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Adult Counseling Options


Over the last 20 years I have carried out counseling in Tucson AZ with hundreds of adults using the most evidence-based techniques.  My clients have included Olympic athletes, teachers, physicians, parents, CEOs and military professionals. 

12 Questions to ask any Counselor, Therapist, or Mentor you are thinking of working with 

Focus on skill-building: To be the most inspiring and cost-effective, I help each individual master new skills with activities they engage in between meetings.  Too many psychologists are guilty of idle talk, and not enough focus on efficiently creating real life skill building opportunities. People leave my meetings with various kinds of homework to speed along progress.

More active than the typical counselor or therapist: I focus on measuring our progress meeting to meeting, so you and I can see how you are getting better, versus what still needs to be worked on.  One way I do this is I have you fill out a quick and easy questionnaire before our meeting begins.  This allows you to know I am paying close attention to what is actually going on in your life week to week.  There are so many counselors and therapists these days, but what I find distinguishes the best from the rest is how methodical the counseling is.  Read my blog  “4 Criteria to find a Great therapist” to understand more about my thoughts about how actively I conduct therapy

Goal to unlock full potential: My goal is to help you expand what you see as your full potential. Ultimately, with me you get to the root sources of key issues holding you back from going to your next level of performance.  That way, you can gracefully handle future issues independently and confidently.  Read one of my most viral blogs “10 character flaws that can derail even good people” to see how even non-diagnostic problems commonly impair adults.  

Deep and reliable rudder: Your counseling must be guided by a deep and reliable rudder, or you will receive shallow, money wasting guidance. I have developed a uniquely innovative way of assessing the full array of adult problems, as I discuss below.  Part of my uniqueness is your assessment leads to an actual map which not only reveals key impairing factors, but how those factors relate to each other. 

Feel free to call us to understand the unique depth we go to, because we love to reveal how different we are versus your typical drive by assessment.   We can provide you with a sample report or cognitive map we have created so you see how we go beyond narrow minded diagnosis.  Read my blog “4 signs of great psychological assessment” to understand the depth and reliability of the rudder I craft with you.conducted 

What adult-related assessment does Dr. Brunner do?

In addition to evaluating ADHD, Autism, and Learning Disorders (you can click on each of these to learn more), Dr. Brunner assesses the full array of problems adults experience.

Dr. Brunner is a recognized expert in assessment who, over the last 20 years, has assessed issues including the following:

  • Giftedness (see Gifted & Athletes)
  • Developmental delays
  • Sleep issues (e.g., insomnia, nightmares, night frights)
  • Medically-based problems (e.g., diabetes regimen compliance)
  • Anger, aggression, or volatility
  • Depressiveness
  • Anxiety (Including social and separation anxiety)
  • Phobias
  • Test or performance anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • Obsessive compulsiveness
  • Lack of educational direction. See college guidance.
  • Lack of meaning
  • Poor performance on standardized testing
  • Schizophrenia

Expertise with adult assessment?

A very significant part of Dr. Brunner’s doctoral training and experience in roles as a neuropsychologist, medical psychologist, and crisis psychologist has involved assessing adults. With his focus on helping adults reach their true potential, he has gone on to work with a wide variety of adults including professionals, students, executives, military personnel and parents.

Assessment author and trainer

Dr. Brunner has published numerous peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles discussing best practices in assessment, some of them alongside leading experts. He has helped train psychiatry residents, and given talks at many research institutions regarding issues in assessment. He has been certified as a legal expert in the area of assessment, and has a long track record of conducting adult evaluations at the requests of judges and lawyers.

What problems indicate an adult assessment is necessary?

The adult…

  • is more often sad than happy
  • emotionally shuts down rather than talking about their problems
  • struggles to go to work
  • for students, performs well with homework but does not perform well with tests
  • is regularly oppositional with close loved ones
  • has consistent trouble getting along with peers
  • Is excessively dramatic and or burns through friendships
  • has social awkwardness undermining their ability to maintain relationships
  • upon awakening, looks and feels exhausted
  • low self-esteem and/or generally depressive
  • does not enjoy things they used to enjoy doing
  • has no passions that bring them joy

What can an adult assessment clarify?

  • what set of factors are contributing to the problems
  • what type of psychological tendencies or diagnoses need to be addressed
  • the severity of the symptoms and how to correct them
  • what factors in relationships, family or home environment are contributing to the problem(s)
  • what relationships need more investment or improvement
  • what combination of intervention tactics and techniques need to be used
  • what lifestyle changes that the adult or  family need to make
  • if the adult has any delays or deficits with their cognition that require accommodations through their workplace
  • if the adult has any delays or deficits with their emotional intelligence (EQ).

What are the hidden realities of adult problems and disorders?

After conducting research and practicing in the trenches for over 20 years, we want to share some “insider information” about the camouflaged realities of adult problems:

  • Often an adult’s surface problems (e.g., anxiety) camouflage the root of the problem (e.g., trauma, social conflict, or depression).
  • Some of the most common issues (e.g., anger) are ultimately rooted in different problems that are hidden. An example would be anger problems commonly being based in a problem with anxiety or depression.
  • Many adults are misdiagnosed. It is very common for adults to come into my office to come in with a diagnosis that I find was superficially given. Many people experience what I call a “drive-by evaluation”.
  • Many problems significantly impairing an adult do not fall into a diagnostic category, but are still crippling or weakening the adult’s daily functioning.

How we go beyond generic diagnosis?

Many clinicians narrowly focus on diagnosis and and forget that your experience is individualized to your unique personality. Using our personality-focused diagnostic model, we focus on helping you clearly and confidently grasp exactly how each factor is affecting you, and what strategies will help you the most.

Evidence of expertise: Dr. Brunner has worked closely with many fellow assessment experts over the last 20 years, Including medical doctors, tutors, spouses, teachers and coaches. He is also recognized expert among adult focused attorneys. He is also highly regarded by businesses with whom he has worked to improve employee productivity and fulfillment. 

How do we assess adult problems?

Very methodically and carefully. Too many healthcare practices make you feel like you are on a conveyor belt, where you receive a “drive-by” evaluation. We offer you the opposite experience. We build into our assessment system numerous checks and balances to ensure our ultimate diagnosis, and functional map of the key factors, is accurate. After having evaluated over 1000 people in the last 20 years, we know there is an incredible amount of misdiagnosis. Read my blogs below for more information on this topic.

What are the elements of our assessment process?

  1. Methodically gathering historical information the following categories: family history, relationship history, birth, development, medical, neurological, educational, learning, emotional, behavioral, social, and academic or work performance

  2. Asking you to create a chronological timeline of important events to ensure we understand the life of the person being evaluated as a series of different stages. This is critical to get a nuanced, in-depth understanding for the person we are evaluating

  3. Reviewing this information together during the intake appointment, and beginning to develop hypotheses that we will scientifically review by collecting data.

  4. Interviewing the people who have the most intimate knowledge of the day-to-day functioning of the person being evaluated. Unlike practitioners who only collect information from the person being evaluated, or only their parents, we believe that collecting this additional perspectives is vital to establishing a confident and credible diagnosis.

  5. Choosing a tailored group of measurements that include self-report questionnaires, intelligence or cognitive tests, and personality measures that identify your predominating characteristics

  6. Rigorously testing different hypotheses designed to play devils advocate to test our perception of the situation, and following up with questions to either the person being evaluated or those who know the person best.

  7. Writing a report tailored to the exact needs of the situation. We specialize in customizing your report to address different situations, such as the need for workplace or educational accommodations.

  8. Conducting a feedback meeting in our conference room where we use a dry erase board to visually show you the important factors causing the problems the person being evaluated is experiencing. We call this our cognitive map, and it serves as a user-friendly roadmap. You can take a picture of and always have your roadmap with you for guidance.

  9. During the feedback meeting, we clarify the diagnostic conditions at play, the non-diagnostic but critical factors contributing to problems, and give you bullet-point, user-friendly recommendations, organized into thematic groups. We clarify what professionals can best serve you, and save you the most money and time.

  10. After this feedback meeting, we follow-up with you to make sure that our work has met your expectations, and/or to provide further consultations to make sure our work is resulting in the life changes you are seeking.

Worried you will feel “analyzed”, “tested”, stressed out, or will be misdiagnosed?

Psychological assessment may sound scary – people may wonder, “Will I feel like I’m being tested”, “analyzed”, or “Will this stress me out?”

When adults walk out of my office, they most often feel their time with me was calming, because they feel they are finally on a road to getting better. My goal is to help each adult feel more in control of themselves, so they can reach their True Potential. I use assessment tools that help us identify thoughts and feelings that are affecting you that you may not even be aware of. This will allow you to take control of any hidden, automatic patterns that are dragging you down or making you anxious.

I never tell an adult they are being tested! I consider this assessment process to be “assessment”, not “testing”. No “grades” are given, and adults are never made to feel as if they are being critically evaluated. I measure critical aspects of each adult’s functioning that relate to their problem(s). After the critical aspects of the problem are measured, I sit down with clients and go over the results. I will often use my dry erase board in order to draw a map of how all the important variables relate to each other. That way, clients have a visual roadmap of all of the factors influencing them, and often feel relieved to find out there are solutions.

My process with adults is to first ensure we have a very strong rapport. At the beginning of the intake, before we get started, I focus on addressing any key questions you may have. I have experience developing positive relationships with even seriously disabled adults, or adults who may not wish to undergo evaluation. My style is to be down-to-earth, accepting, and nonjudgmental. For adults who are married, I also welcome them to bring their spouse along if they feel nervous or want some extra support, or feel their spouse can offer critical information.

I always ask each adult to make a list of the problems or questions they want to get answered by my process. In healthcare offices, adults are often used to feeling like they are in a rushed meeting where they are never asked what they want or need to know. This is another place where my practice diverges from traditional medicine; I start off every meeting asking clients what they would like to get from that meeting. This way, we are very practical and strategically-oriented, so by the time you leave the meeting, you feel you have the advice and confidence to make necessary decisions.

Since I also do quite a bit of disability assessment and talent development, I’m very good at helping each adult perform at their very best on any measures of intellectual or cognitive functioning. Because I work with a lot of clients who have significant disabilities, I am highly experienced at customizing the environment so the adult I am working with can perform at their best.

What Does the Feedback Meeting Look Like?

Once the assessment is completed, I sit down with each adult and go over the results in a user-friendly manner where I visually map out how problems relate to each other on my wall-sized dry erase board. Clients LOVE this because together we walk through exactly how problems relate to each other. I also provide a comprehensive but concise list of user-friendly bullet points that together are the plan of action parents can follow to reliably solve the problems.

Still not sure if you want to use my services?

I am happy to share a few example dry erase drawings, or we can send you 3-5 examples of reports (sanitized) I have written so you can see me in action! And remember, I am always willing to get on the phone and talk with you about your situation. Since I have a low-volume, high-quality practice, my focus is make sure that you feel like all your questions have been answered before you make any important decisions.

Read Dr. Brunner’s Adult Assessment Blogs: