11 Psychological Assessment in Child Mental Health Settings

Assessment Psychology


  1. Nancy Howells Wrobel PhD1,
  2. David Lachar PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop210011

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Wrobel, N. H. and Lachar, D. 2012. Psychological Assessment in Child Mental Health Settings. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 10:II:11.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Michigan—Dearborn, Behavioral Sciences Department, Dearborn, Michigan, USA

  2. 2

    The University of Texas—Houston, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Houston, Texas, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The unique characteristics of children and adolescents and the processes through which they come to the attention of mental health professionals make the considerable accumulated knowledge regarding the clinical evaluation of adults of little use when conducting the comparable evaluation of youth. This chapter suggests, following a considerable review of child assessment issues as well as the study of child psychopathology phenomena, that a core assessment procedure consisting of multidimensional inventories completed by multiple informants is a strategy that is sensitive to many of the unique characteristics and challenges of child mental health evaluation. These youth are not self-referred and therefore are not optimally motivated to participate in their evaluation. Children also vary in their capacity to contribute meaningfully to the assessment process because of their developmental status. Children are often referred by adults who observe them systematically at home or at school; these adults are therefore necessary contributors to the assessment process. In addition, because youth are primarily referred by adults, it is more likely that they often present with multiple dimensions of problem adjustment that generate adult concern. We describe in some detail four different published assessment systems that consist of multidimensional questionnaires completed by parent, teacher, and student. In addition, other useful single-informant measures for youth or their families with either broad or more focused application are described.


  • child problem behaviors;
  • differential diagnosis;
  • informant assessment;
  • inventory evaluation