© 2014 Treehouse Psychology.        News

DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENT:

Every new patient to Treehouse is seen for a diagnostic assessment, which is also known as an intake assessment. During a diagnostic assessment, the clinician interviews the child and family to gather information about the current concerns for the child including frequency and duration of symptoms, the child’s life situation, and impact of symptoms on overall functioning. The clinician also gathers information regarding developmental, medical, school and psychosocial history. The purpose of the diagnostic assessment is to determine if more information is needed to understand the child’s symptoms and whether a mental health condition or specific disorder can be diagnosed. Parents and the child may be asked to complete questionnaires. After the appointment, the clinician will determine whether a mental health diagnosis can be made and recommendations regarding treatment, further testing or other needed services are shared in a feedback session and full report.

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY (CBT):

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy). The child or adolescent will work with a mental health therapist or psychologist in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking patterns so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.

CBT can be a very helpful tool in treating mental health disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an eating disorder. But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition. It can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.

 

PARENTING SUPPORT AND FAMILY THERAPY:

Raising a child can be difficult for many reasons. Caring for a child, especially a younger child, can take up a significant amount of time, and it may be challenging to maintain strong relationships with a spouse or romantic partner, or with friends. Many parents face financial challenges or find it difficult to coordinate schedules and arrange child care. A parent who stays home with a child or children may feel overworked in the home and resent the other parent for working outside the home, which can put strain on a partnership. Parenting is also often physically demanding, and many report insufficient sleep.

Parenting may become even more difficult when a child exhibits signs of a behavioral challenge, physical or intellectual disability, or mental or physical illness. It may be especially difficult to cope when a child who requires extensive medical treatment or other extra care is not the only child in the home, and parents may find it difficult to give all children equal amounts of attention. This may lead some parents to experience guilt along with greater levels of stress.Research has shown when parents are not united, do not communicate well, or otherwise send confusing messages to children, it may be difficult for children to understand what is expected of them. The child may react to this inconsistency with misbehavior, creating further challenges for parents. Thus, child

psychologists and other specialists emphasize the importance of presenting a cohesive parenting team.

Parenting support and therapy at Treehouse helps parents to explore the ways in which their own behavior or responses to their children may be ineffective, and/or the ways in which their child’s personality and temperament or specific mental or behavioral challenges can be effectively managed. Parenting support provides parents with new or different approaches in responding to or managing a child’s behavior, evidence-based behavioral management strategies, and general advice and support. Family therapy may also be effective for parents or siblings in learning ways to handle conflict and relationships challenges.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION:

The purpose of a psychological evaluation is to better understand an individual’s mental health functioning, behavior, emotions and personality. A combination of techniques are used depending on the age of the individual and the identified problem(s). For younger children, projective techniques that include drawings, looking at pictures and telling stories is typically used. The individual will be interviewed regarding their problems, and for younger children, the parent will be asked to complete questionnaires. Children who are school-age or older may be administered a series of measures that assess cognitive functioning/intelligence, academic functioning, adaptive/life skills, mood and behavior. At Treehouse Psychology, a flexible approach is used, with the tests selected depending on the age of the child, their capabilities and the current concerns/problems. A feedback session with parents to share findings is offered, and a full report will follow.

 

NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT:

Neuropsychology is concerned with relationships between the brain and behavior. Neuropsychologists conduct evaluations to assess behavioral and cognitive changes resulting from central nervous system disease or injury. A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how one's brain functions, which indirectly yields information about the structural and functional integrity of the brain. The neuropsychological evaluation involves an interview and the administration of tests by the neuropsychologist. Patients may be asked to complete questionnaires as well, but the majority of the tests require administration of specific tests by a neuropsychologist or trained, skilled psychometrist. In younger children, assessment is typically play-based and involves looking at pictures, completing puzzles and drawing and writing.

Neuropsychological tests evaluate functioning in a number of areas including: intelligence, executive functions (such as planning, abstraction, conceptualization), attention, memory, language, perception, sensorimotor functions, motivation, mood state and emotion, quality of life, and personality styles. The areas addressed in an individual's evaluation are determined by the referral question, patient complaints and symptoms, and observations made during interview and test administration.

A complete evaluation generally takes between two and five hours to complete, but may take longer depending on the complexity of the issues to be addressed by the

evaluation and the patient's condition (for example, fatigue, confusion, and motor slowing can extend the time required for an evaluation). Occasionally, it is necessary to complete the evaluation over two or more sessions. In general, the clinician attempts to elicit the patient's best possible performance under optimal conditions.

Neuropsychological evaluations document patterns of strengths and weakness among cognitive and behavioral functions, but is more specifically designed for individuals for whom brain injury or disease is suspected, or when there has been a change in mental status. It is not needed for all conditions or concerns. Some reasons why a neuropsychological evaluation may be recommended include:

  • traumatic brain injury or concussion

  • prenatal exposure to drugs, alcohol or toxins

  • birth injury

  • genetic condition

  • medical disease or condition known to affect the brain

  • trauma involving deprivation of oxygen to the brain

  • prematurity or developmental delays

  • history of substance abuse or chemical dependency

  • sudden changes in mental status

  • pre or post cancer treatment

  • metabolic disorders

  • neurofibromatosis

  • lead poisoning in childhood

  • sickle cell disease