Psychological assessments are undertaken for many reasons:

  • Results of an assessment inform a clinical psychologist how best to intervene to facilitate improvement to a perceived difficulty
  • Assessment offers a baseline measure of where the person, family, group or organisation is currently at
  • Assessment can continually be undertaken to monitor change.

Is therapy appropriate and what therapy is best?

Prior to therapy beginning it is important to understand how past, present and perhaps future aspects of a person's life have contributed to their difficulties.  In taking a thorough history of a presenting problem a clinical psychologist can decide with their client the most appropriate way to intervene.

The assessment process can offer great therapeutic value as it is often the first time an individual has talked through their issuesin such depth.  Being offered a framework for understanding those issues can offer great comfort and can sometimes be all that is required.

Assessment can offer people a greater understanding of themselves or can offer others a greater understanding of an individual.  The assessment process will inform whether therapy is appropriate for the presenting difficulty and will indicate what kind of therapy is likely to be most effective.

Is consultation appropriate and what is needed?

Consultation occurs when a clinical psychologist helps to facilitate others to think through their difficulties from a different perspective in order to help them reach the most appropriate solutions.

For example, if an organisation or team instructs a clinical psychologist to help them think through the way their team is currently functioning and what can be implemented to improve team dynamics, an assessment can help individuals think through what it really is they are trying to achieve and whether or not this is realistic given the resources available to them.  From the assessment results a choice of interventions can be recommended if appropriate.

Psychometric Assessment

As part of any assessment process a clinical psychologist may often use psychometric measures.  These are formal (validated by empirical research) tools to investigate certain strengths, weaknesses, traits, thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

This type of assessment is often undertaken to offer understanding of an individual's cognitive functioning.  For example:

  • Intelligence
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Motivation

The Assessment Process

The prospect of talking about your difficulties in a psychological assessment may be quite anxiety provoking.  People may worry about what questions will be asked or how much they really need to share, and also what opinions may be formed of them as a result of the information they discuss.  As a result very often people will try to present themselves in the best possible light.  Please do discuss any concerns that you have with regard to this at the beginning of your appointment.

An assessment can last between one and four hours.  The location of the assessment can be at Dr King's consultation room, in your own home or at the referring agency location.

For Neuropsychological assessments a session may last up to four hours.  On some occasions it will be necessary to undertake the assessment over a few sessions and this will be discussed with you at your initial appointment.

In some complex cases Dr King may wish to see you on more than one occasion.  If this is the case we will arrange further appointments at the first meeting.

The Assessment

The process itself is semi-structured in that everyone that attends will be presented with a series of standard questionnaires, however the most important part of the assessment is that you are given the chance to tell your story.  On some occasions Dr King may have had prior information on you presented from a third party if you have been referred by another agency.  If this is the case this will be acknowledged with you.  However, it is still important to hear about the situation you are in from your own perspective.

Once you have begun to tell your story this may suggest that some more specific questionnaires may be appropriate for you to fill in and this will be discussed with you.  It will always be explained to you why it is thought appropriate that you fill out any measures and you will be given full instructions on how to complete any measures that you feel uncomfortable with.

If you have hearing or visual difficulties the assessment process can be adapted to accomodate your particular needs with prior preparation.  It is important to discuss these needs when you make your initial appointment.  Similarly if English is not your first language an interpreter can be sourced with prior arrangement.

At the end of the session you will be able to add anything else you feel is important that you have not been asked directly about.

Confidentiality

If your assessment is for therapy/consultation and you have self-referred for the appointment, then what we discuss in your assessment will stay within the room.  However, if you disclose that you have plans to seriously harm yourself or others then other agencies will be informed.

In a legal assessment these boundaries of confidentiality are different.  Anything that you say can be reported.

Dr King keeps clinical notes in a secure place for fifteen years following the assessment.  Dr King cannot be held responsible if any other agency who is in receipt of a report of the assessment process discloses the content.  On most occasions the assessment report will be discussed with you prior to sending if a third party is involved.  However, in circumstances of imminent risk to yourself or others this may not always be appropriate or possible.  We also cannot be held responsible if a court discloses information gathered during the course of a psychological assessment.

The Written Report

An assessment report will be forwarded to either yourself, or yourself and the referring agency within fourteen days of your last appointment.  If you have not had the opportunity to discuss the content of the report within an assessment session (e.g. your assessment was only one session) then you may have some questions with regard to the content or may feel that there are important omissions.  If this is the case please call to discuss your concerns.  It may not always be possible to change the contect of the report but an addendum report can outline the concerns you have addressed with Dr King's subsequent responses.