What is psychological assessment used for?
Psychological assessment, sometimes called psychological testing, provides information that will help guide you and the professionals (teachers, therapists, etc) working with you or your child. Assessment provides an analysis of the difficulties faced by you or your child and suggestions about the most effective teaching modalities and/or the best remedies or treatment for these difficulties. The assessments that I do are most often requested by schools (elementary through college — including graduate and professional schools) or by physicians or psychotherapists. The purpose is to identify difficulties, whether in the area of cognitive functioning (such as Learning Disabilities), neuropsychological functioning (such as ADHD) or psychological functioning (such as anxiety or depression) or more complex combinations of emotional and intellectual functioning.
Do you do assessments for school and test accommodations?
Yes. If you (or your child) have (or suspect you have) some issue that interferes with school performance or performance on standardized tests, you may be able to receive accommodations from the school or test administrator. Each situation is different, but I have considerable experience with assessments for this purpose. I have worked with people who have difficulties which, when documented, resulted in accommodations in school (high school, college and graduate education) as well as SATs, MCATs, GREs, LSATs, the USMLE, COMLEX, MBVME and, perhaps, some others. It is important to talk with your school counselor or other school official and ask whether they give accommodations, whether they provide testing, and, if they do not, exactly what testing they would require in order to give accommodations. In the case of standardized examinations, generally the website for the exam administrator has detailed information about assessment and accommodations. You are also welcome to call here to find out more.
In what other situations is psychological assessment useful?
It is sometimes said that psychological assessment can’t find out anything that a good clinician couldn’t find out by talking to someone. This may sometimes be true, however, there are times when assessment is best:
(1) When there is not a lot of time.
A good clinician can find out a lot about a person, but it generally takes many sessions over many weeks to glean the same amount of information that a psychological assessment can obtain in a few sessions over a week or two. This can be important for many reasons. For example, you may have a child who is not doing well in school, and you want to rectify that as soon as possible, or you may have a lot of responsibilities and need to answer some questions about yourself quickly to improve your functioning.
(2) When it is not possible or easy for the client to express themselves.
This is the case especially with children, who are not very good yet at identifying their feelings or expressing themselves. The younger the child, the more difficult these tasks are. In addition, many older children and adults are not comfortable or skilled at assessing their problems or describing their inner worlds verbally.
(3) When there is really no other good way to get the information needed.
This is especially true with areas such as learning style and neuropsychological functioning that are difficult to observe and define without these assessment instruments.
What if I don’t do well on the tests?
The word “test” brings up thoughts of schools and grades and doing well or poorly. That is not how these “tests” work. There are no right or wrong answers. The tests (which psychologists prefer to call “instruments”) are designed to find out about how you or your child functions. For example, they might provide information about how a person is best able to learn, or what type of coping resources the person is likely to use, or how the person responds to stress.
What are psychological assessment sessions like?
There are a large number of psychological tests, each designed to look at a different aspect of a person’s functioning or to answer a different type of question. When you or your child come in for psychological assessment it is often because you; your child’s teacher; or your physician, psychologist, or other health-care provider has questions or concerns which need to be addressed. The first session involves a conversation with you or with you and your child about the issues that brought you in for the assessment and the background leading to the issues and the decision to have the assessment done now. It is then up to the psychologist doing the assessment (me) to select an appropriate group of tests (called a test battery) based on that information. These tests come in a variety of forms. Some are pencil and paper tests in which the client answers lots of True/False questions about themselves. Others are more “hands-on” and ask that the client organize pictures or work with puzzles. In some, the client will be asked lots of questions, or asked to respond to cues on a computer screen or make up stories to go along with pictures. The evaluation, in the end, is based on information provided in the initial interview, responses to the various tasks and questionnaires, and my clinical evaluation based on, generally, six to nine face-to-face hours with the client.
How much does psychological assessment cost?
Assessments done in by me are individually administered, and the assessment instruments making up the battery are individually selected for the particular client and situation. Charges depend on the specific questions to be answered and the assessment tools that will be used. Roughly speaking, assessment can cost as little as $1500 for something very simple, or as much as $5,000 for a very complex situation. You should contact me to talk about the specifics of your particular situation.
Generally the assessment cost will include:
- A preliminary interview with the client and/or his or her parents
- Two or 3 sessions of 2 to 4 hours each. Length of the session depends on the situation and stamina of the person being tested, while total number of hours depends on the questions being addressed and complexity of the situation.
- Scoring and interpretation of the test information and preparation of a written report
- A 1 to 2 hour session explaining results.
Additional charges may apply if significant time is allocated to the review of previous assessment documents or history; consultation with parents, teachers, or other practitioners involved in the client’s care; and whether school visits or other off-site activities are involved.
Does everyone charge that much? Are all assessments done this way?
It is probable that there are some well qualified people doing assessments for less cost. However, my charges are based on spending a substantial amount of time with the client, thoroughly evaluating the results of the assessment instruments, integrating information from interview, history, clinical impressions and test data, writing a comprehensive report, and providing a thorough explanation to you or you and your child which includes recommendations for treatment or other action. For every hour I spend doing the assessment with the client I will spend approximately one and a half to two hours scoring, interpreting and integrating data, preparing the report, and explaining the results to you.
Will insurance pay for psychological assessment?
Some insurance will pay for at least a part of the assessment costs. You should contact your insurance company and see what your policy offers. Often insurance companies will not pay unless they have approved the testing prior to it beginning. You should check with them about this. My policy is to charge you for the assessment, and give you a receipt that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Partial payment (half) is expected at the beginning of the testing process, and payment in full by the last session. Credit cards can be used.