Questions and Answers

Healthy Minds Psychology Associates  //  Questions and Answers

The decision to seek psychological care is an important one. When faced with learning or behavior challenges in children, some parents choose to ‘wait it out’ and hope the concerns will abate with time, while others attempt to address issues on their own through behavior management strategies and/or tutoring. Parents frequently call into our office seeking some form of help for their child but are often uncertain as to where to start. We have prepared the following guide to help you determine if psychological testing or counseling is best for your child’s specific needs.

Testing and Evaluation Services

What do you mean by psychological and psychoeducational testing?


Psychological testing and psychoeducational testing (may also be referred to as “psychological assessment” or “psychological evaluation”) both use a combination of techniques to help arrive at some hypothesis about one’s learning, behavior, emotional health, personality and mental status. Testing is individualized and typically consists of a series of formal psychological or neuropsychological tests as well as clinical interviews and rating scales designed to identify and describe the emotional, behavioral or learning problems that may be contributing to presenting problems. Testing provides information on how one learns, identifies areas of strength and areas that might need support, makes diagnoses or rules out certain conditions, and helps to guide recommendations for treatment, accommodations, or other interventions.




Should I start with counseling before initiating psychological testing?


Counseling may be recommended when there is a previous diagnosis or current stressor (e.g., grief/loss, divorce) and the challenges being faced are a reasonable manifestation of diagnosed conditions or life circumstances. You will meet with a therapist on a weekly or biweekly basis to work through specific issues that have already identified. However, testing is recommended when there are a number of concerns going on, perhaps there is no previous diagnosis, and clarifying diagnoses is needed in order to determine what treatment is needed. The psychologist will use information obtained from the psychological evaluation to help inform the therapy process, medication treatment, school accommodations, or suggest other resources.




Do I need a psychological evaluation or a psychoeducational one?


Determining which type of evaluation you will need depends largely on your reasons for seeking testing. We use many of the same objective test measures and subjective techniques for both psychological and psychoeducational evaluations, including assessment of IQ, cognitive processing (attention, memory, executive functioning, language, etc.) and emotional-behavioral functioning. However, psychological evaluations are intended to help with diagnostic clarity and treatment planning of problems of medical necessity, and typically yield diagnoses like ADHD, depression, or anxiety. The purpose of a psychoeducational evaluation is to inform the educational planning process through the development of school-based accommodations and supports from an educational standpoint. Unlike psychological evaluations, psychoeducational evaluations include comprehensive assessment of achievement in reading, writing, and math and provides sufficient data to fully assess and diagnose learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia) in addition to those of a medical nature. Psycho-educational testing is often required to document disabilities requiring accommodations in school, college, or for standardized testing.




It was recommended that I seek treatment (e.g., evaluation, counseling) but I am not sure if it’s really necessary.


There are several factors to consider when deciding if you should move forward with counseling or an evaluation, including length of time you have been dealing with the problem, effectiveness of strategies already tried, levels of subjective distress, the severity of your symptoms, and the impact of symptoms on functioning at home, work, school, or in your relationships. While it is sometimes easy to recognize learning problems, severe behaviors, or dissatisfaction with life, it is also common to have difficulty distinguishing between normal behaviors and those that require professional intervention. It may be helpful to ask yourself… How [am I / are we] doing right now? Am I living the life I ultimately desire to live? Have the things I have already tried worked? What’s the risk I am taking by doing nothing? If you are feeling dissatisfied with life or relationships, have experienced little relief from your symptoms, feel problems have worsened over time, or constantly made aware of chronic problems in learning, behavior, and/or attention by others (e.g., teachers), it is best to consult with one of our clinicians. Through consultation, we can guide you in making the best decision for you and your family.




Who will be conducting the testing?


Psychological testing is performed by highly trained and experienced Licensed Psychologists and psychological technicians. Psychologists at Healthy Minds have a combined two decades of experience in the assessment of various presenting issues and appreciate the nuance often involved in assessing and diagnosing co-occurring disorders. In addition to private practice, our Psychologists have continued to develop their clinical interests through specialized trainings (e.g., autism), adjunct teaching, speaking engagements, clinical presentations/workshops, and through supervision/training of pre-doctoral students. We are fortunate in that our psychological technicians have worked with Healthy Minds for several years and have been personally trained and supervised by one or more of our Licensed Psychologists. All examiners are skilled in creating an optimal assessment environment, wherein we get to know the child/adult being evaluated, acclimate them to the testing, and provide ample breaks to ensure that they feel comfortable and able to work at their needed pace. Our commitment to getting the best results and creating a good testing experience is why our practice is highly preferred and trusted among many pediatricians, public and private schools, and by parents who recommend their friends.




What types of tests are administered?


The test battery varies depending upon the referral question(s), and can include a structured interview and brief assessment of intellectual capability for shorter evaluations to more comprehensive assessment of IQ, learning/processing measures, measures of attention and memory, academic achievement, self-report ratings, parent and teacher ratings, and in-office observation. Our team of psychologists specialize in providing comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational testing to diagnose, assess, and develop treatment recommendations for such conditions as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD), developmental disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome), dyslexia/learning disabilities, social pragmatic disorder, and mood/ emotional disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.). We carefully customize our test battery based on how you ultimately plan to use evaluation results. For example, if you are an adult making careless mistakes at work and want to know if you have an attention disorder, this assessment can be accomplished through a detailed history, clinical interviewing, behavioral ratings, and formal testing in cognitive processes. However, if you would like to obtain accommodations for school or college board exams (SAT/GRE), you will also need achievement testing. We never recommend any more testing than you need. We also have relationships with several independent/ private schools and provide evaluations and recommendations that are thorough and highly personalized in order to inform decisions related to admissions, school accommodations, or for determining if the school is a good fit. Our Psychologists are also approved by several local districts to provide Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE).




Do I have to bring my child to the evaluation and stay with him/her the entire time?


Parents are not required to personally bring their children to the evaluation appointment or to stay for the duration of the evaluation. We will give you an estimated ending time for the evaluation and you are free to go to work or run errands until that time. There are some situations in which we do ask parents to stick around. These are situations in which a child has significant behavioral challenges that may interfere with completion of the full test battery or those with health concerns.




How do I explain to my child why they are being tested?


Although psychological testing can sound daunting, most children (and adults) get through it just fine. It is not uncommon to enter into this process feeling a little anxious. Our experienced examiners always take great care to make sure your child is comfortable through building rapport, offering encouragement, and praise for good effort. We are also flexible during administration as some kids need more breaks, time for snacks, or a walk outside. Reassure your child that there is no passing or failing with this testing. Explain that these tests will help us understand how they learn so we can best help them in school. They will be answering questions, drawing, solving puzzles, and some things will feel like a game. The tests are not painful and they can ask for a break when needed. Encourage your child to simply put forth their best effort.




Should I have my child tested by the school?


Independent evaluations can be costly and may not be fully covered by insurance. Fortunately, parents can pursue psychological testing through their local school system at no cost. However, there are some factors to consider when deciding between school testing and an independent psychological evaluation. First, school evaluations vary in the breadth and depth of assessment, only speak to eligibility for special education and do not diagnose learning or behavior disorders, and tend to take longer to complete than an independent evaluation. Our psychologists are happy to provide you with more information for determining if a school-based evaluation is best for you as well as a sample letter for requesting such an evaluation. If you decide on an independent evaluation, our test battery and psychological report is acceptable under IDEA guidelines for evaluating individuals with special needs, although eligibility for special education services is determined by the school’s IEP/ Eligibility Team.




When will I receive the results of my evaluation?


Evaluation results are communicated in two ways: a detailed and understandable written report and in-person parent feedback meeting. We try our very best to conduct feedback meetings within two to three weeks of the last evaluation session, provided that we have all rating forms returned. Feedback meetings range from one to two hours, depending on the amount of testing involved. While the Psychologist is often able to score data, conceptualize test results and make recommendations within a week or two, the written report usually takes three or more weeks to prepare. Parents have the option of scheduling the feedback session when the full report is completed or meeting sooner. During the latter feedback meeting option, parents will receive a graph of scores, diagnoses, and full list of recommendations and accommodations. More about our feedbacks: Our Psychologists are proud and humbled by the consistently positive feedback we receive on our written reports. Our reports thoroughly explain not only the scores obtained but the process of achieving those scores. We take great care to identify strengths and recommend ways to capitalize on those strengths. We examine the pattern of strengths and weaknesses that emerges across several tests in order understand underlying factors that contribute to learning, emotional or behavioral issues. Most importantly, we provide several specific and individual accommodations as well as other treatments and interventions that can be used to successfully address difficulties both in and outside of school. We also routinely communicate with learning specialists in schools to review evaluation results and help to plan for success in a collaborative manner.




How do I prepare for the feedback meeting?


Evaluations, and their results, often bring about feelings of anxiety and relief. It is understandable that, after years of academic, mood, or behavioral struggles, constantly suspecting that something “is off,” or longstanding feelings of frustration, worry, and helplessness, you might have mixed feelings. The psychological and psychoeducational report offers detailed information on your strengths, weaknesses, learning style, and development. While intimidating at times, these results can also be validating, particularly when they support the idea that you are smart, capable, and not lazy or intentional in your behavioral challenges. In fact, there are often real neurological underpinnings affecting your ability to perform successfully at school, work, or in your relationships. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and to need time to digest everything that you are hearing. Don’t worry, we are always here to answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to provide you with a deep understanding of your needs or those of your child, to help you feel confident in your ability to advocate for these needs, and pave the way for new interventions, treatment approaches not yet tried, and hopefully relief from symptoms that you have carried so long.





What is Therapy?


Therapy, also referred to as psychotherapy or counseling, is the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, feelings, thought processes, communication patterns, and relationship issues. Therapy can be done with individuals or within the context of a couples or family relationship. The relationship with your therapist is confidential, supportive, and collaborative. You will work with your therapist to establish goals for your sessions and determine the steps you will need to take in order to reach those goals. Through the therapeutic progress, you can begin to change unhelpful behaviors and habits, resolve painful feelings or trauma, manage emotions more effectively, and improve your relationships.




How long will I be in therapy?


The length of therapy can vary depending on your functioning, specific needs and individual circumstances. Some people initiate therapy due to a specific issue, and a short term, solution-focused therapy approach may be appropriate. Short-term therapy can last anywhere from six to eight sessions. However, some individuals enter therapy with concerns that are more significant, deep rooted, and require a longer time to explore and resolve. In these cases, therapy might last for a few months to several years.




What can I expect from the first therapy session?


Each therapist differs in their approach to the first session. Typically, your therapist will go over the confidential nature of the sessions and then spend some time getting to know you and the reasons that led you to therapy. In order to better understand you, the therapist may ask lots of questions about your childhood or family of origin, home life, relationships, psychological/medical history, current struggles, and your goals for treatment. It is common to feel somewhat nervous or even skeptical about therapy. However, as you begin to build a strong therapeutic relationship with your therapist, the process should feel safe, reassuring and non-judgmental. You should also use the first session to determine whether or not the therapist is ultimately a good fit for you.




What if I am not comfortable with the therapist recommended for me?


The relationship between you and your therapist can be a major factor in your ultimate success and growth during the therapeutic process. While it is often difficult to disclose personal information to others this may be even more difficult to do when you don’t feel comfortable or connected with your therapist. The good news is, you don’t have to like your therapist. The more comfortable you are the more effective therapy will be. If you find that you are uncomfortable with your therapist or their approach, one option is to simply tell him or her directly at the end of the session. If this would feel too awkward, you can inform our administrative staff that you don’t feel like it’s a good fit and we will explore your concerns and do our very best to refer you to a therapist who might be a better fit.





Counseling

Need assistance or can't find what you're looking for?
Quick Links
About
We strive to provide you with a superior experience here at Healthy Minds and this means selecting well-trained clinicians and ensuring the highest quality service to our patients. Our patient-centered approach is critical to our success and we pride ourselves on excellence in every form. 
Read More >
Subscribe for Updates
Contact

Healthy Minds Psychology Associates

Email:  Info@hmpsychology.com

Phone: 770-375-8124

Fax: 770-559-5543

Healthy Minds Psychology Associates (c) All Rights Reserved 2018.  Proudly created with John Adams Web Design

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon