What is a psychological evaluation or assessment?

Has your son or daughter’s teacher recommended that they be assessed for ADHD? Have you ever thought you were depressed or anxious, but just weren’t sure? Maybe you’ve been in therapy or counseling for some time, and feel like you’ve hit a wall. It sounds like a psychological evaluation might be helpful.

A psychological evaluation, or what we refer to in the field as psychological testing, is a battery of tests that helps the clinician to better understand what and how the client understands and deals with emotions, others, thoughts and the world. Sometimes testing will answer specific questions, like “do I have ADHD?” or “why do I always expect the worst to happen?” Psychological testing can be equated to blood testing or blood work. Doctors will often recommend you get blood work done when there is a concern about nutrient deficiencies and disease. It can provide valuable insights to what is affecting your body, from the inside, and that may be less apparent from the outside. In psychology, our form of blood work is psychological testing.

As a psychologist, I have found psychological testing helpful as it provides a thorough understanding about how one thinks, feels, perceives and works with information. This data can be invaluable in therapy. Sometimes psychological testing is required for school accommodations because of issues related to ADHD, anxiety or ODD. Other times therapists or psychiatrists might need a more definite diagnosis that is supported by objective findings. For example, a psychiatrist or PCP may be uncomfortable prescribing a stimulant medication before having a definite ADHD diagnosis, or to determine a possible treatment regimen for a bipolar disorder. In each of these cases, psychological testing can help to get the treating clinician more information, which can help their confidence in prescribing a certain treatment.

If you are interested in or have been told to seek psychological testing, give us a call or send us an email, and we will determine if we be of help!

Mindfulness, a primer

There is a lot of buzz today about mindfulness. You may hear about it in the media, and if you’re connected with a therapist or PCP, you may even have heard about it from them. A quick google search for the keyword “mindfulness” returned 213,000,000 results, far more than the 108,000,000 for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and many more than the 23,900,000 for the term DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), from which the therapeutic use of mindfulness has grown. Mindfulness, in essence, is the state of being in the present. Not the future. Not the past. The here and now. When you are mindful, you are focusing you attention to the present. A fun way to approach mindfulness is adopting a curious perspective, examining the present as though it is something entirely new and unique. More on this later.

We are finding that you can receive a lot of benefit from practicing mindfulness. Research has linked mindfulness to an increased ability to manage stress, better work-life balance, and benefits to mental and physical health. Recent research has also shown a connection between mindfulness practices in the workplace and improvements in attention and focus, with some benefits proposed for more short and longer-term use or practice. Further, a large analysis of current research literature indicates that mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) can be effective when used to treat anxiety and depression, and really do support the use of MBT in therapy. It is important to note, that in comparison to other treatment methods, MBT still has a way to go. More research is needed to further validate it; this is happening, and the potential outcomes are promising.

I use mindfulness as a part of my practice, and many have reported finding it helpful to deal with their symptoms coming from anxiety and depression. However, it is not an easy practice, and many have also reported that it can be difficult to engage in. It is also not a panacea, and just like most things, won’t “cure” your problems immediately. When used in the course of therapy, mindfulness practices can become a powerful tool in your toolbox. Working together with a therapist, you might find ways that MBT can be helpful. Dr. Ashley will be creating some videos on mindfulness, which you might also find helpful in deciding whether you would benefit from scheduling an appointment with us.