For many individuals, psychological assessment or evaluation is the best first step in understanding and improving oneself. It provides an in-depth view of one’s issues and offers specific recommendations in overcoming emotional distress and improving in a variety of environments like school, home, social, work, etc.The psychologists at Just A Journey have a great interest and skill in assessing issues that may underlie psychological symptoms and difficulties. They pride themselves on considering all areas of functioning, including physical health symptoms that may mimic mental health disorders.
What is a psychological evaluation?
A psychological evaluation includes interviews and the administration, scoring and interpretation of tests to evaluate an individual’s intellectual/cognitive, learning/academic, social, adaptive, emotional and/or behavioral functioning. Though typically conducted with children and adolescents, there are many psychological evaluations that can be conducted with adults. Individuals can be self-referred for an evaluation, or more typically, can be referred by a parent, medical professional, or school official.
An evaluation battery varies depending upon the referral question(s), and may include structured and collateral interviews, IQ and/or achievement test(s), measures of attention and behavioral functioning, projective tests, self-report measures, parent and teacher checklists, and behavioral observations. One or two testing sessions may be required depending on a child’s age and number of tests/measures given.
Some insurance companies may cover costs for psychological evaluation, but may require a pre-certification session. Costs for the evaluation include the administration, scoring and interpretation of tests, and a prepared report. If required by your insurance company, your psychologist can answer any questions that you may have or provide specific names of tests that will be administered.
If you do not have this form of mental health coverage or opt to pay out of pocket, the cost for a full assessment is determined by the total number of test units required based on the referral question(s). The psychologist can provide an estimate based on a brief phone interview or a more precise quote following a scheduled in-office intake session ($150 if not billed to insurance). Notably, the information from the intake session will be vital and useful for the actual evaluation and specific next-step recommendations too. All payments can be made by cash, Visa or Mastercard, Health Savings Account (HSA), or check.
How should I prepare for the psychological evaluation?
Prior to the evaluation, please complete the age-appropriate history form and the informed consent form. Bring both in on your first appointment. Any academic, legal, or occupational documentation, past psychological or psychoeducational reports, or work-samples that you would like the doctor to review or include in the final report, also bring those into the first appointment. For extensive document review, there may be an added fee; this is determined by the evaluating psychologist.
The following tips will help prepare your child:
Before the day of testing, inform the child of what the day will be like. Avoid calling the evaluation “testing” or “a doctor’s appointment,” as this may create anxiety and limited cooperation.
Make sure your child knows they will be meeting alone with the psychologist to better understand how they learn, why they have experienced difficulties, to improve their behavior, etc. Inform your child that the evaluation may include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories, as well as some school-like tests like reading and math. While they will be challenged, he or she will also likely have fun with some of these tests.
On the day of the evaluation, be sure your child is well rested and has eaten a good breakfast or lunch.
If your child is participating in an extensive evaluation (e.g., over 2 hours), be sure to bring a drink and snack, as he or she will be allowed breaks to avoid fatigue, use the bathroom, and/or quickly chat with their parent(s). NOTE: for children under age 12, we require parents remain in our lobby for the duration of the testing. Otherwise, it is at your discretion to remain or run errands, but please make sure that the office has your cell number so that you can be reached in case of emergency.
What happens after the testing?
The evaluating psychologist takes focused time to score, interpret, and write a report of the testing results and recommendations. About 3 – 4 weeks after the final testing date, you will return to the office for a feedback session and discussion. For child evaluation, younger children are discouraged from attending this session; though older children may accompany their parent(s). This appointment typically lasts 30-45 minutes, during which time the psychologist will review the testing results, discuss recommendations, and answer any questions you may have. Afterward, the report is yours to keep and may be used at your discretion. With informed consent, copies can be sent to school, medical professionals, etc.