At All Points North Lodge, we offer a pretty broad range of psychological testing for adults. There’s a couple of different categories here. There’s the cognitive testing that looks, generally speaking at IQ, but more specifically looking at the person’s cognitive capacity and their cognitive abilities. How is their verbal comprehension? How is their perceptual reasoning? What’s their processing speed? How is their working memory? So it can kind of give a general sense of that. And that’s useful for a person who … Sometimes in early recovery, it’s difficult to know, is this person may be dealing with some developmental issues? Are there potentially some consequences of long-term use? Has it impacted their brain and their thinking? Or is this something that’s more likely to resolve? So it gives us a real sense of where the person’s at.
A lot of times with cognitive testing, we give a person a few weeks to kind of get their feet with early sobriety, and then we can give them some tests. If we compare that to some of our other tests with achievement or other things that are generally more stable, we can get a sense of, are they where they should be? Are all of their kind of skills within the same general range or is something early off that needs a little bit of further investigation?
If there is, we can get into a lot of different areas. If there’s something really kind of abnormal or off base, we can start looking really in detail at executive functioning. We can look at neuropsychological functioning as well. We can really dig in with some tests that look at how the various different areas of the brain are performing at any given time and try to get a sense based on those patterns of what might be happening.
What you find in this field if you’re working in addiction, is that somebody who is struggling with a problem related to long-term alcohol use has a pretty specific profile. You see different patterns show up and you see different sort of characteristics. And it’s kind of easy after a while to spot what that looks like. Versus then you might see a very different profile for somebody who maybe has a learning disability or who has attention-related problems. Somebody who might be struggling with early signs of dementia also looks a very different way. So we’re able to look at their patterns of scores on these cognitive and neuropsychological and an executive functioning test and see what’s going on.
We usually start off with ways for cognitive functioning. We’ll use an MMPI or an MCMI for personality and for diagnostics. And what we use that we really love here is the TAT, Thematic Apperception Test. That really gets beyond just the language or the structure of diagnosis, and really gives us a great insight into how a person perceives the world. This is a projective test. It’s like the roar shock. You show a picture and the person tells a story about the picture. And based on how they’re telling the story, you get a really, really in-depth view of how they view the world. That’s my favorite thing that we do here in the testing department because when we give those results to people, I mean, you’ll see their jaw drop or you’ll see people start crying. We’ve had so many people tell us, like, “I’ve never told anybody that before.” And that’s where I really love the TAT. It can kind of get around some of the person’s normal defenses.
We use, like I said, the MMPI and the MCMI, and those are really subject to, sometimes the person is trying to appear a certain way, which can distort the results a little bit. And you get a sense of that from the test. But sometimes at the end of the day, you can end up with an invalid test or you can end up with something where you can see that the person is clearly being defensive or trying to hide something, but you don’t necessarily know what. And the way we administer the TAT here really just peels those layers away and lets us really see the kind of person we’re dealing with and where they’re at.