What is a Psychological Evaluation?
Psychological Evaluations are conducted to provide further information about a child or adolescent’s learning style, the presence of learning disabilities, developmental concerns, or their behavioral and mental health. Evaluations are like a “psychological x-ray,” as they give us insights into the way your child best learns, what they think and feel, and how they are coping with the stresses in their lives. Each evaluation is individualized based on the specific needs of the child and questions you and involved professionals wish to have answered. We will discuss the specifics of your child’s evaluation during our initial appointment.
- All evaluations will include:
Initial Intake Session: This session is typically 1.5-2 hours long. During this session we will obtain information about your current concerns, family history, and your child’s developmental and school history. We will give you feedback regarding the type of evaluation that we think will be most useful, as well as set a fee for the evaluation. If it is determined that an evaluation is not necessary you will simply pay our hourly fee for this session.
- Testing Sessions: The number and length of these sessions will vary depending on the type of evaluation being conducted and your child’s age and attention span.
- Review of School Records/Previous Evaluations: You will be asked to obtain a copy of your child’s school records and any previous evaluations for us to review so that we have a thorough understanding of your child’s educational history.
- Parent and Teacher Assessment Forms: Both you and your child’s teacher(s) will be asked to respond to questions that will provide information regarding your child’s day to day functioning and areas of concern.
- Consultations with other professionals: Often it will be necessary to consult with your child’s teacher(s), other school personnel, a treating psychotherapist, and/or your pediatrician. We will discuss this with you and obtain a written release prior to contacting outside professionals.
- Feedback Session: This session occurs at the end of the evaluation process. At this time we will discuss the findings and give you a written report. This report will summarize the findings of the evaluation as well as provide specific recommendations for treatment and educational modifications.
All evaluations are tailored to meet the individual needs of the child and family.
When is a Psychological Evaluation helpful?
Understand the Child: Psychological evaluations are one of the quickest ways to gain insight into a child’s struggles, whether they are academic, social, or emotional in nature. This insight can be used to develop appropriate educational and therapeutic recommendations.
Identify the Need for Educational Accommodations: The combination of assessment techniques used in an evaluation provides a wealth of knowledge about an individual child’s style of learning, how s/he processes information, and what may be getting in the way of academic performance. With this understanding, appropriate educational modifications can be put into place. Psychological evaluations provide the information necessary to determine if your child qualifies for special education services, or accommodations for College Board testing (PSAT, SAT, AP Exams).
Clarify Barriers to Social and Emotional Health: Psychological evaluations examine a child’s social, emotional and behavioral functioning in light of his/her expected development milestones. Using this information, a child and his family can develop effective strategies for managing stress, understanding social relationships, controlling impulses and paying attention, among other key skills.
Build on the Child’s Strengths: A psychological evaluation will provide a clear picture of a child’s strengths, and will help parents, educators, and others understand how they can use these strengths to help a child work on areas of weakness.
Parents or other involved professionals typically seek out psychological evaluations when:
- They are concerned about a learning disability, such as dyslexia.
- A child is failing to make expected academic gains, or is struggling to keep up.
- A child’s behavior is interfering with learning or classroom activities.
- A child struggles to make and keep age-appropriate friendships.
- A teacher is concerned about a child’s with attention, concentration or activity level.
- Parents are concerned about a child’s readiness for school, or have questions about school placement.
- A child appears to be struggling emotionally and it is difficult to discern the cause of his/her feelings of distress.
- Treating professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers or other psychotherapists are looking for clarification of diagnosis.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Evaluations
Contrary to popular belief, there is no single “test” for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A reliable ADHD diagnosis cannot be made using a simple checklist. Many disorders may manifest in behavioral symptoms similar to those of ADHD, and the possibility of an incorrect diagnosis is high when a thorough evaluation is not done.
- An ADHD Evaluation includes the following components:
- A thorough interview with the parents and/or caregivers.
- A classroom observation for preschool and elementary school-aged children.
- An interview or play therapy session with the child.
- Standardized rating scales filled out by the parents and teachers.
- A telephone interview with the child’s teacher(s).
- A thorough review of school records and any previous evaluations.
- Consultation with the child’s pediatrician.
- Attendance at school meetings, including PPT meetings, as requested by the parents.
Further testing may be recommended if there is a concern about the child’s academic or emotional functioning.
For further information please call Dr. Laurie Stevens Dray at (203) 779-5490, or email her at email@example.com