Depending on the presenting issues of you, your child, or your family, different assessment approaches may be recommended, but likely will fall into one of three categories: developmental assessment, diagnostic assessment, and psychoeducational assessment. Assessment can uncover information not known at the outset, so while we will aim to stay within the parameters below, it may sometimes be necessary to include additional testing or information gathering to reach a conclusion.
Following is a brief discussion of each of these assessment:
- Developmental Assessment is a type of evaluation in which the child’s developmental skills are assessed across multiple areas, such as their emotional development, cognitive development, and language development. Multiple types of information are gathered such as rating forms, interviews, observations and performance on tests. Developmental assessments are typically done to assess for developmental delays, school readiness, etc, and are most often done in young kiddos (0-6).
- Psychological/ Diagnostic Assessment is a type of evaluation in which the child is assessed to determine if they meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Presenting concerns and information are gathered from the caregivers, teachers, child, and others. Multiple types of information are gathered such as rating forms, interviews, observations and performance on tests. Diagnostic assessments are often necessary to ensure that the scope of concerns is understood and an appropriate treatment plan is created. Sometimes diagnostic assessments are needed in order to help advocate for accommodations for a child (for example, access to support in a school or other setting). It is important to note that while it is common for IQ and achievement test screening to be conducted to rule out explanations, full IQ and achievement testing are not routinely included. If it is determined by the Psychologist that this is necessary, this will be discussed with you and an additional cost is likely. Diagnostic assessments are not typically done in young children, and become more common in elementary-aged children and beyond.
- Psychoeducational assessment is a type of evaluation in which several underlying mental processes are evaluated to assess the impact that it is having on a child’s functioning. Much like the above-described diagnostic assessment, presenting concerns and information are gathered from the caregivers, teachers, child, and others. Multiple types of information are gathered such as rating forms, interviews, observations and performance on tests. Additionally, it is likely that a full intelligence battery and academic achievement (learning) batter are administered to assess a child’s performance and determine if there is a learning disability or concern present. Psychoeducational assessments are most common in elementary-aged children and beyond.
Additionally, depending on why you are seeking treatment for your child and your family, different treatment approaches may be recommended, but likely will fall into one of a few categories: consultation, parent training, behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy.
Following is a brief discussion of each of these services and treatment approaches:
- Consultation is when caregivers work with the Psychologist for a time-limited period (usually one- to two-sessions) in order to gain more information about a disorder, get an additional opinion on treatment or assessment services, or for advice on how to advocate for their child (for example for obtaining an Individualized Education Plan). Consultation by its nature is more focused on imparting information, rather than establishing a therapeutic relationship. After a consultation session(s), should you want to enter into a course of therapy or establish a therapeutic relationship with the Psychologist, then a discussion between the client and Psychologist will take place. If treatment cannot be provided by the Psychologist, then referrals will be provided.
- Parent training typically involves teaching parents about social learning theory, antecedents, behaviors and consequences, and how behavior patterns can be learned or develop in children (and in families). The purpose of parent training is to impart information, but also to teach strategies for how to effectively change those patterns within the family. Examples of skills taught include positive attending, planned ignoring, and setting limits (among others). Parent training can be delivered with just the parents, with the parents and child, or among a group of parents (i.e., group treatment). We will work with you to decide the best course of treatment delivery.
- Behavioral therapy is a form of treatment that typically involves teaching new skills directly to the child, and uses strategies such as positive reinforcement, to strengthen the child’s use of these strategies. This can be delivered individually or in a group setting. For many issues, having the opportunity to practice is a key part of treatment, so a group setting is the preferred treatment setting (for example, a social skills group will offer the child the opportunity to practice social skills with other children). We will work with you to decide the best course of treatment delivery.
- Cognitive Behavior therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that typically involves teaching new skills (like behavior therapy), but also includes teaching coping strategies or new and different ways to think about a problems. CBT can be delivered individually or in a group setting. CBT usually has a practice component, and kids will be encouraged to do homework outside of session. Parents and caregivers will often be a part of treatment to help their child practice their newly learned skills. We will work with you to decide the best course of treatment delivery.
I expect us to work together in determining the needs of your child and your family, and together we will set goals and work toward meeting those goals. Because children and families are all different and experience improvement at different rates, it is difficult to determine a typical length of treatment. However, it is my experience that treatment can last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. We will continue to assess progress toward goals and ongoing relevance of these goals, and determine how long therapy needs to last. Typically when we determine that treatment is nearly complete, we will conduct 2-3 sessions to provide the child with a positive end to therapy. You have the right to seek a second opinion from another therapist or terminate therapy at any time.