The Benefits Of A Psychological Assessment For Children Who Are Struggling

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Our guest blogger this week is clinical psychologist Dr. Jessica Escott. She explains the important benefits of a psychological assessment for children and outlines specific cases where the results led to positive behavioral changes.

 

As a parent, you want the absolute best for your children so it is extremely difficult to watch them struggle, whether it be in school, with friends, behaviorally or emotionally. When such struggles occur, you may seek out the school counselor, set up recurring meetings with teachers, add services and/or utilize therapy. These efforts often feel like a Band-Aid solution that only lasts temporarily only to surface again, perhaps in a new form, soon enough. You want to find the cause, but how?

 

Medical issues can sometimes seem more straightforward. For example, if your child had a persistent cough, you’d take him or her to the doctor, who would perform a check-up and, after a series of tests, you’d find out if it were virus/bacteria, asthma or a problem in the lungs. Each cause has a distinct course of treatment for the problem. A cough is only a symptom of something, just as sadness, anger, inattentiveness or failed relationships are symptoms of a deeper issue. With relationships, there are always underlying dynamics as well as coping and learning styles at play. Many think there isn’t a complementary psychological instrument to look into the mind and see where the issues lie. In fact, psychological instruments do exist but are often underutilized.  Meyer et. al. (2001) compared psychological testing with medical testing and found psychological testing to be on par with, and sometimes even more accurate than medical testing.

 

Psychological assessment is a series of personality, cognitive and/or neurocognitive tests custom hand selected for each individual situation. The tests are administered, scored, analyzed and integrated with one another in a detailed written report. Here are just a couple of examples of how a psychological assessment has helped clients:

  • A 12-year-old boy was having difficulty with friends and completing homework. Personality testing revealed themes of helplessness, negativity and coping styles of looking at the broader picture at the expense of smaller details. Cognitive testing reflected this style by highlighting his low processing speed and difficulty planning. Taken together, when approached with social engagement, the child came off as depressed and disinterested. He could not plan how to effectively engage. Instead, he would hastily read the social picture. Therapy helped him understand these situations better and give him a better skillset for developing positive relationships. His executive functioning difficulty (slow processing speed and difficulty planning) led to a diagnosis of ADHD along with corresponding educational accommodations and psychiatrist referral for medication.
  • A 17-year-old girl’s parent found her cutting herself. Therapy was stalled and not helping. Personality testing revealed that she tended to “fake good.” She wanted to please others and kept any negativity hidden in efforts to be seen as likable. Testing also revealed she had underlying anger and suicidal thoughts. Therapy was able to progress once the therapist unmasked the anger in a way that was congruent and accessible to the patient’s coping style.

 

Assessment can help shine light on any difficult situation diagnostically, educationally, psychologically and cognitively in order to provide the best evidence-based treatment for the given situation. The summer is a great time to get your child tested, as it’s a break from stressors and can start the next school year off right. I am currently offering special testing pricing for the summer to make this service more accessible to most families. For more information, please go to http://jessicaescottpsyd.com/services/psychodiagnostic-assessment/.

About Jessica:  Jessica Escott, PsyD MA is a clinical psychologist with private practices on the Upper Eastside and Scarsdale, NY. She specializes in treating adolescents and young adults through individual psychotherapy and psychological assessment. Dr. Escott has taught psychological assessment classes to psychology doctoral candidates and has conducted psychological assessments in a variety of mental health and academic settings for individuals ages 5 and up. Contact us at www.lwwellness.com to book an appointment.

3 replies
  1. Ridley Fitzgerald
    Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    You’re right, it’s really hard to see my kids have a hard time. My son seems like he’s going through depression, or something like it, and I’m worried. I think I should look into hiring a psychologist, like you said.

    Reply
  2. Deb Pearl
    Deb Pearl says:

    I liked how you mentioned that sadness, anger, and frustration are just symptoms of a deeper issue. I have noticed that my son has been very angry and upset lately, but he doesn’t know what’s wrong. I’m glad that there is testing that I can have him do so we can figure out what is going on.

    Reply
  3. Julius Wither Amberfield
    Julius Wither Amberfield says:

    It was really helpful when you mentioned here that because summer means a break from stressors, it’s a good time for a child to be assessed because that will also help in starting the next school year right. A younger sibling of mine has been acting strange lately, and I know the reason behind it. She was the witness to a tragic car accident, and she was not able to flush the sight out of her system. I don’t know what I need to do, so I guess I’ll just bring her to someone who can help her. Thanks.

    Reply

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