Mental Health Evaluations are meetings (virtual or in-person) in which client history is gathered, symptoms are assessed, a diagnosis is given, and a treatment is recommended. Ongoing therapy services are not provided, as mental health assessments are diagnostic and not therapeutic in nature. I have specific training in both general as well as court-ordered mental health assessment services and offer these to individuals aged 10-60.
Why would someone need or want a general mental health assessment?
Because mental health evaluations (also called mental health assessments) are diagnostic in nature, they are often helpful when you’d like a more complete picture of any possible mental health issues for you or your child. For example, oftentimes children and teenagers are mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD by their family doctor, when actually the “ADHD” symptoms are a result of a traumatic event undergone by the child. In a case like this, a totally different treatment is needed and medications may not be the best option. Oftentimes adults will seek assessments on their own or at the request of a loved one in order to determine the presence and/or severity of a mental health condition and how to best treat it.
Mental health is extremely complex and so many different symptoms can mask or mimic the true underlying condition, preventing full healing from taking place. Making it more difficult is the fact that social media is constantly flooding us with information suggesting that we have this diagnosis or that one… and it’s usually not accurate. While not the most important part of therapy, I do feel that a solid and accurate diagnosis is extremely important; it will guide your treatment and so is often the first step towards healing.
When might a court order a mental health assessment?
Court-ordered mental health assessments are diagnostic evaluations which are being done at the request/order of the courts. For example, mental health evaluations are frequently ordered by the judge when parents have a custody dispute. However, these evaluations are not intended to be used as custody or parenting time evaluations. In those cases, a PRE (Parental Rights Evaluator) or a CFI (Child and Family Investigator) are the professionals needed to assess family and parent functioning.
What is the assessment process?
Mental health assessments are done in 2 parts. The first part is the clinical interview which lasts approximately 90 minutes in which we will go over your family history, personal history, and symptoms. The second part is a 30 minute follow up session approximately a week later in which we will discuss the outcome of the assessment as well as the recommended treatments or interventions for any diagnosis given. You will be provided a copy of the evaluation report which you can provide to court officials if needed.
Prior to meeting, you (and close family when appropriate) will fill out and submit paperwork including questionnaires and/or scales designed to assess presenting symptoms.
How are these different from psychological or neuropsychological evaluations?
There are several subtle but very important differences between mental health assessments, psychological evaluations, and neuropsychological evaluations. Psychological evaluations are similar to mental health assessments however they are conducted by a licensed psychologist, who holds a PhD or a PsyD, and include several tests in order to get a more in-depth look at how symptoms are impacting an individual. Neuropsychological evaluations are used to determine the presence, severity, and nature of cognitive deficits. These are also conducted by licensed psychologists (who specialize in neuropsychology) and are indicated when there is evidence to suggest that an individual’s symptoms are the result of neurological issues such as traumatic brain injury or dementia. A simple way of looking at these differences is that mental health assessments determine that there is a problem, psychological evaluations determine how significant the problem is, and neuropsychological evaluations determine why there is a problem.
Generally, neither of these types of psychological evaluations are what the court is looking for when they order a “mental health evaluation.” It’s all kind of confusing, so be sure to ask me if you have questions about what kind of evaluation you need; I’m happy to send you in the right direction.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, not a licensed psychologist, so I cannot conduct many of the tests used by psychologists. However, I have had several years of specific training and experience in conducting clinical interviews and differential diagnosis. Additionally, I have the appropriate training to be able to administer, score, and interpret several tests including the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT-2), the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BASC-3), Short Sensory Profile (SSP), and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-5).
What are examples of recommendations that might be made?
Recommendations are specific to the person undergoing the assessment and vary widely, however some general recommendations may include suggested modalities for therapy, strategies for managing stress, executive functioning interventions, school/academic support options, medication evaluation and/or management, nutritional interventions, and specific exercise options. In addition to specific recommendations I am happy to provide referrals to local therapists, psychiatrists, etc. as needed.
What does a mental health assessment cost?
Both general as well as court-ordered assessments cost $450 and payment is collected at the start of the assessment. Payment can be made via check, cash, or credit/debit/HSA card. At this time I am unable to bill insurance for these assessments however I am happy to provide a superbill that you can submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement.
Other things to know about both general and court-ordered evaluations:
- I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and not a Certified/Licensed Addictions Counselor. This means that I can assess for the presence and severity of drug/alcohol issues but can’t provide in-depth treatment recommendations.
- I often use several different assessment measures (tests) to determine the presence and severity of symptoms, depending on the situation. Tests that I may use include sensory processing screens, ADHD screens, mood disorder assessments, language screeners, and brief intelligence assessments.
- I can and will assess for the presence of Autism Spectrum Disorders, however this is not my specialty and I would recommend you go straight to a professional who specializes in this if you are looking for a definitive diagnosis.
- I do not do educational or IEP assessments. However, I can provide a mental health evaluation that you can bring to your child’s school as part of an IEP or 504 request.
Questions? Please feel free to reach out to me via phone or email and I would be happy to schedule a phone consultation with you!