Sometimes diagnoses and treatment plans are not easily determined and further evaluation is necessary. This could be for a child who is struggling in school with unanswered questions about the disability and remediation options. It could also be for an adult or child who has suffered a head injury or medical condition such as a tumor, stroke, or aneurism who now senses some deficits in functioning and wants to get a clearer picture of any damage that may have been caused. Another person who may want an evaluation is an older individual who is experiencing memory loss, inattention, or confusion and wants to know if this is "normal." No matter the issues, Seeking out a neuropsychological evaluation is often a reasonable option.
Evaluations can either be long or short, depending on the referral question and past history of testing. A child who has been tested at school, but about whom questions remain, would most likely not be given the same tests again, but would be given supplemental assessments to better pinpoint the areas of strength and weakness. An individual suffering from a neurological condition such as epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, or others, might have a history of many evaluations done over time to determine if there are losses of functioning and/or the areas affected by the medical condition. Someone coming in for an evaluation who has never been tested before would likely have a more in-depth assessment, taking more hours and utilizing more tests, starting from "Square One," so to speak.
Most evaluations are done over two or three sessions of a few hours each in order to get the face to face testing completed. Then a report is written and shared with the individual and/or family (depending on age and issues), with conclusions and recommendations for remediation, placement, and the like. Payment is typically made with a deposit of approximately half the estimated total cost on the day of the first appointment and the balance once the report is written and discussed. At that time, insurance claim forms will be filled out to file for reimbursement (if applicable). Evaluations can take 10 hours or more for a full evaluation, or as few as 4 or 5 hours if the evaluation is supplementing or updating testing that has already been done. Younger children tend to take less time than adults.
Recommendations are made for future services/therapies, assessments, resources, and various strategies to help build some of the weaker areas and capitalize on the strengths. You will be given copies of the report that you can share with other professionals, school staff, etc.
****It should be noted that while there is only one license in New York State, a generic "Psychologist" license, not all psychologists are qualified to perform all types of evaluations. When reaching out, a psychologist should not be offended if you ask questions about qualifications, experience, education, etc. It is important to find someone who is aware of neuropsychological/medical issues, has access to the appropriate tests, has enough experience with the age group in question, and is a good diagnostician, as the test results and diagnosis will aid in treatment planning and making recommendations. Be sure to ask questions until you feel comfortable that you are getting the best person for the job.*****