SERVICES

PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL EVALUATION

A psychoeducational evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of a student's functioning in areas that impact learning and academic functioning. These areas typically include aptitude, academic skills, and psychosocial adjustment factors. In addition, my evaluations include an assessment of learning and memory, as well as executive functioning. Because of my background in neuropsychology, the evaluation that I provide for students is much more comprehensive and in-depth than the type of standard evaluation typically administered by schools. The following are areas that usually require evaluation:

Aptitude is measured by intelligence tests (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale; Wechsler Individual Scale for Children) which are used to assess verbal and visual reasoning abilities, working memory, processing speed, and a variety of other cognitive abilities.

Learning and memory measures (Wechsler Memory Scale; Children’s Memory Scale; California Verbal Learning Test) are administered in order to better understand a student’s skills and abilities in both verbal and visual learning and memory. This includes working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.

Executive functions refer to a set of higher-order cognitive functions such as planning, cognitive flexibility, initiation and inhibition, and attention. These functions are assessed by a range of neuropsychological tests, many of which are included in the Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System.

Academic skills are measured by instruments that assess a range of academic abilities, including reading, written language, oral expression, and mathematics (Wechsler Individual Achievement Test; Woodcock Johnson, Tests of Achievement). Within each of these academic domains, the student is tested on measures of basic skills development and higher level application and reasoning skills. For example, reading tests assess word decoding, phonetic skills, word identification, fluency/rate and comprehension.

Tests of psychosocial adjustment are used if it appears that a student may be suffering from anxiety, depression, perfectionism, or other emotional factors that may be affecting his or her academic functioning.

A psychoeducational evaluation is often conducted in order to determine whether a specific learning disorder or other condition that affects learning (e.g., ADHD) may be impacting significantly on a student's academic performance. For instance, the presence of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or emotional disorder can result in a great deal of academic frustration and inability for a student to perform at his/her level of potential. A learning disability is diagnosed when assessment results reveal a significant discrepancy (difference) between a student's scores on achievement tests (in reading, mathematics, and/or written language) and his/her educational expectancy range (based upon age, educational background, and intelligence.)

In addition to determining whether a student has a specific disability that impacts upon learning, a psychoeducational evaluation gives an excellent indication of how a student learns best, his or her “learning profile”. When teachers, parents, and students are empowered with this knowledge, they can make adjustments in order to maximize the student's learning potential.

A psychoeducational evaluation would be appropriate in situations where a student continues to experience academic difficulties after various interventions have been attempted (e.g., parent/teacher conferences, tutoring, study skills, behavior modification, etc.) Another situation that would precipitate a referral would be when parents and/or teachers observe major discrepancies over time in academic performance (e.g., from day to day or between subject areas). A more thorough evaluation is also sometimes sought following an evaluation performed by the school, which may not be specific enough to clarify the relevant issues.

For learning professionals (learning specialists, educational therapists, teachers, school and vocational rehabilitation counselors), I can provide psychoeducational and/or neuropsychological testing that can help to identify a client's or student's cognitive and emotional strengths and challenge areas. I can also create specific recommendations for:

• Student IEPs
• Classroom, workplace, and other environmental supports and accommodations
• Strategies to enhance learning and performance in school and at work.

 

NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

A neuropsychological evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of cognitive and behavioral functions, such as attention, language, and memory, using a set of standardized tests and procedures. Sometimes an assessment of emotional, or psychological, functioning is also needed. It includes a clinical history, behavioral observations, and evaluation in the following areas:

• Intellectual Functioning
• Attention and concentration
• Memory and learning
• Problem solving and conceptualization
• Visual-spatial functions
• Language functions
• Sensory-perceptual functions
• Planning and organization
• Emotions, behavior, and personality

A neuropsychological assessment should be considered when cognitive and/or behavioral problems are exhibited, when there is a history of known or suspected brain injury, there is a history of genetic or neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, and in the context of neurological problems such as stroke, dementia, tumors, seizure disorder, etc. A neuropsychological evaluation for attention and learning disorders typically provides for more specific and in-depth assessment than the type of standard psychoeducational evaluation performed by a school district. A neuropsychological evaluation can more accurately assess, and provide information about, the nature and degree of an individual’s cognitive, behavioral, and emotional abilities and disabilities.

The outcome of a neuropsychological evaluation provides a wealth of information about an individual’s functioning. An assessment clarifies diagnosis, provides a profile of strengths and weaknesses to guide rehabilitation, educational, or vocational services, and includes specific recommendations for further support and/or treatment.

For physicians (including neurologists, pediatricians, and primary care physicians), a neuropsychological evaluation can:

• Provide standardized measurement of a client’s cognitive functioning
• Provide differential diagnosis
• Measure cognitive decline and improvement
• Provide assessment of cognitive functioning both prior to and following rehabilitation
• Evaluate treatment effectiveness over time.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

Psychological assessment explores an individual’s psychological issues, identifying ways in which a person experiences emotion, thoughts, relationships, coping methods, and overall psychological functioning. Psychological testing is also an effective means to identify psychiatric symptoms that may be interfering with an individual’s quality of life. Through interviews, questionnaires, and standardized tests, this evaluation identifies psychiatric symptoms and diagnosis, psychological coping, responsiveness to psychological interventions, and personality style. It may be conducted on its own or as a component of a psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluation. A psychological assessment may be indicated in order to:

• Identify and understand the causes of psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, social skills deficits, low frustration tolerance, anger problems, impulse control, mood instability, or poor coping skills
• Identify underlying behavioral and conduct problems
• Provide a clear psychiatric diagnosis in order to aid treatment planning
• Determine eligibility for special education services and/or residential services
• Provide information about response to medication and/or other treatments.

For mental health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and other mental health professionals), I can provide consultative psychological testing that can provide assistance in better understanding your clients’ diagnostic issues and assisting with treatment planning. This type of testing can:

• Identify areas of concern
• Improve your assessment of new clients
• Supplement intake interview with standardized assessments
• Differential diagnosis
• Help clients gain self-knowledge
• Increase client motivation and self-efficacy
• Evaluate treatment effectiveness over time
• Compare clients' performance in a variety of areas against normative statistics
• Provide additional recommendations to supplement your own professional advice.

 

ASSESSMENT APPROACH

Working with children and adults, ages 8 and above, I tailor each assessment to my clients’ concerns. Starting with thorough background questionnaires and interviews, I then use a core set of procedures that are used to develop an initial profile and reveal any areas that need further exploration. These areas can next be explored to the extent necessary to get a complete and detailed picture. This "flexible battery," process-based approach is comprehensive yet individualized to each unique person. I conduct all testing myself and follow up with a detailed report that includes a summary of all previous evaluations, services, education, and treatment, a detailed analysis of the evaluation results and conclusions, and clear recommendations. My goals are to help clients understand the nature of their challenges and to appreciate and build on their strengths.

 

COGMED

Cogmed Working Memory Training is a home-based program that helps people with attention problems by training and increasing their working memory capacity. Working memory is the ability to keep information in your mind for a short time, focus on a task, and remember what to do next. By training your working memory, you will be better able to stay focused, ignore distractions, plan next steps, remember instructions, and start and finish tasks. Candidates for this type of training are children and adults with attention deficits or learning disorders, victims of brain injury or stroke, adults experiencing information overload or the natural effects of aging, and adults wishing to maximize their cognitive efficacy.

The Cogmed program includes an initial interview, a start-up session, 5 weeks of training from home with weekly coaching calls, a wrap-up meeting, 6-month follow-up interview, access to the Cogmed training web, and the Cogmed extension program (12 months). This program is appropriate for preschool children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.

You may also wish to go to the Cogmed website to review published and ongoing scientific research that supports the effectiveness of this program at www.cogmed.com.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


Phone: (415) 257-0702 - License #PSY16162

San Francisco Bay Area Psychoeducational, Neuropsychological and Psychological Testing, Stacey Nelson PhD

Copyright 2008-2010 © Stacey Nelson PhD. All rights reserved.