About Psychological Evaluations

Why obtain a psychological evaluation?
People seek out a psychological evaluation when they are encountering challenges in some aspect of their day-to-day functioning.  Perhaps they are not meeting their academic goals in school, or they are encountering challenges in being effective at work, or they are struggling in their relationships.  Psychological evaluations both

  1. provide information to help people better understand the challenge (what it is, where it comes from, why it exists, etc.) and
  2. provide recommendations for strategies to address and overcome the problem.

Below are some questions people might have that a psychological evaluation can help in answering:

  • Why is my child having problems in school?
  • Are there modifications or interventions that would assist my child in working to his or her potential?
  • Is my child’s school program the best fit?
  • Is my child gifted?
  • What are the best interventions to help my child learn?
  • Is my child able to take on the responsibilities of adulthood, or should I remain as guardian?
  • Why do I feel the way that I do?  Can I do anything about it?
  • How can I improve my relationships?

Sometimes, people already know and/or understand the problem they are having and seek out a psychological evaluation to support or document what they already know for a third party (e.g. school, therapist, physician, benefits provider, etc.).  Sometimes, a psychological evaluation may be helpful to confirm and/or clarify an existing diagnosis.  It can also be helpful to get a psychological evaluation if a person is getting “stuck” in school, in treatment or in life in general, and is seeking suggestions about ways to continue moving forward.

What does a psychological evaluation involve?
A psychological evaluation consists of some combination of observation, review of available records, interview, written responses to standardized questionnaires, performance on tasks and responses to standardized questions.  These methods are designed to gather data that allows a trained psychologist to answer the questions you may have about how you function in your day to day life.  I personally conduct all components of the evaluation, including gathering background information, administering psychological assessment instruments, preparing the report and providing feedback.  

How long does a psychological evaluation take?
Every evaluation is different and tailored to the individual circumstances of each person’s situation.  For a typical  psychological evaluation, we would meet for an initial one hour meeting, 2 to 5 hours for testing (depending on your individual need), and then a follow-up meeting which usually lasts approximately an hour.  In addition, I will review records, compile results and write a report, which usually takes around 5 hours of my time.  This is only an estimate and may vary based upon your individual circumstances.

Here are more details about how the time is broken down:

  • A psychological evaluation will start with an interview that will likely last between one and two hours.  This interview will help to clarify the question you have and the history of the problem.  Based upon this interview, I will plan with you how to proceed in order to best answer your referral question.
  • Psychological testing, if it is recommended, can vary in length, but usually lasts between 2 and 5 hours.  Usually, test administration can be completed in one half day (with lots of breaks!) or it can be broken up into two or three two-hour test administration periods.
  • Once the actual test administration and interview is complete, I will review any available records, evaluate the test findings, and write a report.  This part of the process also usually takes about 5 hours.
  • Finally, I will meet with you and talk about the findings of the testing as well as recommendations for steps you can now take to begin to address the question that brought you in.  This final meeting lasts as long as you need it to.  It is important that you leave our meeting with a full understanding of the findings of the evaluation, that we agree about my conceptualization of the problem and that you have an idea about where to go from here.  Usually, these meetings last about an hour.

What should I tell my child about the psychological evaluation?
People demonstrate their greatest ability under situations of low stress, and it is my goal to keep these psychological evaluations as low stress as possible.  You can tell your child that you and he or she  will be meeting together with me to better understand a challenge he or she may be struggling to overcome.  Every step of this evaluation will be explained to both you and your child and we will plan together to take this whole process at the speed with which your child is comfortable.

Here are a couple of helpful articles about psychological evaluations: