QUESTIONS ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING AND ASSESSMENTS
What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive functions such as learning and memory or problem solving. Standard testing procedures are used to assess the various abilities that relate to learning and using knowledge and skills.
The following areas are in a neuropsychological evaluation are included:
Intelligence / Cognitive Capacities and Functions
Academic Achievement Levels in multiple areas of Reading, Written Language, and Mathematics
Attention / Concentration
Learning and Memory
Language Functioning and Skills
Perceptual / Visual Spatial Skills
Integrated and Applied Motor Skills
Problems Solving, Higher Order Language, and Critical Thinking
Executive Functions (e.g., Planning, Organization, Judgement)
A neuropsychological evaluation should be conducted in any of the following situations
If your child is struggling in school, and it is unclear why he or she is having such difficulties
When a child displays difficulties with learning or memory
When a child has observable difficulties with organizational abilities and executive functions
When a child has a treated Attention Deficit Disorder, but is still performing poorly academically
When a child has any history of neurological issues
When a child has a history of developmental delays (e.g., language or early motor delays)
If a child has suffered a traumatic brain injury
If a child has suffered any toxic exposure (e.g. lead poisoning, pre-natal subtance exposure, etc.)
Potential Benefits of Neuropsychological Testing
Discover the causes of your child’s academic problems
Determine if your child qualifies for special educational services
Determine if your child qualifies for regular education accommodations and supports
Determine whether your child qualifies for accomodations on standard tests such as the MCAS or SAT
Obtain a greater applied understanding of your child's learning
Academic Achievement Testing
Academic achievement testing assesses how a child is progessing in various academic areas, based on expected grade level or age level progress. Typically, academic areas such as reading (at the word and comprehension levels), written expression, and overall applied math skills and knowledge are assessed in a comprehensive academic achievement evaluation.
What is a Psychological Evaluation
A Psychological evaluation measures a child's social and emotional functioning in order to conceptualize and accurately diagnose any psychological difficulties.
A psychological evaluation is warranted if any of the following behaviors or situations is present
Observable Poor self-image or low self-esteem
Observed Self-injurious behavior
Observed Frequent crying and/or observable sad behaviors
Observed Lack of energy
Excessive worry or anxiety
Unusual or irrational fears
Poor Social Functioning or Poor Peer Relationships
Known Significant Family Dysfunction
Observed Binging and/or purging behaviors
Observed Frequent or Excessive Mood Swings
Observed Tendency Toward At-Risk Behaviors
Unusual behaviors (e.g. hoarding specific objects, rituals)
Reported Tendency to See or Hear Things Not Present
Observed or Reported Magical Belief Systems that are Developmentally Inappropriate
Questions Regarding Learning Disabilities
What Are Learning Disabilities?
Questions Regarding Therapy and Counseling
Frank E. Vargo, Ed. D.
The term “learning disability” can be confusing and even anxiety-provoking for parents. In addition, learning disabilities can be defined and understood differently in different countries, and even within various regions of the United States.
Whatever geographical regions you live in and whatever educational systems you are dealing with, there are some fundamental concepts that are commonly accepted involving the understanding of learning disabilities. To begin with, the term “learning disabilities” is actually a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. Such problems, to be considered a type of learning disability, must be primarily related to an individual’s innate learning abilities, and must not be primarily due to environmental factors. In other words, an individual with actual learning disabilities is either born with those issues or acquires them through events such as a brain/head injury. Researchers think that learning disabilities are caused by differences in how a person's brain works and how it processes information. Within a learning disability model, it is understood that children with such learning difficulties are not "dumb" or "lazy." Individuals with learning disabilities, in fact, usually have average or above average intelligence, but they process information differently from more typical learners their age.
It is important to restate that by most accepted definitions, individuals with learning disabilities have at least average-range general intelligence, with specific areas of learning problems that can cause a person to have trouble learning and using certain academic and education-related skills. The educational skill sets most often affected by specific learning difficulties include areas of
basic reading (word identification/word decoding);
reading fluency skills;
mathematics problem solving;
listening (listening comprehension);
speaking (oral expression);
learning and memory.
It is important for parents and teachers to note that the individual patterns of learning disabilities typically vary from person to person. For instance, while one student may have specific trouble with various aspects of reading and writing, another student may have primary difficulties in language processing and thinking that also affect reading and writing.
Learning disabilities are more common than most people realize. For instance, it has been documented that as many as one out of every five people in the United States has a recognized form of a learning disability. Consequently, almost three million children in the U.S. (ages 6 through 21) have some form of a learning disability and receive special education in school.
Parents often ask if there is a “cure” for learning disabilities. While there is no "cure" for such innate learning issues, children and adults with learning disabilities can be taught ways to “learn around” their specific learning problems by obtaining and using appropriate learning strategies specific to them. As such, children and adults with learning disabilities are capable of becoming academically successful and being high achievers. With accurate identification and the right help, children and adults with learning disabilities can and do learn successfully.
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsl as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
Developing skills for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
Improving communications and listening skills
Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
What is therapy like?
Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
Compassion, respect and understanding
Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
Real strategies for enacting positive change
Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
In some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you. It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
What are my mental health benefits?
What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is therapy confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and psychotherapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.