All parents want the best for their children. That is why it is so difficult to see them struggling, whether it be in school, with friends, behaviorally or emotionally. You may find yourself in the school counselors office, constantly meeting with teachers, adding services, and/or utilizing therapy. All your efforts feel like you’re putting a Band-Aid for the problem only for it to crop up again, perhaps in a new form, soon enough. You want to find the cause, but how?

Medical issues can seem more straightforward. If your child had a persistent cough, you’d bring him or her to the doctor. After a series of tests, you’d know if it were virus/bacteria, asthma, or a problem in the lungs. Each cause has a distinct set of treatment for the problem. A cough is only a symptom just as sadness, anger, inattentiveness, or failed relationships are symptoms of a deeper issue. There are underlying dynamics as well as coping and learning styles at play. Many think there isn’t a complementary psychological instrument to look into the mind and see where the issues lie. Psychological instruments do exist but are often underutilized.  Meyer et. al. (2001) compared psychological testing with medical testing and found psychological testing to be on par with, and sometimes even more accurate than medical testing.

Psychological assessment is a series of personality, cognitive and/or neurocognitive tests custom selected for each individual situation. After administration, these tests are scored, analyzed and integrated with one another in a detailed written report. Here are some examples of how assessment has helped clients:

  1. A 12-year-old boy was having difficulty with friends and completing homework. Personality testing revealed themes of helplessness, negativity and coping styles of looking at the broader picture at the expense of smaller details. Cognitive testing reflected this style by his low processing speed and difficulty planning. Taken together, when approached with social engagement, the child came off as depressed and disinterested. He could not plan how to effectively engage. Instead, he would hastily read the social picture. Therapy helped him understand these situations better and give him a better skillset for developing positive relationships. His executive functioning difficulty (slow processing speed and difficulty planning) lead to a diagnosis of ADHD along with corresponding educational accommodations and psychiatrist referral for medication.
  1. A 17-year-old girl’s parent found her cutting herself. Therapy was stalled and not helping. Personality testing revealed that she tended to “fake good.” She wanted to please others and kept any negativity hidden in efforts to be likable. Testing also revealed had underlying anger and suicidality. Therapy was able to progress once the therapist unmasked the anger in a way that was congruent and accessible to the patient’s coping style.

Assessment can help shine light on any difficult situation diagnostically, educationally, psychologically and cognitively in order to provide the best evidence based treatment for the given situation. The summer is a great time to get your child tested, as it’s a break from stressors and can start the next school year off right. I am currently offering special testing pricing for the summer to make this service more accessible to most families. For more information, please go to http://jessicaescottpsyd.com/services/psychodiagnostic-assessment/.

Jessica Escott, PsyD MA is a clinical psychologist with private practices on the Upper Eastside and Scarsdale, NY. She specializes in treating adolescents and young adults through individual psychotherapy and psychological assessment. Dr. Escott has taught psychological assessment classes to psychology doctoral candidates and has conducted psychological assessments in a variety of mental health and academic settings for individuals ages 5 and up.