Assessments - Learning About Your Unique Mind
I work with each client/family to first get a holistic sense of what is going on and what is needed; then, I work with you to administer a comprehensive assessment that will address your unique needs.
is assessment right for me?
Individuals and families often feel confused when trying to ascertain if an assessment is the right fit for their situation. The following list of considerations is designed to help educate you as to what behaviors signal a psychological assessment is indicated.
Hyperactivity and impulsivity: a child or adolescent who can’t stay seated at school, blurts out answers, interrupt others, fidgets, or can’t settle down; in older teens and adults, this can look like reckless driving, shoplifting, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and self injury such as cutting.
Inattention: daydreaming, doodling, easily distracted, often late, keeping messy personal spaces, forgetfulness, making mistakes that appear careless, and needing directions repeated several times.
Inconsistency is often another indicator that assessment is appropriate. For example, you have known your child to have a strong memory and to understand nuances easily, but at the same time, your child is underperforming in school. Or, for a second example, you have been social your entire life but suddenly find yourself disinterested in talking to friends and going out.
Rapid shifts in mood or behavior likely warrant assessment. Depression, for example, can come on quickly and an individual who has been happy and engaged can quickly become sullen or irritable. Tantrums, bedwetting, nightmares, extreme agitation, or physical complaints like headaches or stomachaches, which come out of the blue and have no other apparent explanation, can suggest trauma.
Narrow interests that an individual fixates on can suggest autism spectrum disorder, high IQ, and/or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Alarming behavior includes self injury, running away from home, repeated truancy, fire setting, vandalism, rages in which physical property is destroyed or someone is hurt, torturing animals or humans, risky sexual behavior such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, substance use that seems out of control, hearing voices or seeing things, and any indications of suicide. These all are incredibly worrisome and warrant prompt attention.
Sensory indicators can include an individual who is bothered by clothing tags or certain fabrics, hijacked or easily startled by certain noises, distressed in crowded places, or someone who rocks back-and-forth, sways side to side, or flaps their arms repeatedly. Autism spectrum disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and even high IQ can manifest in the body.
Be aware of the impact of society’s perceptions. It is not unusual for parents with boys to hear their son is the class clown or requires more discipline. On the other hand, parents of girls often hear their daughter is lazy or needs to try harder. Our world tends to see ADHD as primarily a disorder characterized by hyperactivity, rather than inattention, which often skews how we come to suspect ADHD in youth - especially girls.
The same is true for disordered eating. Society represents disordered eating and eating disorders as mental illnesses only affecting girls and women; however, boys and men can also struggle with disordered eating and eating disorders.
When we think of depression as sadness and withdrawal, we can overlook boys and men who are suffering from depression which presents more as irritability.
Trust your gut instinct. If you suspect something is going on, you are likely right. Early intervention is absolutely critical.
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Psychological assessment is indicated in several situations.
Families often request an evaluation of their child/adolescent such that they are empowered to request accommodations for their child/adolescent at school.
When it comes to medication, a psychological assessment may be requested by a client or psychiatrist to inform the decisions made around the prescription of medication and/or the evaluation of current medication on symptoms and daily functioning.
Psychological assessment can also be helpful in acute situations such as is often the case following trauma or a recent hospitalization.
These are not the only situations in which assessment is appropriate, but these are some examples.
WHAT DOES ASSESSMENT INCLUDE?
Psychological assessment can include measures of:
mental illness (such as depression, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, and personality disorders),
Some examples of commonly administered measures include:
SCID (mental illness),
Conners 3 (ADHD),
Wisconsin card sorting task (executive function),
and comprehensive batteries designed to assess trauma including risk and protective factors.