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What happens during a psychological assessment?

a psychological evaluation is the first

step in receiving treatment an

evaluation will help your psychologist

understand the nature and the severity

of your symptoms determine the correct

diagnosis and make informed

recommendations about treatment options

the most common assessment technique is

called a clinical interview and this

takes approximately 50 minutes which is

also the length of a typical treatment

session during the clinical interview

your psychologist will ask you about the

challenges or symptoms that you've been

experiencing your psychologist will want

to get a sense of how well you're

functioning in different areas of your

life

including at home at work at school and

in your personal relationships you will

be asked questions about the type of

stressors you might be experiencing as

well as any personality traits or

behaviors or emotional problems that

might be contributing to your current

difficulties

the underlying cause of the person's

difficulties is not always clear for

example if you're experiencing

significant changes in your mood or mood

swings this can be caused by a host of

conditions including depression and

anxiety disorder bipolar disorder or

borderline personality disorder to name

a few when the underlying reason for

your symptoms is not clear your

psychologist may recommend a more formal

assessment process this type of

assessment generally takes two to four

hours depending on your needs it

involves completing a series of

questionnaires that will inquire about

your symptoms your psychologist will

then administer something called the

structured clinical interview for the

DSM this is basically a semi structured

diagnostic interview that allows your

clinician to make specific diagnosis of

major mental health disorders like

depression or bipolar disorder for

example as well as personality disorders

which our behavior patterns are

associated with difficulties in a

person's personal social and

occupational life whether you are

undergoing an informal clinical

interview or you're receiving a more

structured assessment the evaluation

will help ensure that you receive

treatment that is specifically tailored

to your needs in most cases the

psychologist who performs your

evaluation will also provide treatment

however there may be instances when your

psychologist may refer you to another

specialist for treatment

there are several things you can do to

prepare for your psychological

evaluation first take note of the

symptoms that you've been experiencing

including examples of how your symptoms

of interfere with your day-to-day life

for example if you experience panic

attacks you might want to consider

describing what you experience during a

panic attack how often your panic

attacks occur and the triggers that seem

to bring on the attacks second if you

have been prescribed any medication or

if you take any recreational drugs it's

helpful to tell your psychologist which

substances you are taking and how it has

affected the way in which you experience

your symptoms if you've had previous

therapy tell your evaluating therapist

what you found helpful or unhelpful so

that they can tailor their approach and

recommendations to best meet your needs

and finally it's a great idea to come to

the evaluation with a sense of the goals

that you hope to achieve during

treatment