Emotional screening usually forms part of a general psychological assessment. The purpose of screening is to gain an overall impression of how a child perceives himself/herself and his/her world. The assessment gives an indication of child’s self-image (intra-psychic), his/her perception of family interaction and the family unit. In an emotional screening test, the therapist can also get an idea of how the child views school, school work and his/her academic achievement and how he or she is perceived by peers, authority figures and other significant persons.
The tests used in an emotional screening vary depending on the individual psychologist conducting the assessment.
There are a vast number of tests available but the most commonly used in a general initial screening are the ones described below. They can be broadly divided into two groups:
Structured tests which include formal questionnaires of different kinds, for example, personality, self-esteem, anxiety questionnaires. Structured interviews can also be conducted with children. The structured tests give an indication of how the child perceives him/herself on a conscious level and shows what type of image he/she wishes to project to the outside world.
Projective Testing tries to tap into the child’s unconscious and reveals things which the child is repressing and is unwilling or unable to talk about openly.
The child’s responses to projective assessments (DAP, KFD, Incomplete Sentences), a brief interview, together with clinical impressions based on observations and information given by parents, provide some insight into his/her current perception of her/his world, his/her sense of self and his/her relationships with others.
The child’s responses are carefully analysed and an interpretation is done looking at the child as a whole. All findings must been seen in the light of how the child is functioning in his or her environment.