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The Importance of Receiving an Excellent Psychological Assessment

Parents often wonder why psychological assessment requires such a large investment of both time and financial resources. It is important to realize that ensuring the proper diagnosis and thus creating the most accurate and useful plan of treatment in the area of psychology and learning disorders requires careful evaluation by the clinician. This includes time spent getting to know the individual child, their unique concerns and struggles, gathering data from multiple sources, evaluating and integrating the data, and then working to create customized solutions and a course of action. Many of these important aspects of evaluation are often skipped by well-meaning clinicians who attempt to offer brief and inexpensive assessments, or who are forced to work quickly due to the constraints of many managed care insurance companies. This may result in inaccurate diagnosis and time wasted on ineffective treatment. Families often report increased levels of stress and frustration following failed interventions due to poor evaluation, and ultimately the need to seek out additional testing because the original testing was insufficient. So in the long run, it is wise to find a psychologist who only provides comprehensive and thorough psychological assessment services, and who does not cut corners but instead takes the time necessary to identify the most accurate diagnosis for your child. While the time and financial investment is higher at the outset for this approach, we believe it ultimately saves you time and money, as well as avoids frustration from failed treatment.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about psychological and psychoeducational testing at The Wright Psychology and Learning Center.

Are assessments covered by medical insurance?

In most cases insurance does indeed cover some aspects of psychoeducational testing. However, medical insurance does not cover testing that is educational in nature, such as reading, math, writing and spelling evaluations. At the Wright Psychology and Learning Center, we only provide comprehensive psychoeducational testing that includes cognitive, academic/educational, social, emotional, and behavioral evaluation. Medical insurance typically reimburses for all of those types of evaluation except academic/educational. So, if we are “in-network” with your insurance company, you can expect to have coverage for some, but not all, of the evaluation. The Wright Psychology and Learning Center will bill your insurance for the covered tests, and you will be expected to pay out of pocket for any non-covered tests. We will provide you with an estimated out of pocket amount due prior to beginning your evaluation. If we are “out of network” with your insurance provider, you will be expected to pay our assessment fees out of pocket. However, we always work closely with families to help them obtain the necessary authorizations for assessment and provide claims and paperwork required for filing with their insurance company.

You don’t take my insurance. Why should I come to you instead of getting a referral from my insurance company?

When you are seeking a psychologist to evaluate your child, you should consider the psychologist’s areas of specialty and expertise, along with their approach to psychological assessment, instead of simply choosing a name off of a list of providers who participate with your insurance company. It is an unfortunate reality that, due to severe cuts in reimbursement rates by managed care insurance as well as increasingly time consuming administrative and paperwork demands placed on clinicians, some of the best psychologists in our area do not participate at all with any insurance plans. This allows psychologists to do what’s best for their clients, and not compromise because of low reimbursement rates and arbitrary restrictions on what is covered. At The Wright Psychology and Learning Center, we have chosen to align ourselves only with insurance companies that we feel respect the high quality level of professional service we provide. This means that we participate with only two managed care plans. Because we do not contract with restrictive and low paying insurance companies, we are able to do what’s right for the children we see, not just what’s allowed by managed care. Additionally, we are specialists in the evaluation of Learning Disorders (LD). These include Reading Disorder (Dyslexia), Mathematics Disorder (Dyscalculia), and Disorder of Written Expression (Dysgraphia). These Learning Disorders require a level of specialization that many psychologists don’t have. Our clinicians have extensive training in the evaluation of Learning Disorders, and our evaluation procedures are designed to assess even the most mild presentations of LD. We have heard from many parents that their child has received one or more prior psychological assessments, but their LD was never identified. Going to a specialist from the start will save you the frustration of multiple evaluations and, more importantly, not waste precious time in your child’s learning and development.

How long does the assessment process take?

Our assessments are very thorough and require anywhere from 3-10 hours of direct time spent testing. This time is generally split between 2-3 days to avoid burn out and fatigue. When you call our office you will be scheduled for a parents only consultation/intake session. At this session your clinician will review your concerns and your child’s history and design an assessment battery customized for your child. The testing sessions are generally scheduled 2-4 weeks after the intake appointment. Once the testing is completed, our clinicians go to work scoring and understanding the results. We spend many hours on understanding each assessment. Sometimes, the test results indicate concerns in an area not previously noted and we may ask you to bring your child in for follow up testing. We never want to leave questions unanswered if at all possible. When we feel we have thoroughly evaluated your child we will schedule a feedback/results session for parents only. This session is usually two weeks after the last day of testing. In most cases you will receive your detailed, often 15-25 page, report at the feedback session. If for some reason your report is not completed at the time of feedback it will be mailed to you within two weeks. The entire process from start to finish takes about 4-6 weeks.

Should I have my child evaluated by a commercial learning center?

Evaluations at commercial learning centers can be useful in identifying aspects of a child’s learning strengths and weaknesses, however the evaluations offered at these types of centers are limited in their scope and are never diagnostic. Because only Licensed Psychologists and Licensed Psychological Associates are qualified to administer cognitive/IQ testing, this essential cornerstone to the assessment process is left out (in Kentucky it is illegal for non-Licensed Psychologists/Psychological Associates to do any type of IQ testing. Always ask for the credentials of the person evaluating your child). Additionally, commercial learning centers are not qualified to assess any other problems that may interfere with your child’s learning, such as ADHD, Executive Function deficits, Anxiety, Depression/Mood Disorders, Developmental Delay, Language Disorders and Behavioral Disorder. This means that you may receive recommendations for treatment in an area of learning that will ultimately fail because other key areas were not addressed. We recommend receiving from the start a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation from a Licensed Psychologist or Licensed Psychological Associate who specializes in Learning Disorder assessments. This type of evaluation is not generally offered at commercial learning centers.

I’ve been hearing a lot about “Brain Training” as a way to help my child improve in reading. Does it work?

Brain Training games, software, and even commercial learning centers have recently entered the arena of reading remediation. Unfortunately, the research supporting such programs is limited and doesn’t support long-term gains or improvement once the student has stopped the brain training exercises. When it comes to Dyslexia, modern science has already answered the question “How can we teach people with Dyslexia to read?” Research over the past 30 years has time and time again proven the effectiveness of Orton-Gillingham based instruction. Orton-Gillingham methods are the gold standard in dyslexia remediation. To learn more about the research supporting Orton-Gillingham teaching methods, check out the links below:

www.bartonreading.com www.wrightslaw.com/blog http://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/OGBasedandMSLApproaches.pdf

For more information about the controversial nature of Brain Training approaches, visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities article here:

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/treatments-therapies/cure-ld-therapy-research-train-the-brain-therapies

My child is stuggling with reading, but doesn’t have a diagnosis of Dyslexia. Can he/she still receive tutoring services at The Wright Psychology and Learning Center?

It is not necessary for your child to have a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia in order for him or her to benefit from reading tutoring. Our clinicians meet with each potential tutoring student and family prior to beginning services, and if a recent psychoeducational assessment has not been conducted we may recommend an assessment as a part of your child’s individualized treatment plan. Assessments provide a wealth of information regarding your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses within the academic, social, and emotional realms.

What should I do if I need to cancel or reschedule an appointment?

Please call the office as soon as you become aware of your need to reschedule your appointment. Each appointment time is reserved only for you or your child, and for this reason 24 hours notice is required to cancel or reschedule an existing appointment. Therapy or Intake appointments missed without proper notice for reasons other than illness or emergency are subject to a $45.00 missed appointment fee. If a Psychological Assessment appointment is cancelled with less than one week’s notice, you may be charged $125.00.

Does your practice provide services for adults?

We provide services for adults on a case-by-case basis. We have experience working with college-age young adults and often provide assessment of academic concerns/ADHD in college students. We will accept adult clients with other concerns, as well. Please call us to discuss your specific concerns and to determine if our clinicians are a good professional match for you.

(502) 807-9551