How and What I Assess
I regularly assess a full range of issues from “Is my child gifted?” to “How do I help my child cope with their problems?” My assessments are regularly used by parents, schools, attorneys, and pediatricians to precisely determine where the involved adults should be investing their time and resources. It is as important for me to help the child or adolescent feel they are understanding themselves better, feeling more in control, and ultimately finding their potential.
Assessment or evaluation of emotional, behavioral, or learning strengths and gaps is one of the things I am most passionate about and most skilled with. My assessment goal is to help people identify what is blockading people from their potential. You may read about the specialized training and expertise I have in assessment going to Professional Background. Part of my professional mission is to combat trends toward misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis, as I talk about in the Professional Background section.
My style in assessing children, adolescents, and adults is to very carefully tailor the assessment to the needs of the situation. I never use a generic, off-the-shelf protocol. Nothing is more complex than the human personality, and that is something I deeply appreciate. At the same time you want conciseness, and I aim to be thorough and yet concise.
My training and ongoing work includes assessing milder as well as serious conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar depression, obsessive-compulsiveness, anxiety, ADHD, Autism, and Asperger’s syndrome. If someone has a problem that other professionals have assessed, I work closely with those professionals so together we develop a comprehensive but concise understanding and solution.
One of my specialties is in assessing more complex situations that have been conundrums and been highly difficult to solve even after multiple professional attempts. Situations I regularly handle include differentiating highly overlapping problems (PTSD and ADHD) or pinpointing where specific challenges exist because a previous diagnosis was not helpful, such as when Pervasive Developmental Disorder is diagnosed in young children. This is often a vague diagnosis in need of more specificity.
I focus on making sure the assessment I conduct for you has great impact by doing the following:
-Writing a report summary that helps anyone reading it get a nuanced and deeper feel for the person assessed. I find too many reports read like a medical lab report where you don’t learn anything more than what you knew before the assessment began.
-Not just getting descriptions of the problem(s), but using any tools we may need to more precisely identify patterns that lead to more sustainable and healthy solutions.
-Accounting for the need to go beyond diagnosis. A diagnosis is not a solution, it is a category. You need practical recommendations. I focus on providing user friendly and down-to-earth recommendations about what new skill sets a client needs to learn to prevent, manage, and/or better cope with their problems/challenges.
-Recognizing there may not need to be a diagnosis. My ultimate goal is help people reach their potential, not to diagnose. Sometimes, a person can learn new skills and they are never diagnosed with something and that is enough to solve their problem.
-Making sure the assessment results in a complete set of recommendations that will remain valuable to you as you continue addressing any problems far into the future. In this way, you continue to recognize the value of the evaluation well into the future.
-Following up with you to ensure the assessment recommendations have resulted in the impact you wanted. Once people have my do an assessment, I am there for them for the rest of their lives. Often people come back at later times because the interactive relationship we establish is the foundation for later work.
Examples of questions where I use advanced behavioral science tools that increase the precision and impact of my recommendations include the following:
- How can I help my gifted child or teenager get over their test anxiety?
- What medication free approaches are available for my (or my child’s) problems?
- Does my child have a clinical problem? (e.g., Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, etc?
- What evidence-based treatments are available for this problem?
- I want to score better on the MCAT/LSAT, how can I handle my test anxiety and reach my goals?
- Do I have a learning disability?
- What can we as parents do about minimizing the impact of our child’s learning problems?
- Do I have a bipolar condition, and if so, what skills can I learn to manage this with minimal medication?