What is a Psychological Evaluation?
A psychological evaluation involves several components. First, you will receive a comprehensive interview so that Dr. Neff can understand your child’s developmental, medical, social, emotional, behavioral, and family history. Your child will be interviewed, as well. If you wish to include them, Dr. Neff will also consult with professionals who are involved in your child’s care, such as teachers, therapists, or other family members with valuable information about your child’s functioning.
Your child will then undergo a series of tests. Each test is chosen and administered individually by Dr. Neff based on the referral question (“Why are you here?”). Testing typically takes 4-8 hours, depending on the referral question and other factors.
Cognitive testing can include IQ, memory, attention, and achievement/learning tests. Social/emotional/behavioral testing involves you and other adults (i.e., teachers, therapists) rating the child on several forms that inquire about symptoms of various disorders. Your child will complete a series of self-report forms to answer similar questions. Often, testing also involves projective tests and more informal methods (storytelling, perspective-taking tasks, tasks involving imagination) to determine more about how your child thinks and experiences the world.
Through test data, interviews, and observations gathered during the process of assessment, Dr. Neff will formulate a comprehensive interpretation of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This data is summarized in a formal report. Dr. Neff will meet with you for a feedback session to discuss the findings and recommendations in detail, as well as to answer any questions you might have.
What are the Benefits of Psychological Testing?
Many people believe that the sole purpose of testing is to “get a diagnosis.” While this can, indeed, serve as the outcome of the evaluation, it does not have to be. Sometimes, it is advantageous to leave with a diagnosis, as this can lead your child to qualify for school services (such as an Individualized Education Plan) or specialized services within the community (such as Applied Behavioral Analysis for a child with an autism spectrum disorder).
Dr. Neff’s personal goal is for you to leave her office with a strong sense of your child’s needs and how to help them move forward and help them live their best life. The outcome of an evaluation will often diagnoses or descriptive labels (such as “gifted”), as long as this is useful for treatment planning, coordination with other professionals, and finding the right services and environments for your child. This also includes an analysis of your child’s strengths and “superpowers.”
Ultimately, your child’s testing “profile” post-evaluation is intended to guide your next steps in regards to parenting, schooling, and mental health decision-making. We hope that learning more about your child will set the stage for you to understand more about how your child learns, thinks, and experiences the world. For older children, self-understanding can motivate them to change and move into the best version of themselves. As a parent, test results can help you to set more realistic expectations for your child, and for yourself as a parent.
What Can I Expect When Setting Up an Evaluation?
The referral process involves you initiating contact with us. When you call or email us, we will ask you a series of questions to determine if Dr. Neff is the best person to help you/your child.
Once you are approved as a client, we will send you a packet of information to complete. This includes a consent form and more information about what to expect on the day of the evaluation. When we receive your packet back in the mail, we will schedule the evaluation.
Evaluations are usually divided into two days of testing, for about 3-4 hours each day, depending on the reasons for testing. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, we can be more flexible with scheduling.
On the day of the evaluation(s), you can expect:
-A clinical interview conducted by Dr. Neff with you and your child. The interview lasts about 1-2 hours, depending on the reasons for testing.
-Testing will occur for the remainder of time each day. While your child is being administered tests, you will be asked to complete a series of behavior rating forms so we can determine more about your child’s struggles and strengths. We ask that you remain in the office while your child is being tested.
Over the next few weeks, while you are waiting for results, Dr. Neff will interpret all tests, gather relevant records, and consult with any providers working with your child. She will compose a written report that summarizes the test findings and her impressions of your child’s strengths and areas for further growth. The report will often include a diagnosis if this is appropriate, as well as thorough recommendations.
-In a subsequent feedback session, Dr. Neff will review the testing results with you and answer any questions you may have. She welcomes other members of the team being in attendance so that the team can be “on the same page” moving forward. Dr. Neff believes that it truly takes a village to support a child’s growth and help him/her/them find and reach their greatest potential.
*Please note: Dr. Neff does not do custody evaluations, MAKe custody/visitation recommendations, or Do parenting evaluations. she conducts a limited number of forensic (i.e., court-ordered) evaluations.
What Ages Does Dr. Neff Serve?
Dr. Neff works with children ages 6 and up, as well as with adults.