- slow or inaccurate reading, and/or poor reading comprehension.
A Psychological Evaluation is a way to quickly determine the nature and extent of emotional issues and concerns, help clarify diagnoses, determine abilities and limitations, and make decisions about coping abilities. A thorough psychological evaluation can also provide information needed to help develop an effective therapeutic treatment program or intervention plan, or determine appropriateness for certain programs.
Diagnostic Clarification Evaluations
A psychological evaluation may be required by a therapist or psychiatrist to help clarify a diagnosis as many psychological conditions have overlapping symptoms or may mimic each other, and may be complicated by life circumstances or experiences.
A psychological evaluation can help determine the exact nature of a psychological condition so that an effective treatment plan or intervention can be implemented. This will help ensure a successful therapy outcome or the most effective medication management of symptoms.
Areas of evaluation include the following:
- Behavioral Problems
- Social Problems
- Emotional Problems (Depression, Anxiety, Social Anxiety, etc.)
- Parent-Child Relational Problems
- Psychological Factors Associated with Medical Conditions
Insurance companies usually require a psychological evaluation prior to some surgeries to help determine emotional readiness. These surgeries are expensive, and research has shown that their success or failure rate depends heavily on psychological factors. To help with the best possible outcome of the surgery, it helps to identify any psychological barriers to success. The results of the presurgical evaluation can help determine if psychotherapy or a psychiatric consultation for medication is needed prior to having surgery, including but not limited to:
- Pain Management Procedures (e.g., Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation, Spinal Fusion, Catheter Implantation)
- Bariatric Surgery
- Surrogate Parent Screening
- Cosmetic Surgery
Mental Health Requirement Evaluations
Diagnostic evaluations to help determine mental health appropriateness or requirements for a variety of government programs, such as the following:
- Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver
- SSI Applications
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Diagnostic evaluations conducted when an immigrant is seeking a waiver for citizenship for mental health reasons (e.g., PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Parental Issues, Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Impairments), as well as in cases of political asylum, extreme hardship, or spousal abuse cases when psychological factors may be significant.
A psychoeducational evaluation is the process of using a combination of different tests, interviews, observations, and background information to help determine an individual’s preferred learning style, learning potential, and strengths and weaknesses. It is helpful when a student is struggling academically to help determine the nature of their difficulty in such areas as reading, writing, arithmetic, memory, attention, organization, time management, executive functions, processing speed, or learning new information. The evaluation is tailored to address the individual student’s learning challenges by uncovering the barriers to achieving their academic potential.
Specific Learning Disabilities
Difficulty learning and using acquired academic skills that negatively impact academic or work performance, specifically regarding:
Learning challenges and behavioral/emotional issues can be complex, and have many components that may impact the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Information about how a student learns, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, will guide the development of the best treatment and intervention strategies.
The results from psychoeducational testing can help save time by avoiding ineffective interventions and costly tutoring programs, and help develop – when and where appropriate, and as allowed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – recommendations about teaching approaches, remediation, accommodations, interventions, and compensatory techniques to increase a student’s ability to achieve to their potential.
Psychoeducational evaluations are frequently required for school interventions or accommodations at all school levels, including college, graduate school, law school, and medical school. The Georgia Board of Regents requires a psychoeducational evaluation must have been conducted within 3 years for college students to receive additional time for tests, tutoring, and other accommodations needed to optimize learning when a learning disability has been diagnosed. A psychoeducational evaluation may also be required for accommodations on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, and AP exams.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder / Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD) –
ADHD/ ADD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with learning and academic performance up to ability. ADHD should not be diagnosed with a simple behavior checklist or only an interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist, as ADHD/ADD can mimic other conditions such as mood or behavioral disorders. More than 80% of individuals with ADHD/ADD have at least one other diagnosis. Also in girls and women ADHD/ADD frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated as the symptom presentation may be different. Additionally, other learning disabilities such as reading, math,
or auditory processing problems, co-occur in up to 40% of individuals with ADHD/ADD. Therefore, a cognitive assessment and an achievement assessment should be included in a comprehensive ADHD/ADD evaluation.
A comprehensive evaluation will help determine if a person really has ADHD/ADD, to what degree, and identify the areas of functioning that are affected. It is important to determine the exact nature of the condition so that the most effective interventions, accommodations, or modifications can be implemented.
Psychoeducational evaluations may be used for adults in the workplace to support work place accommodations consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with learning disabilities, such as ADHD/ADD.
Gifted Programs Eligibility
Evaluations conducted to determine eligibility for participation in gifted programs require the administration of nationally normed tests and measures with results within the required performance standards. Eligibility for participation in gifted programs generally require an assessment of several areas including cognitive or mental ability, achievement, creativity and motivation, current within two years.
Processing Speed Deficits
Processing speed is the time it takes for individuals to take in information, understand it and respond using it. A slow processing speed impacts learning but is not considered a formal learning disability. It does play a part in other formal learning disabilities, such as disabilities of reading, math and writing, ADHD/ADD. An assessment of processing speed is included in all psychoeducational evaluations conducted by SBS Psychological Associates.
The Evaluation Process
Before the Testing Session
- If a child if being evaluated, prepare them by letting them know what to expect on the day of testing.
- Avoid the term testing, as it may cause unnecessary nervousness. Just explain that the child will be doing tasks to help their parents, doctors and/or teachers understand how to best help them.
- Let the child know that they will be meeting with the person conducting the testing alone.
- The testing process involves a variety of tasks, including drawings, puzzles, building with blocks, questions, and reading and math. Some of the tasks may be challenging, but most will be fun.
The day of the testing
- Make sure the person being tested gets good nights rest and eats a good breakfast.
- If medication is prescribed for ADHD, you will be notified prior to the testing session whether to take the medication on the day of testing.
- Depending on the type of testing, the age of the person being tested, and the referral question, the testing process will vary and may take anywhere between 2-8 hours to complete.
- Test sessions begin in the morning and, when possible, will be completed in one day. In some circumstances, testing may require two days to assure optimal functioning and performance.
- During the testing session breaks may be taken for restroom or snacks as needed to avoid fatigue.
- Plan to arrive early to become familiar with the space and examiner.
- For children 9 and younger being tested, parents are required to stay on the premise for the duration of testing.
- For children over 9, parents may leave as long as they provide a number where they can be immediately reached in case of emergency.
After the testing
- Test results will be scored, interpreted, and integrated into a report within 2-3 weeks.
- A feedback session to review the testing results, discuss recommendations, and get answers and concerns addressed, is held.
- After a child is tested, parents are asked to come to the feedback session alone.
- A separate feedback session can be scheduled for older children as they may benefit from understanding their strengths and limitations, if parents desire.
- A written report will be provided during the feedback session.
- The report is a comprehensive write up of the testing results, and specific recommendations tailored to individual needs and include accommodations when appropriate.
- Recommendations are designed to help parents, teachers, doctors, and others develop a plan of treatment, intervention, accommodations, or modifications.
- If there is a desire for the report to be shared directly with other professionals, a signed release of information will be required.