What to expect


Psychological assessment is a structured process, designed to answer questions about a person’s behaviors, emotions, and cognitive functioning in a more scientific, detailed, and objective way than clinical judgment alone can provide.  The information revealed by a formal assessment can serve a variety of purposes, but is most commonly used to help make decisions about what is right for a person.  Examples might include identifying appropriate treatment options, recognizing issues that might be interfering with treatment progress, determining appropriate work or school placement, establishing eligibility for benefits or academic accommodations, or clarifying career objectives.  At times, formal assessment may be requested for the purpose of confirming, disconfirming, or adjusting the diagnostic impressions which other professionals have formed.


Regardless of the specific referral question, every examinee has the right to expect an assessment that takes the whole person and his or her circumstances into consideration.  No human being can simply be reduced to a pile of test scores.  Dr. Nelson strives to understand every client from multiple perspectives – cognitive, emotional, social, familial, spiritual, cultural, medical, historical, educational, and aspirational.  Testing results can only be meaningfully interpreted, and useful recommendations can only be made, with all of these unique aspects of a person in mind. 


When meeting Dr. Nelson for an assessment, the appointment will begin with an in-depth clinical interview.  Dr. Nelson will collaborate with you on identifying and clarifying the specific questions that the assessment process will seek to answer.  Records of previous treatment, academic documents, or other historical information may be reviewed. 


The assessment will then move into the formal testing phase.  A number of standardized psychological tests will be selected and administered based upon the referral question(s).  This usually takes several hours, and may require multiple appointments depending on the scope of the evaluation.  Certain types of evaluations may also require that other parties serve as respondents; for example, assessment with children and adolescents often includes having parents and teachers complete standardized rating scales in order to provide information about the young person’s functioning in different settings.


After the interview is complete, formal test administration is concluded, and all testing instruments have been scored and interpreted, Dr. Nelson will compile all of the information and integrate it into a written report.  The assessment report will include a summary of the reason for referral, relevant client history, a description of each test’s results, a summary of the findings written in understandable language, diagnostic impressions (if any), and a number of personalized recommendations based on the findings.  Once the report has been prepared, Dr. Nelson will offer to conduct a feedback session with the client in order to discuss the findings and recommendations, answer any questions, and make referrals to other professionals if appropriate.


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