I provide psychological assessments for children, adolescents, and adults. I am also an assessment supervisor for postdoctoral residents at Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Creek.
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?
Psychological testing refers to a battery of tests administered to evaluate the cognitive and/or emotional functioning of an individual. The test battery varies depending upon the referral question(s) and can include a structured interview, assessment of intellectual capability, academic achievement measures, neuropsychological measures, projective and objective personality measures, and standardized self-report, parent, and teacher rating scales.
Psychological testing can be extremely useful when there is lack of clarity or understanding regarding the reasons and causes of various emotional, psychological, learning, or behavioral problems of an individual. For example, if an individual is struggling in school, it could be due to a number of reasons including but not limited to:
a specific learning disability (dyslexia, dysgraphia)
deficits in visuospatial or fine motor skills
intellectual functioning (IQ)
auditory processing issues
verbal and visual memory issues
deficits in receptive and expressive language
cognitive processing difficulties
executive functioning/attention problems (ADHD, self-monitoring, problem solving)
Students in middle school and high school may experience difficulty adjusting to increasing academic demands, or the pressures associated with standardized testing and the preparations for college applications. For teens struggling with learning issues, psychological difficulties, or behavioral problems, it can mean the difference between progressing in treatment or remaining stuck in their current situation and unhealthy pattern of behavior. Psychological evaluations can provide disability documentation for those who can benefit from receiving reasonable accommodations while taking college level admission examinations (i.e., SAT). Useful Resources: College Board.
Psychological evaluations can also provide disability documentation for college and graduate level students who can benefit from receiving reasonable accommodations while taking graduate level admission examinations (i.e., GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc). A psychiatric disability (such as, but not limited to depressive, anxiety, and bipolar disorders) is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if a major life activity is substantially limited by such (i.e., school). Students can be impacted in the educational setting due to difficulty in focusing and maintaining concentration, completing work within a time frame, being able to consistently function from day to day, and drowsiness, headaches and other medication side-effects. Learn more here: ETS (Educational Testing Service),AAMC (guidelines for disability documentation for the Association of American Medical Colleges), and LDA – Learning Disabilities Association of America.
PERSONALITY TESTING WITH ADULTS
What is personality assessment for adults and why would I have this done? Broadly, personality assessment explores a person’s motivations, feelings, coping styles, and the underlying reasons for their behaviors. Personality testing can often help clients and clinicians better understand patterns of feelings and behaviors that seem puzzling or troubling and can identify helpful next steps. Adults seek personality assessments for many different reasons, which can include some very diagnostically focused questions such as:
determining whether someone has a clinical level of anxiety or depression
determining if there are features of a thought disturbance (psychosis) present
distinguishing whether someone’s difficulty focusing is due to ADHD or another reason (such as anxiety)
identifying and describing personality features and coping styles that are making it more difficult for someone to recover from their psychiatric issues, or making it more difficult for them to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships
Personality assessment is not just for making a diagnosis. For example, adults also seek personality assessments to:
understand themselves, their behaviors, and their feelings more thoroughly
identify reasons why they feel “stuck” in therapy or in life and find ways to move forward
make decisions about what treatment would be most appropriate, identify potential obstacles to successful treatment, and suggest ways to work around these obstacles
WHAT TO EXPECT
Psychological assessments typically involve multiple components. How much time is required to complete an assessment varies widely depending upon the clinical questions asked. For child/teen assessments, I routinely involve parents in the evaluation process and obtain collateral information from community providers (including teachers or therapists) whenever possible. Psychological testing involves a clinical interview, test administration, scoring and interpretation of tests, written report, and a final feedback session.
If you are wondering if an assessment is appropriate or are interested in obtaining assessment services from me, please contact me. We will begin with a free 15-minute initial phone consultation where we discuss the presenting problems and whether or not an assessment at this time would be appropriate. If an assessment is indicated and we agree to begin the testing process, I will schedule an initial interview to gather additional information to inform an assessment plan.
In the initial interview, I will meet with the client (if an adult) or the parents to gather thorough background and treatment history. We will discuss your concerns and questions you wish to have answered through the evaluation. Test administration is usually completed in 2-4 hour blocks of 1-3 sessions. This varies depending on the measures administered, the examinee’s ability to participate in a 2-4 hour session, and scheduling.
For children and adolescents, testing sessions are scheduled during the morning when most children function at their best. Also, if your child takes medication for ADHD, please discuss this with me prior to the testing appointment. I may ask that your child not take the medication on the morning of the testing.
Approximately two weeks after the last day of test administration, a feedback session is scheduled to review the test results and recommendations. A comprehensive written report that explains the findings and addresses the initial concerns and questions is provided during this feedback session that can be shared with others (e.g., schools, therapists, primary care provider, psychiatrist).
Keep in mind that psychological testing is not like taking a multiple-choice exam that you either pass or fail. It's not something you need to study for. Rather, it's an opportunity for me to determine the best way to help you or your child.
HOW MUCH WILL TESTING COST?
The total fee varies depending upon the nature of the evaluation services needed to meet each client’s specific needs. The cost for assessment includes the clinical interview, gathering collateral information when needed, reviewing relevant records, test administration, scoring, interpretation, report writing, and final feedback session. I will be able to provide a closer estimate of charges after talking with you by phone about your specific needs and what you hope to learn from the assessment.
A partial payment of half of the estimated fee for the evaluation is required at the first testing session (initial intake), with the remaining balance due at the feedback session. Payments are accepted in the form of cash or check.
WHAT SHOULD I TELL MY CHILD ABOUT THE APPOINTMENT?
Days before the testing: Try to avoid calling it “testing,” as this word makes many children anxious. Make sure your child knows they will be meeting alone with the psychologist, but that a parent will be nearby. Explain that children learn in different ways and that the assessment will help parents and teachers understand how he/she learns best.
The day of testing: Make sure your child is well rested and has eaten a good breakfast. To avoid fatigue, breaks will be taken during the testing to allow your child to use the restroom and have a drink or snack. Children also often like to talk with their parent(s) during the breaks. The day will include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories as well as some school-like tasks like reading and math. For children under 9, we require parents to remain in the waiting area for the duration of the testing. It is at your discretion to remain or run errands if your child is over 9, but please make sure that I have a number at which you can be reached immediately in case of illness or other difficulty.
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