As a part of Carolina’s Counseling Group (CCG) in Charlotte, NC, I provide Psychological, Psychoeducational, and Neurodevelopmental Assessments for children, adolescents and adults. All assessments are tailored to the individual and use the most up to date psychological instruments available. Each assessment is crafted to consider the question or questions being answered (e.g. Does my child have a problem with ADHD, anxiety, or both? My child’s teachers are noticing symptoms of ADHD. Does my child actually have ADHD, or is something else going on?). The assessment is followed by an in-depth feedback session, which reviews the results and offers a comprehensive treatment plan including specific recommendations and accommodations as necessary.
Some of the typical assessments performed include:
CAIS Evaluations for admissions into Pre-K through 4th grade
ADD/ADHD Assessment for Children, Adolescents, and Adults: ADD/ADHD evaluations are particularly useful due to the over-diagnosis or hasty diagnosis of ADHD by some mental health providers. There are numerous different medical and emotional difficulties that can contribute to one’s ability or inability to maintain attention and concentration. A comprehensive assessment is required to determine the specific cause of the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity that are being reported. Additionally, their is increasing awareness of Adult ADD/ADHD and comprehensive evaluations are also available in considering adults symptoms of inattention and distractibility.
Comprehensive Learning Assessments: teachers and parents frequently identify areas of academic weakness in their students. Educational assessments are particularly helpful, and necessary, in identifying the specific areas of weakness, in order to develop a treatment plan that effectively targets the weakness. Comprehensive learning assessments frequently examine ADD/ADHD and social/emotional functioning, as these developmental areas can contribute to a child’s problems with learning. Typically, a thorough report is provided, which is shared with the child’s school in order to obtain either a 504 plan, or an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that addresses the areas of weakness with specific accommodations (e.g. extended time on tests, testing in a separate room, specialized instruction in reading, etc.).
Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessments (ASD): Determining whether a child/adolescent meets the criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder, previously referred to as Asperger’s Disorder (as well as Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder), can be challenging, and the ramifications significant for the child’s future. Accurate identification of developmental difficulties such as ASD is possible with a comprehensive assessment. Questions typically asked and answered by such an assessment include: “My child has several features of ASD, but does that mean that he’s on the spectrum?” or, “My daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, but that doesn’t seem to explain the difficulties we’re are seeing socially. Could something else be contributing to these difficulties?”
Intelligence/IQ Testing for children and adolescents: many children are required to have an IQ test or “test of cognitive abilities” completed as a part of the admissions process to many schools. Such evaluations are provided in a timely manner at a flat rate.
Adult Personality and Clinical Assessments: adult assessments focus on a variety of issues, and typically involve seeking an in-depth, accurate diagnosis. Issues might involve: Depression, Dysthymia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, O.C.D., Bi-polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, etc.
Fees are based on the type of evaluation and the amount of time involved in conducting the assessment. In all cases, fees will be stated explicitly and in writing before services are provided. In most situations, payment is expected in full at the time of the evaluation. Reduced fees may be available under certain circumstances. For current information about fees, you may contact Dr. Chad Kraska at 704-752-8414 ext.106.
Psychological testing is covered on some individual’s insurance plans. Check with your insurance provider to see if psychological or neuropsychological testing is covered. The CPT code for psychological testing is 96101, which may be shared with insurance to determine if testing is covered under your plan.
Dr. Kraska participates on the following insurance panels:
– Blue Cross/Blue Shield
What is included in a psychological evaluation?
There are five essential elements…
1. A review of the presenting problem. The presenting problem(s) is the reason the individual is seeking treatment or an evaluation. Examples of presenting problems include: difficulty with falling and staying asleep, poor organizational skills, frequently forgetful, depressed or sad most of the day, anxious or restless throughout the day, difficulty letting go of things, etc.
2. A psychological interview. The interview is where the psychologist gets to know the client personally and in-depth. A review of current symptoms, history of symptoms, and development are collected so that an accurate picture of the individual can be made. Questions are asked in the areas of family, social, medical, and work/school.
3. Psychological testing related to the presenting problem. Based on the information obtained in the presenting problem and comprehensive interview, the psychologist will then identify appropriate testing to obtain specific information about problem areas. Psychological tests typically consist of answering specific questions on standardized instruments. The tests selected may measure moods, personality, aptitude, pathology, skill, intelligence or ability.
4. A summary of the results and feedback session. The psychologist then pulls together all the information gained from the interview and testing to create a clinical picture of the client and generate appropriate diagnoses in four areas: identifiable psychiatric disorders, personality disorders, medical conditions which may be affecting mental health, and social/environmental problems. The summary also includes a Global Assessment of Functioning, which assigns a number. This summary is called a multiaxial assessment and is used to complete the recommendations and suggestions.
5. Recommendations and suggestions. The psychologist now creates a list of recommended interventions to address the problems identified in the multiaxial assessment. These recommendations are typically treatment interventions which have been shown through research and practice to effectively work on the problems identified. The psychologist will refer the patient to appropriate resources to obtain the interventions recommended. For example, if the psychologist has diagnosed the individual with bipolar disorder and recommended a medication consultation, he will likely refer the patient to a psychiatrist for medications. Sometimes, the psychologist will provide the treatment interventions himself—depending upon his scope of practice (e.g. using cognitive behavioral therapy in treating a client diagnosed with depression/anxiety).
Typically, a comprehensive psychological assessment report will be provided containing the five essential elements. The report may be used for: obtaining necessary services based upon particular diagnoses, collaborating with teachers and schools regarding services needed to address attention/learning concerns (typically called an IEP or 504 plan), for clarity and accuracy when dealing with multiple healthcare professionals (psychologist and a psychiatrist), and for the tracking of symptoms over time.
How will a comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment help my child?
1. Provides CLARITY – it’s easy to make assumptions as to why our child is struggling in school, or why he is struggling to make or keep friends. Our assumptions and ideas may be right, but then again, they may not. A psychological evaluation helps sift through the hunches and foggy ideas about what “may” be going on, and provides clear, accurate, and detailed explanations of what is causing the child to struggle in a particular area.
2. Sets EXPECTATIONS – clearly understanding an individual and their struggles with clarity enables parents, teachers, coaches and friends to set realistic and appropriate expectations for the child. Assuming that someone is capable of something when they are not is a recipe for discouragement and low self-esteem. Often, an accurate diagnosis can help with providing clear guidelines for what can and should be expected from a child.
3. Helps develop a TREATMENT PLAN – it’s hard to treat a problem when your really not sure what’s wrong. It’s amazing how frequently people may begin to try and treat a problem before accurately understanding the problem. Treatment plans and interventions are most effective when developed around a thorough understanding of a client’s diagnosis, which is obtained from a good psychological evaluation. Treatment plans are often well crafted, but can miss the mark if there is misunderstanding surrounding the cause or nature of the problem.
4. Improves PARENTING – when a parent has clarity regarding what makes their child tick and is clear on what expectations are appropriate, they are in a much better place to know how to parent their child effectively. This enables them to set reasonable limits, provide adequate praise, and establish the correct amount of structure into their child’s life.
5. Prevents years of FRUSTRATION – having clarity, the right expectations, a solid treatment plan and the right support can have a dramatic effect on the development of any child, particularly, in the areas of: academic performance, social skills/relationships, confidence, self-esteem, level of motivation, and happiness. Struggling with an undetected problem for years can be a drain on anyone’s level of functioning and can create problems in all areas of life. Therefore, it is worth the time and effort to properly address the problem before the consequences become more difficult to manage.
What should I tell my child about the appointment?
Preparing your child for testing will minimize anxiety and encourage cooperation. Before the day of testing, it is helpful to remind the child what the day will be like. Try to avoid calling it “testing,” as this word makes many children anxious. Make sure your child knows they will be meeting alone with the psychologist. Explain that children learn in different ways and that testing will help parents and teachers understand how he/she learns best. The day will include a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, and stories as well as some school-like tasks like reading and math. While your child will be challenged, he or she will probably have fun with some of the tasks. On the day of testing, make sure your child is well rested and has eaten a good breakfast. Arrive a few minutes before your scheduled time to allow your child to become familiar with the psychologist and to get settled before starting. To avoid fatigue, breaks will be taken during the testing to allow your child to use the restroom and have a drink or snack. Children also often like to talk with their parent(s) during the breaks. For children under 9, we require parents to remain in our lobby for the duration of the testing. It is at your discretion to remain or run errands if your child is over 9, but please make sure that the office has a number at which you can be reached immediately in case of illness or other difficulty.
What happens after the testing?
Approximately two weeks after the testing, you will return to the office without your child for a results review and discussion. (If your child is to come with you, Dr. Kraska will let you know; teenagers are usually expected to come, though.) This results review appointment typically takes 50 minutes. At this appointment, Dr. Kraska will review the testing results, discuss recommendations, and answer any questions you may have. A written report is provided at the results review session or within two weeks of that appointment. The report provides a written record of the testing that was completed, and provides specific recommendations so that parents, educational staff, physicians, and other professionals working with your child can coordinate a treatment plan that will enable your child to succeed. You may be asked to sign a release so that the report can be sent directly to certain professionals. Reports are generally not sent directly to schools, as it is typically more helpful for parents to hand-carry a copy of the report directly to the school personnel who need to see the results and recommendations.