The best way to determine if your child “needs” more specialized help is to ask yourself whether you need more information to help your child. Are there issues that are interfering with his/ her ability to do well in school, get along with peers, or get along with you or other family members? Is your child struggling at school and no one seems to know why? Is there a family history of learning issues, or anxiety issues for example, and you see some of the same things with your child? Do you suspect your child may show signs of autism or dyslexia? There are lots of different questions that parents have. If there are factors that are interfering with your child’s ability to learn, behave, or feel good about themselves, it may be helpful make an appointment with us.
Just to note, we do not prescribe medication. Only a medical doctor, such as a pediatrician or a psychiatrist, can prescribe medication. However, a psychologist or social worker may work in collaboration with a doctor, provide that doctor information, and help a child or parents learn more about different medications.
A complete evaluation will provide feedback regarding the client’s level of intelligence, learning strengths and weaknesses and academic achievement levels, processing skills, and (as applicable to the referral question) level of attention/focus skills, behavioral and emotional functioning, and social functioning. The evaluation will also seek to provide conclusive answers, as feasible, to questions about the possibility of various diagnoses such as dyslexia, other learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, anxiety, depression, mental retardation, or others. The client will receive specific recommendations for academic and behavioral interventions, as appropriate. The evaluation is meant to be a helpful tool for the client or parents and others, as deemed appropriate by the client or parents, such as teachers, tutors, physicians, counselors, or other professionals working with the client. Abbreviated evaluations for specific questions (e.g., ADHD only or giftedness only will, by nature, be more limited in scope).
Testing is one on one, interactive, and is generally enjoyable and encouraging. Generally, an individual is presented with a number of different tasks, some of which they find easy, and some which may be more challenging. Tasks can include hands on activities such as blocks and puzzles, looking at pictures, answering questions, completing paper and pencil tasks, and completing academic-type tasks in the areas of reading, math, and writing.
The length of the evaluation depends upon the age of the client and the type of evaluation requested. A comprehensive psychological evaluation usually takes about four hours for children below first grade. This includes three hours of client testing and one hour of parent feedback. Children in first grade through age sixteen should expect at least five hours, including four hours of testing and one hour of parent feedback. Clients sixteen years and older should expect at least six hours, including five hours of testing and one hour of feedback. If more complicated issues are presented, including social-emotional difficulties, the evaluation may take longer.
We recommend telling children and others who are going to be evaluated, that they will be coming to meet someone who will work with them to find out more about their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone’s brain works differently, and we want to learn more about how their brain works, in order to help make the things that are difficult for them, easier. We would avoid using the word “test.” I would instead say, “work with,” “do some activities with,” or “meet with.” As you know, the word test can fill any of us with anxiety!
Also, know that it is typical to be a little nervous at first, because you may not know what to expect. Typically, even the most nervous individuals are quickly set at ease once they get a feel for the different activities that they will do, and feel some success with them.
Generally, the first meeting is an intake session. Most of the time, children are not present, only the parent(s). During this intake session, you will be asked about your concerns, provide information on your child’s history, including a social/ developmental history, and given an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. If there have been any previous evaluations or school notes/ plans, it is very helpful to bring those along. You can expect the intake to last an hour to an hour and a half. If testing will be done, it will be scheduled on a different day, about 2 weeks after the intake. This time period allows our office to get any pre-approval information needed from insurance companies, if you will be billing insurance.
Each of our providers is independent, and while some are in-network with various insurance companies, others are not. In addition, since each client's insurance plan is different, the coverage and cost varies on a case by case basis and you will need to check your plan and benefits. Our office can help with this if needed. Please note that our office is available to assist with insurance billing, but that ultimately you are responsible for knowing your benefits, including what is covered and what deductible you may have.
The initial session is the time for you to start to share your story, talk about your goals and what you would like to change. Another important aspect of the first session is deciding if you and your therapist are a good fit. Does she seem like someone you can trust? You are establishing a relationship that will become the foundation for working together. You will begin to figure out some goals; your therapist will begin to figure out how to help you get there.
Appointments are 50 minutes. This is the standard length of a counseling session.
To begin, you will meet once a week. We’ve found it’s important to gain some momentum in the beginning by meeting weekly, or progress can stall out. Once some or all of your goals are met, meeting less often will make sense.