Frequently Asked Questions about Comprehensive Individualized Assessment for Girls and Teens

Neuropsychological, Cognitive, Educational, and Psychological Testing

1. What is a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment? 

There are many reasons to consider an assessment for yourself or your daughter.  Our Comprehensive Individualized Assessment can include neuropsychological, cognitive, educational, and/or psychological testing, depending on what is needed.  We individualize each assessment protocol to address the particular questions to be answered about you or your daughter. We will discuss with you the types of test instruments we will be using to learn more about you or your daughter, as well as the kinds of recommendations you can expect.

 

2. What is a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment used for?

Comprehensive Individualized Assessment provides information that will help guide you and the professionals (teachers, therapists, etc.) working with you or your daughter. Assessment provides an analysis of strengths and difficulties. The assessment provides information about how you or your daughter can maximize strengths as well as recommendations about the most effective learning environment, communication styles and/or the best remedies or treatment for any challenges faced.

3. When is a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment most useful?

It is sometimes said that psychological assessment cannot find out anything that a good clinician could not find out by talking to someone. This may sometimes be true. However, there are times when assessment can provide information that a clinical interview simply cannot. It is very useful in these situations:

  • When there is not a lot of time.

A good clinician can find out a lot about a person, but it generally takes quite a bit of time to glean the same amount of information that a psychological assessment can obtain in a few sessions. This can be important for many reasons. For example, you may have a child who is not doing well in school, and you want to rectify that as soon as possible, or your child may be acting in ways that are potentially harmful and there is a need to answer some questions quickly to improve the situation.

  • When it is not possible or easy for your daughter to express herself.

This is the case especially with children who struggle with identifying their feelings or expressing themselves. The younger the child, the more difficult these tasks are. In addition, some older children (and adults) are not comfortable or skilled at assessing their problems or describing their inner worlds verbally. Assessment can provide insight into a person’s psychological state and personality structure without the need for that person to be aware of or able to describe their inner world.

  • When there is really no other good way to get the information needed.

This is especially true with areas such as learning style, learning disabilities, and neuropsychological functioning or situations in which your daughter may be facing multiple challenges. Sorting these things out is the job of this type of assessment.

  • When accommodations are needed for school or standardized tests.

Often times, children and young adults with learning differences or difficulty focusing their attention need accommodations in school and on standardized tests in order to do their best or demonstrate their full potential. In these cases assessment with education, psychological and/o neuropsychological assessment tools is generally required by the organizations that publish and administer these standardized tests.  Examples of standardized tests include the SAT, GRE, MCAT or LSAT. A comprehensive test report is generally required in order for students to be eligible for needed accommodations.

3. What if my child doesn’t do well on the tests?

The word “test” brings up thoughts of schools and grades and doing well or poorly. That is not how these “tests” work. There are no right or wrong answers. The tests (which psychologists prefer to call “assessment instruments”) are designed to find out about how you or your child functions. For example, they might provide information about how your daughter is best able to learn, whether she has sufficient coping resources, or how she responds to stress.

4. What are Comprehensive Individualized Assessment sessions like?

There are a vast number of assessment instruments or tests, each designed to look at a different aspect of a person’s functioning or to answer a different type of question. When you or your child comes in for a comprehensive individualized assessment it is often because you; your child’s teacher; or your child’s physician, psychologist, or other health-care provider has questions or concerns which need to be addressed. The psychologist doing the assessment will try to determine what the specific concerns are and will select an appropriate group of instruments (called a test battery) based on that information. These instruments come in a variety of forms. Some are pencil and paper tests in which your daughter will answer lots of True/False questions about herself. Others are more “hands-on” and ask that she organize pictures or work with puzzles. In some, the psychologist will ask lots of questions, or she might be asked to respond to cues on a computer screen or make up stories to go along with pictures she is shown.

5. What are some reasons to have my daughter tested?

There are many reasons for a comprehensive individualized assessment. Some possible reasons are listed below. If you have a question about whether or not you or your daughter should have an assessment completed, don’t hesitate to call and discuss your concerns further.

  • Academic struggles, poor grades despite significant effort
  • Difficulties with paying attention, following directions or completing tasks
  • Difficulty keeping track of assignments, turning in assignments or getting started on activities
  • Disorganization and/or trouble with time management
  • Concerns about a learning disability or ADHD
  • Wanting more information about learning style
  • Clarification of the psychological diagnosis
  • Emotional distress, including depression, anxiety and trauma
  • Clarification of treatment methods and goals
  • Accommodations for the classroom and for standardized tests including the SAT, LSAT, MCAT and GRE.

6. Should I begin or continue my daughter’s therapy while the testing process is going on?

Yes. You, your daughter and her therapist should determine the initial goals of therapy and begin or continue. Your daughter can benefit from her therapy sessions even before the assessment results are available. The process is similar to being treated by a physician: The doctor will begin treating the symptoms and stabilizing the situation before all of the diagnostic information is collected. The diagnostic test results, when available, assist with the fine tuning of the work. This is true in a comprehensive individualized assessment as well.

7. How much does a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment cost?

It depends. There is a considerable range of charges for assessment which depend on the purpose of the tests and whether they involve individual or group administration or administration by computer. Assessments done here are individually administered, and the assessment instruments making up the battery are individually selected for the particular client and situation. Such an assessment provides a comprehensive profile of neurological and cognitive functioning, personality structure, learning style and emotional functioning. This includes

  • A preliminary interview with the client and/or her parents
  • Two or three sessions of 2 to 4 hours each during which the testing is completed
  • Scoring and interpretation of the test information
  • Comprehensive written report with recommendations for school, home, therapy, and other services if applicable
  • A 1 to 2 hour session explaining results and recommendations. Recommendations provide guidance about what can be done to support you and/or your daughter to thrive more at home and at school or work. If your you or your daughter are also in therapy, there will be information helpful to the therapist as well.

Additional charges may apply if significant time is allocated to the review of previous assessment documents or history or to consultation with parents, teachers, or other practitioners involved in the client’s care. So, the best plan is to speak to our assessment team, Dr. Chris Cooper to discuss the goals of the testing and the best plan reaching those goals. Once we have collaborated together on this, we will then be able to discuss the specific costs.

8. Will insurance pay for a Comprehensive Individualized Assessment?

Some insurance will pay for at least a part of the assessment costs. You should contact your insurance company and see what your policy offers. Often insurance companies will not pay unless they have approved the testing prior to it beginning. You should check with them about this. Our policy is to charge you for the assessment, and give you a receipt that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Partial payment (usually half) is expected at the beginning of the testing process, and payment in full by the last session. Credit cards can be used.

 

Dr. Chris Cooper’s qualifications

Dr. Cooper graduated from the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Southern California in 1995. She trained extensively in the areas of personality, cognitive and neuropsychological testing including an assessment clerkship at the LAC+USC Medical Center’s Psychiatric Hospital and an internship at the LAC+USC Medical Center’s Psychiatric Outpatient clinic. In addition, she trained in neuropsychological testing at the USC/Saint Barnabas Senior Center and LAC+USC Medical Center. She has attended numerous courses and seminars in personality testing and especially in the use of the Rorschach Inkblot test.

Dr. Cooper is licensed in both Massachusetts and California. Dr. Cooper is Clinical Director of Assessment Services at the Institute for Girls’ Development and maintains a private practice in Pasadena, California. She has also been employed by Children’s Friend, Inc. of Worcester, Massachusetts to provide psychological assessment of children at that facility several times a year.