Understanding Psychological Evaluations

Understanding Psychological Evaluations

Psychological evaluations are used in a variety of settings. For children, Psychological assessments are often needed to diagnose conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum. The results of an evaluation can help to clarify what is causing a child’s emotional or behavioral difficulties. These types of evaluations are conducted by Dr. Mark Flynn at Community Behavioral Services. The evaluations are often used to clarify an individual’s diagnosis in order to create an appropriate treatment plan.

Psychological evaluations are also useful for adults. In addition to helping to understand what is causing an individual’s emotional or behavioral problems, they are also used at times to clear someone for employment or clarify the extent of any existing disability which might impair their ability to work. In a forensic setting, Psychological assessments are used to assess parenting skills in family law cases and are frequently needed to assess an individual’s competence in a legal setting for determining how psychological problems might be related to their legal difficulties. These evaluations are conducted by Dr. Larry Neidigh at Community Behavioral Services.

What is a psychological evaluation?

A Psychological Evaluation typically utilizes three procedures. First, a thorough history is taken regarding developmental issues, past trauma, medical conditions, interpersonal functioning, and past diagnoses and treatment. It also includes a formal Mental Status Examination which is a discussion with the Psychologist regarding the moods, emotions, and psychological issues which you are currently facing. The Mental Status Examination includes a review of symptoms of the major mental disorders to ensure it is thorough and no difficulties have been overlooked. Though it seems somewhat unusual to many people, during the Mental Status Exam, you will typically be asked to perform some mental calculations and answer some questions regarding your general understanding of what is occurring in the world today in order to make sure that there are no intellectual or organic factors which may be affecting your day-to-day life.

Finally, the evaluation also includes a battery of carefully selected psychological tests to further assess difficulties you may be experiencing and/or to evaluate the severity of the problems you are experiencing. The psychological tests are standardized and produce scores which can be compared to scores of the average population. The psychological testing is used to provide an objective measurement of difficulties which helps in understanding the most appropriate approach to treatment. These are not like academic tests and there are no right or wrong answers. It is typically you answering questions about yourself.

How can a psychological evaluation help me?

Psychological evaluations can help you understand what is causing the problems that you are struggling with. They can help you understand what kind of help you really need and provide valuable insights into your personality. With children, the evaluations often lead to referrals for specialized help with certain conditions. In a forensic setting, the evaluations help establish someone’s disabilities or competence. These evaluations are frequently used by the court in making decisions regarding parental fitness, custody, and timesharing issues. These are also used by the courts to determine eligibility for disability benefits and in personal injury cases.

What should I do if I need a Psychological Evaluation?

Only a Licensed Psychologist is allowed to conduct Psychological Evaluations under Florida statutes. However, being a Licensed Psychologist does not ensure that someone is competent in performing Psychological Evaluations. You should inquire about the Psychologist’s training and experience to make sure that this is their area of expertise. If you are in need of a Psychological Evaluation, please contact us at Community Behavioral Services to schedule an appointment.

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