Why We Test


It’s rare for someone to start treatment at CeDAR without any prior experience with either therapy or psychiatric care. This makes sense when you consider that we’ve designed CeDAR residential treatment for people who have already been struggling. These individuals have often sought out treatment at lower levels of care over the years, including standard outpatient support.

We find many people carry certain mental health diagnoses when they enter treatment. This includes such conditions as Bipolar Disorder, Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or certain personality disorders. Since people experience all different forms of outpatient care it’s important to use methodical psychiatric testing to validate or invalidate certain diagnoses.

Addiction Treatment Tests

What is testing in this way? It involves a CeDAR patient sitting down with our psychology team and can include certain computerized questions, written tasks or standardized puzzles. For instance, we use the Connors Continuous Performance Test (CPT 3) in our screening for ADHD. We use the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) in our screening for cognitive abilities and memory. We even conduct the Rorschach Inkblot test for psychological assessments. To learn more about this, please listen to our “Through the Trees” podcast episode featuring psychologist Dr. Harlan Austin, titled “Psychological Ink.”

Each test is highly valid at gathering information about certain conditions. We schedule the patient to undergo the tests and then give them feedback about the results. These results sometimes confirm that they have a condition such as ADHD. They may also suggest that the person was not accurately diagnosed with ADHD in prior treatment.

Identification vs. Results

One of the more fascinating situations in this psychiatric testing process occurs when patients seem to identify with the diagnosis, but when testing suggests that they don’t, in fact, have the condition the become frustrated. This is most apparent with ADHD. We appreciate that there can be secondary motives with an ADHD diagnosis, essentially involving desired prescriptions for stimulants.

We find that of those who report a prior diagnosis of ADHD, only 30-40% score a positive test through our ADHD screens. This means that most of those with the ADHD diagnosis don’t actually have it, according to the CPT-3. This discrepancy can be due to multiple factors including the presence of psychological trauma, secondary gain of the patient, or the large confounder of active substance abuse. We use these findings to help our clinical work to talk about addiction recovery, anxiety and other motives within a person.

Diagnosis Clarification

The CeDAR psychology team is now offering multiple forms of psychiatric testing to outpatient individuals as well. If you are interested in pursuing such testing, please contact CeDAR at 720-848-3000. Ask to be connected with either Dr. Rachel Kulas or Dr. Robyn Hacker. We are excited to offer this service to the public, as it has been so beneficial to people within the residential treatment program.

If you or a family member are receiving behavioral health treatment, and carry prior diagnoses that you would like clarified, we are happy to assist. We might use standardized screening instruments discussed above or explore other unique testing protocols. Historically, these tests have added considerable value to our clinical work at CeDAR. It’s helped to deepen the dialogue about treatment, clarify diagnoses, and effectively guide both patients and their clinicians. We are working to provide the most accurate diagnoses for the people we treat, as this leads to stable and effective health outcomes.

Read more CeDAR Education Articles about Mental Health & Addiction