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Does my child need a psychological evaluation?

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This is one of the most common questions that we receive at the center.

Parents are often told from a pediatrician or other professionals that a psychological evaluation would be helpful or necessary. It’s interesting to dive into the request a little further.

Before that decision is made. I often advocate that the parent look at the end goal and the outcome that they’re seeking before they decide whether the evaluation is relevant to their child situation.

For example, if the child is going to get a 504, which is an individualized education plan within the school system, you would pursue an evaluation, as it is required to start that process.

However, if it’s just to form a diagnosis or rule out a concern, there are often other ways too achieve those outcomes that don’t require the psychological evaluation.

Psychological evaluations typically take place over 1-2 sessions and require several hours of diagnostic tests. This is often very difficult, stressful or overwhelming for children, and should only be conducted if necessary.

In the case of wanting to rule out issues, or end up with a relevant diagnosis, we always advocate that behavioral and mental health therapy should be the first route in that case. Once the child has completed therapy, they usually no longer warrant an evaluation, as the original behaviors are reduced or no longer present.

Psychological evaluations can be helpful, especially in the education system and especially with serious emotional or behavioral struggles. However, in most cases, a psychological evaluation is not necessary and there are other options that usually end up achieving positive results.

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