child will be asked to complete self-report assessments on her own time and asked to bring them to the mental health professional later on.

What To Expect

The range of psycho-diagnostic testing may include one or two brief screening assessment, or a full battery of assessments and interviews.

Your child is likely to be interviewed by a mental health professional and given self-report assessments, like the children's depression inventory (CDI) to complete on her own.

As a parent, you may also be interviewed and asked to complete some brief assessments like the child behavior checklist (CBCL) about your child's behavior.

Psycho-diagnostic testing may take several hours to complete, or occur over several days (especially in an in-patient setting).


There is no preparation needed. Encourage your child to answer her best and assure her that she will not be punished for her answers or the outcome of the evaluation.


What Do the Results Tell Me?

It may take a few days to hear the results of the evaluation. Typically the results of the evaluation will confirm a diagnosis such as major depressive disorder (MDD), and indicate the severity of your child's symptoms. This information will be used to determine an appropriate treatment care plan for your child.

Helping your child toward recovery includes finding an accurate diagnosis and level of symptoms. While any type of testing can cause a child to become anxious, finding an accurate diagnosis leads to finding the most effective treatment for your child and gives her the best chance at a speedy recovery.


Gary Groth-Marnat. The Handbook of Psychological Assessments, Fourth Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2003.

Gordon, R.M. The Psychodiagnostic Report for Treatment Recommendations. The Pennsylvania Psychologist Quarterly. 2009 69(3): 17-18

Robert J. Gregory. Psychological Testing: History, Principles, and Applications, 4th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Group, Inc.; 2004.

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  4. Who's at Risk?
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  6. Child Depression
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  8. Psycho-Diagnostic Testing for Depression in Children

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