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The following evaluations have been developed using the latest research findings identifying factors that truly matter.
A psychological evaluation is a mental health assessment ,where a professional, such as a family doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist checks to see if you are experiencing a mental health problem. This evaluation generally involves multiple components, which can include answering questions verbally, receiving a physical test, and completing a questionnaire. It becomes the first line of defense when seeking treatment for mental illness.
For psychologists, an assessment like this helps determine the exact nature and extent of a person’s mental illness. Using a variety of evaluation tools, mental health professionals can gain insight into a person’s personality. At no point in the process is a psychologist judging you, rather, they are working to help you understand and manage any issues or symptoms impacting your life.
Think of these types of assessments as serving the same purpose of medical tests. If you have physical symptoms, for instance, a doctor may order blood work or X-rays to better understand the cause of the symptoms and help inform an effective treatment plan. Psychological evaluations serve the same purpose, as mental health professionals use these tools to measure and observe your behavior to diagnose and treat specific issues.
What to Expect From a Mental Health Assessment
Psychological Evaluations are an important part of mental wellness.
It is important to know that psychological assessments are not one-size-fits-all, and mental health professionals pick and choose specific sets of assessments and tests for each individual.
Mental health assessments may include a variety of components — formal questionnaires, checklists, surveys, interviews, and behavioral observations. Often, the depth of evaluation will depend on the client and what they need assessed.
In general, you can expect it to take between 20 and 90 minutes, depending on the reason behind testing. It can be completed virtually or in-person.
Types of psychological evaluations
Detailed below are just a few of the more common types of psychological evaluation:
Mental health history
You will likely be asked about how long you have experienced certain symptoms, your personal or family history of mental health, and any psychiatric treatment you may have received.
Medical professionals may ask questions about your lifestyle and personal history, to determine the largest sources of stress in your life or any major traumas. For instance, you may be asked about your marital status, occupation, military service, or your childhood.
In this instance, you will likely be asked questions about your symptoms in more detail, specifically around your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It’s also important to know how you have tried to manage them on your own. Your doctor will likely observe your appearance and behavior to help get a sense of your mental health.
This differs slightly from the mental evaluation, as your doctor will gauge your ability to think clearly, recall information, and use sound reasoning. You may be asked to take tests to measure your ability to think clearly, recall information, and use mental reasoning.
In most instances, you may also be asked to complete a self-assessment to help capture your thoughts, emotions, and symptoms before receiving support. You will likely be asked to complete a survey that helps determine your individual therapy needs and preferred communication style. A person can expect to be asked about their current challenges or worries and how they impact their mental and physical health.
Spinal cord stimulators are devices places in the spinal cord to reduce pain in the body. Patients undergo a trial prior to test the effectiveness of the stimulator. Certain psychological factors, though rare, can be contraindicated for a stimulator. Also, certain psychological issues that exacerbate pain, such as severe depression or bipolar disorder, could interfere with the accuracy of the trial, and may need to be treated prior to the trial. This could prevent a false negative trial occurring (negative reading when the device was actually effective).
Intrathecal pain pumps are devices that deliver a small dose of opioids (usually morphine) into the spinal column. The amount of medication is very small but usually more effective than oral medication as it goes directly to the spine. There is a trial of the pump prior to implantation, just as there is with a stimulator. If the trial is successful, there is a decision to go to implantation. Just as with the stimulator, there are psychological issues that are contraindicated for a pain pump. There is also a greater overdose risk with the pump as oral opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol could interact with the intrathecal opioid of the pump and slow a patient’s breathing to a dangerous level. There are also certain psychological factors that may need to be treated prior to the pump trial.
It is standard of care and required by most insurance companies that patients receive a pre-surgical evaluation prior to implantation of these devices. Some physicians have the evaluations prior to the trial and some have them only after a successful trial, depending on preference.
Spinal surgery can consists of less invasive procedures, such as a microdiscectomy, to a multi-level fusion. A psychological spine evaluation could assist in helping determine how well a person would tolerate an invasive spine surgery. There are also certain psychological factors that could limit a person’s successfulness with spine surgery that may need to be treated prior to and/or after surgery.
What to Expect
For your psychological pre-surgical pump/stimulator evaluation, please bring your ID and insurance card with you. You will meet with a health psychologist for a full clinic interview to go over your pain, medical history, and how the pain is affecting your life. You will also complete a series of psychological tests. These are paper pencil tests in our office and there is no time limit. Some of these tests have general psychological questions that may seem unusual. Please just answer them to your best ability. Please bring your reading glasses.
The health psychologist will take the information from talking to you, your psychological testing, and your medical records to compile a psychological pre-surgical pain evaluation. This will include treatment recommendations that will be given to your referring physician. If treatment is recommended, you will be informed by the health psychologist. Treatment usually consist of standard chronic pain psychology and other assistance if needed.
Pre-Bariatric Surgery Evaluation
Bariatric Surgery is a tremendous life change, and we want to make sure you are able to meet its challenges. We also require that you be clean and sober from any addictive drugs.
The pre-surgical psychological evaluation covers a number of issues that pertain to your weight and your decision to have bariatric surgery. The evaluation is one piece of a multi-disciplinary assessment that involves pulling together information gathered from the medical, surgical, nutritional and psychiatric history. Components of the evaluation are outlined below. For example, the psychologist will review your weight and dieting history, identify any psychiatric disorders (with specific attention to disordered eating), assess your understanding of the risks and benefits of surgery, and appraise your motivation, awareness and ability to make the types of changes required for a positive outcome. The goal of the evaluation is to assess-- from a psychosocial perspective –whether there are any barriers that may interfere with your safety and with having a positive adjustment to your surgical procedure.
Components of Pre-Bariatric Psychological Evaluation