Post Written By Dr. Shelby Zavala-Barajas
Maybe you’re considering psychological assessment, you’ve read our “How It Works” timeline, and you’d like to know a little more before contacting us. Maybe you’ve already contacted us and want to know more about the process before your consultation. Or maybe you’re in the middle of the psychological assessment process and just want a reminder of what comes next. Wherever you’re at, this extended timeline is here to offer you more detailed information and helpful hints about your psychological assessment at The Mendery!
1. Schedule a Call
First, our lovely Care Facilitator, Ally, will answer any preemptive questions you may have regarding the assessment process. She’ll then set you up with a 15-minute phone call with our assessor, Dr. Shelby (me!). You will receive a call from me at your scheduled day and time. During this phone call, you will be asked to briefly describe what brings you or your child in for psychological assessment (i.e., goals, concerns, questions). You will have a chance to ask any questions you may have about assessment, Dr. Shelby, or The Mendery, and you will have the opportunity to schedule an intake session.
*Helpful hint: You may want to think about and write down any questions you have prior to the brief phone call with me. It’s important to us to answer any and every question you may have, so having them prepared will streamline this process.
2. Intake Session
We will meet at The Mendery on the day and time of your intake appointment and we will meet for approximately 90 minutes. During this time, we will discuss what brings you or your child in for psychological assessment, background information, and your goals for the assessment. In regards to background information, we will discuss the following aspects of your history: family, social, relational, academic, career, mental health, and medical. All of this information will be used for test selection, as well as be included in the final report as background information. During this appointment you will also get the chance to ask any additional questions that may have come up since the initial phone call. Finally, we will discuss next steps to wrap up your intake appointment.
*Helpful Hint: If you have significant mental health or medical history, please bring in any documentation or information you have (i.e., previous testing reports, medical reports, medication names and dosages, previous/current diagnoses, etc.). This information will be asked about and included in your report, so having this information handy will be helpful!
Following the intake session, I will select a number of tests and assessments based on the information you shared and the testing goals we established. Once this selection has been made, I will be able to calculate how many hours we will need to meet face-to-face for testing, how many hours you will need to complete self-report tests at home, and how much the testing will cost. All of this information will be sent to you via a Good Faith Estimate on Simple Practice (our HIPAA compliant client portal).
*Helpful hint: If you have any questions regarding the number of hours required for testing or the cost of testing, please reach out to me! I’m happy to answer your questions and discuss numerous options we have to make the assessment work for you!
Once you’re ready to move forward, you’ll give me the “go ahead” and we’ll schedule the testing sessions. We will schedule 2 – 4 testing sessions that will last between 2 – 4 hours each. My testing appointments are on Thursdays and Fridays at 8am or 1pm. Generally, all testing sessions will be scheduled across 1 – 4 weeks.
*Helpful hint: If you need excused time off of work or school to attend testing sessions, we can provide you with a doctor’s note.
On testing days, we will meet at The Mendery, just like the intake session. It’s important to be on time, or maybe even a little early to avoid any undue stress. The number one question I get about testing sessions is “How can I prepare?” The answer is: get a good night’s sleep, be sure to eat breakfast (and/or lunch depending on testing time), drink water, and minimize stress the day of testing (i.e., try not to schedule on days that you have big work meetings, exams, or other stressful events prior to or following the testing session).
Things to avoid prior to testing: illicit drug use 48 hours prior to testing, alcohol consumption 24 hours prior, and high amounts of caffeine or sugar 12 hours prior. If you have questions about any medications you are taking and how it may affect testing, please contact your medication provider to discuss your concerns. While we always defer decisions to your medication provider, it is helpful for us to know what medications you’re on and concerns you may have about their impact on the testing process.
During our testing sessions, you will complete a number of different tasks which could include any combination of pen-and-paper, computer, and tablet administered assessments. Additionally, you may have a few tests to complete at home, which may be on paper or via computer. Finally, there may be one or two tests for a teacher, family member, or partner to complete, which will be on paper or via computer. If you have any questions about your at-home tests, please reach out to us. We’re always happy to answer questions!
*Helpful hint: Bring a bottle of water and a snack with you to your testing sessions. Additionally, if your child struggles with separation, feel free to have them bring a favorite toy or game that may help them warm up to the assessor.
Once all testing sessions have been completed and all at-home assessments have been returned, it’s time to schedule the feedback session! The feedback will be scheduled for approximately six weeks out from the date all testing materials were completed and returned to the assessor. During these six weeks, your assessor is scoring your assessments, formulating a conceptualization based on your results, and writing up your personalized report.
*Helpful hint: If you need the feedback and/or report earlier than six weeks from completing testing, discuss that with your assessor! For a fee, the report and feedback may be available at an earlier date.
You’ve made it to the final step – the Feedback Session! We will meet at The Mendery for 90 minutes, during which time you will receive a copy of your report and we will walk through it together. The report will include a brief background history, all test results, interpretation of results, diagnosis(es), recommendations, and resources. We will go section by section to discuss everything in the report. I will ensure there is time for you to ask questions and process what you’ve heard and learned. You will be given one physical copy of your report and an electronic copy will be uploaded onto Simple Practice following the feedback session.
*Helpful hint: You can always reach out with questions after the feedback session! If the questions are determined to be brief, your assessor can likely answer them via a 5-10-minute phone call. If they are determined to be more complex or timely, you will be offered the ability to schedule another feedback session for a fee.
Our hope for psychological assessments here at The Mendery is that each person leaves having a better understanding of yourself and/or your child and a direction of how to best move forward given the results. We want you to feel more equipped and empowered as you continue moving through your mental health journey!