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What is a psychological evaluation: How can it help?

Updated  1 January 2014

A psychological evaluation starts with your questions, and ends with a discussion of information in a written report that helps you make more informed decisions about your questions. A psychological evaluation is one of many ways to learn about your child. Often parents and teachers complete checklists (with response choices such as never, sometimes and often) as part of screening assessments, which are designed to provide much less information than a psychlogical evaluation. Screening assessment are relatively easy to administer, with the goal of helping you decide if more comprehensive assessment makes sense.

Comprehensive psychological assessments are individually-tailored, and go beyond just identifying a specific disorder or disability. Utilizing scientifically-grounded and sensitively-delivered psychological testing procedures, your evaluator can gain a better sense of how your child’s mind works in-the-moment. These are some components common to most psychological assessments:

  • about 1-hour meeting to discuss your current concerns, as well as your child's developmental history and strengths;
  • several longer meetings to complete psychological testing;
  • interviews with teachers, therapists, or other important people in your child’s life, if indicated;
  • review of any relevant medical, mental health, and school records;
  • one or more meetings to review the results; and
  • consultation with school personnel, treatment providers, or other people in your child’s life, if requested.

By integrating information from so many different sources, your assessor is often able to gain a robust and sophisticated understanding of your child’s needs, gifts, and struggles. The primary goal is to help you better understand your child’s needs and appreciate their psychological strengths.

Psychological evaluations can often cost $1000 and up, depending upon the complexity of the questions and the assessments necessary to answer them. The “product” you receive from a comprehensive psychological assessment is information. This is given both verbally and in the form of a detailed written report.