Hugh S. Smith, Ph.D. & Associates, P.C.
1834 Oregon Pike
Suite 4 (Lower Level)
Lancaster, PA 17601
Phone: (717) 391-6808
Fax: (717) 391-0709
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How do I prepare my child for a psychological evaluation?
The psychological evaluation is a new experience for most children, and describing what to expect can be reassuring. Let them know we will be asking them questions about themselves, including finding out about things they like to do. They will be doing a variety of tasks, some that might appear as games and puzzles, others like school work. We strive to provide an encouraging and supportive environment during test administration. Make sure they have a good night sleep and are well nourished. Your child may be given breaks as needed and you can bring snacks or activities for your child during these break times.
How many sessions will it take?
Depending on the type of psychological evaluation, age of individual, and the type of tests we will be doing, the number of sessions vary. One to three sessions is typical.
How long should we schedule for each testing session?
The length of the testing session depends on what is being done, as well as the age of the individual. Generally psychological evaluations that involve just a clinical interview and a few questionnaires will last an hour, whereas psychological evaluations that involve intellectual and achievement testing, and/or use of neuropsychological tests may take several sessions lasting two or three hours each session. Also, for young children, testing may be carried out over several brief sessions of perhaps an hour or two apiece, to maximize attention and cooperation, and minimize fatigue.
What is the level of parental involvement in the psychological evaluation of a child?
Parental input is a very important part of the psychological evaluation. Through our clinical interview, you will provide valuable input regarding the strengths of your child, developmental and family history, as well as your current observations and concerns. Whenever possible, we prefer to interview the parent(s) separately from the child, given the nature of information discussed. During the testing itself, the evaluator will meet with the child individually.
What should I bring?
Please bring educational records, including previous test results, copies of Evaluation Reports (ER) or Individualized Educational Programs (IEP) if available, prior psychological or psychiatric evaluation reports, and any other documents that can provide the psychologist with a historical perspective and illustration of areas of concern. It is helpful to write down your observations and concerns, and also importantly your or your child’s strengths, interests, and abilities. Also, bring water and a light snack.
What is done during a psychological evaluation?
Though the procedures during a psychological evaluation may differ, depending on the referral question, all generally involve the following:
A Clinical interview will be conducted, during which you, and in case of children, the parent(s) or caregiver(s), are asked questions pertaining to family dynamics, developmental and medical history, school and/or vocational history, social functioning, clinical symptoms and emotional/behavioral concerns.
Observations will be made of behaviors in the testing session and approach to the tasks. We may also ask for input from a variety of sources, such as through parent or teacher report forms.
The psychologist will administer one or more Standardized (Norm-Referenced) Tests that produce scores based on a clearly defined group, and scaled so that each individual score reflects a rank within that norm group. In this way, inferences can be made about the degree to which the individual’s symptoms or abilities differ from the general population.
Informal Assessment, may also be utilized, including descriptive questionnaires, writing samples, or projective measures such as storytelling tasks or drawings that can help to supplement the above procedures in further understanding the individual.
A written report is produced, summarizing these procedures and the findings. From this, a diagnosis is often generated, and recommendations are made for interventions.
What kinds of recommendations are made?
The purpose of the psychological evaluation is to answer the referral question, and make recommendations based on the findings.
If it is determined that the individual is having specific emotional, social or behavioral difficulties, then recommendations may reflect a specific type of therapeutic intervention and identify preliminary goals for the treatment plan.
If the individual is identified as having an intellectual or learning disability, or exhibiting giftedness, recommendations will reflect strategies and/or accommodations that can help maximize potential and meet educational needs.
In career or vocational assessments, recommendations will reflect areas of consideration in a career path, and avenues to access for support.
Will I get a copy of the report?
Generally yes. We will schedule a feedback session, in which the results of the psychological evaluation will be explained to you. You will be provided with a copy of the report at the conclusion of the meeting.
There are exceptions, such as in the case of contracted work done through the Adult and Juvenile Justice Systems or county Department of Children, Youth and Families, for example. For these evaluations, arrangements may need to be made with your attorney and the contracting agency regarding the distribution of copies of the report.