I recently spoke with a very happy father. He told me that his insurance company was going to arrange for him to have his child tested for only $15. I understood why he sounded so excited. And if you get an assessment though the school system it is free. Free sounds great, but the problem is that like with many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true to be, it probably is. As a former special education teacher, I have seen some good assessments done by school system staff, however, I also know the limitations of time, resources and even training that can negatively impact the quality of your child’s assessment.
So what are you getting when you have a private assessment? You get accurate information you need to make an action plan. You get information needed to advocate for yourself or your child to make sure you can get the help you need to make things better. Private psychologists can offer the time you or your child needs to show what they can do, considerable expertise, classroom observations, and data based recommendations.
Do your homework to find a psychologist that makes your assessment a priority. One of the first considerations is the time the psychologist will spend working with you. There’s no getting around that producing a quality report takes time. Many people outside the field do not know that some psychologists do not do their own testing. Instead, they pass you off to a graduate student or technician and sign the report at the end. In the school system, your child’s assessment may be done piecemeal by three different people (teacher, social worker, school psychologist) to save money. It is worth finding a psychologist who will give you the attention you deserve. A private psychological evaluation should be custom designed around what your goals, as well as your/your child’s strengths and weaknesses. It is also crucial to find a psychologist who has many cutting edge assessment tools at his or her disposal and the up to the minute training to use them well.
Your completed evaluation report should give you insight into how your mind (or your child’s mind) works. It should describe a detailed action plan that addresses educational interventions, therapy modalities, strategies for home, parenting advice, and information to inform medical treatments as appropriate.
Your evaluation report should include at least::
- A detailed discussion of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses
- A diagnosis or the reason no diagnosis is warranted
- Specific recommendations for educational placement and instructional methods
- Detailed recommendations for the treatment team (e.g. speech pathologists, occupational therapists, reading specialists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists etc).
- Advice for what family members can do at home to help the person
- A discussion of what accommodations the individual needs to achieve his or her potential
To get professional testing for your child or adolescent at our Northern Virginia office, contact MindWell Psychology today.