Testing, Diagnosis & Psychotherapy

*Note: I do not do educational evaluations used for legal purposes. (eg.IEE, child custody).

Traditionally, there are three steps to clinical intervention: assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

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Testing often serves two distinct purposes, and techniques range from clinical interviewing to complex psychometric testing.

First, thorough testing is often an indispensable part of accurate diagnosis and treatment. Before we can begin working collaboratively on your problem, we must ensure that we understand it as completely as possible. Assessments in the service of psychotherapy provide information about your symptoms and coping strengths, and assist in defining the most effective intervention. You may be surprised to discover that many other people have dealt with problems similar to yours, and an accurate assessment may lead to proven treatments. Also, re-assessment is often utilized to promote quality assurance (i.e., identifying progress or regression in treatment so that adjustments can be made).

Second, assessments can be performed in the service of providing pure data for purposes other than psychotherapy. Clinical psychologists are trained to perform cognitive and personality testing, and often perform these services under contract with private or government agencies. For example, a Human Resources department may hire a psychologist to help determine a person’s suitability for a critical job (e.g., police officer or airline pilot). Another example is identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses in support of sound Individual Education Plan (IEP) recommendations. Please ask about our testing service for more information.

Diagnosis involves assigning a medical term to a recognized mental health or learning challenge.  Such labels can be useful tools. For example, a diagnosis provides relief to families by identifying what type of problem is occurring (e.g., Alzheimer’s Dementia), linking scientific research to the treatment of a specific disorder (e.g., Major Depressive Disorder), and connecting clients to community resources (e.g., special education). While diagnoses can be useful, there are times when they are not appropriate (e.g., difficulty co-parenting after divorce). New Leaves Clinic psychologists are careful to apply diagnostic labels only when needed.

Psychotherapy is a very broad term. It encompasses a wide range of techniques intended to:  (a) reduce symptoms, while (b) improving your ability to function successfully in the world.  At its most basic, psychotherapy involves a supportive, ongoing relationship between you and your doctor for the purpose of meeting your goals. Within this framework, psychologists provide specific, structured, research-based interventions to reduce the symptoms of identified mental health disorders (e.g., Generalized Anxiety Disorder).  Simultaneously, psychologists provide mental health education, coaching and mentorship to help you achieve long-term stability (e.g., self-realization). Because effective treatments are many, New Leaves Clinic pursues reasoned and innovative approaches to mental health. For example, we may consider bibliotherapy, where a psychologist assists a client in successfully completing a favorite self-help book. In short, New Leaves Clinic psychologists are familiar with many techniques, and are dedicated to working jointly with you to ensure that the best psychotherapy model is applied to your unique situation.