Should my child see a psychologist? Many children benefit from working with someone outside of the family when they are having difficulty managing their emotions or their behaviour, are struggling socially or academically, or are dealing with major life events or changes such as separation/divorce, family illness, or loss of a loved one. Children may benefit from sessions that focus on learning strategies to manage their emotions. That said, in some cases, support can be provided primarily to the parents in terms of finding new strategies or interventions that can be tried in the home to help support the child’s development. Parent coaching or consultation can be very helpful in managing typical developmental milestones that are nonetheless challenging- tantrums, sleep issues, sibling rivalry, etc. Our job is to support your family in whatever way makes the most sense and helps you achieve your goal and improves family harmony and relationships.
What should I expect from the first session? The first session is an opportunity for you to meet with the psychologist and above all else, determine if the therapist-client “fit” feels right to you. A psychologist’s tools are only as good as the relationship she has with the child and family and if it doesn’t fit, it won’t work. The first session lasts approximately 60 minutes during which time the psychologist will seek to understand the reason for consultation and the challenges faced by your child/family. Information regarding your child’s developmental, medical, educational history will also be gathered. You and the psychologist will discuss possible interventions to achieve your goals. While every intervention is tailored to meet a particular family’s needs, you will also be able to get a better understanding of the psychologist’s philosophy.
Who should attend the first session? Typically the first session is held with just the parent(s) and the psychologist so that an open and unrestricted discussion can be had. That said, there are times that it is beneficial to have the child/children present for the initial appointment. This can be determined at the time of scheduling the initial appointment.
What do I tell my child about coming to see a psychologist? It is important that information about therapy be conveyed to a child in an honest and developmentally appropriate way. While many parents are tempted to say that the child is going to see a “teacher” or the parent’s “friend”, an honest explanation of the role of a psychologist can provide comfort to a child and maintains trust in the parent-child relationship. Referring to the psychologist as a teacher or friend can be confusing, particularly when it comes to issues of confidentiality, as the psychologist’s role is unique in this respect. A psychologist is someone who helps children, parents, and families feel their best and solve problems. It can be reassuring for a child to know that the psychologist is helping the parents too.
What types of therapy are offered? Depending on the situation, there are several different types of therapy (often called theoretical orientations) used. These may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), family therapy, play therapy, relationship based models (i.e., Interaction Guidance or Child-Parent Psychotherapy). or parent coaching. Many sessions with children focus on skill building related to “emotion regulation”. Sessions help children learn to manage big feelings like anger, worry, sadness, and frustration. Children learn concrete strategies that they can use at home and school.
How much do sessions cost? Therapy/consultation sessions are typically 50 minutes long and the cost ranges from $120 – $150 depending on the clinician. Payment is due at the end of each session and is payable by cash or cheque. Assessment sessions may be booked in longer blocks of time. Fees for assessment depend on the type of assessment, age of the child, and the tests used. As a member of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec, services are typically covered to some extent through private employer health insurance. Receipts are provided at the end of each session for this purpose. Please check with your own insurance provided to determine coverage eligibility.
How long will therapy take? The length of therapy depends on the symptoms presented, the complexity of the problem, and the nature of the situation being addressed. Often parent coaching involves meeting with the psychologist for an initial one or two sessions to develop a plan and a set of skills to implement at home and follow up sessions are held as needed. Improvement in these situations can often be seen very quickly. Other challenges such as anxiety are addressed using CBT, an approach that is solution focused and short term. Some situations are more complex for a number of reasons and require ongoing therapy as we address the many facets of the problem. That said, our belief is that therapy is meant to help improve a situation and as such, you should see some things starting to improve within a few sessions.
What is a psychological / psychoeducational assessment? The term “psychological assessment” can be confusing as it is often used to refer to different aspects of a psychologist’s work. During any work with a client, a psychologist would perform a basic initial assessment which would including the initial interview and collection of relevant history. Based on this information and any additional data from observation or questionnaire, some initial impression or diagnostic conclusions could be drawn and a treatment plan is created with the client/family.
In contrast, a comprehensive psychological assessment or a psychoeducational assessment is a much more detailed evaluation that is typically used to determine the presence of learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intellectual Disorders, etc. Additionally, a comprehensive assessment is often requested when there are a range of difficulties in the home and school environment, such as low academic functioning, difficulty with peers, behavioural problems, attention/memory issues, and a cause of these difficulties is being sought. Assessments can be useful to determine eligibility for special education or early intervention services as well as any accommodations that may be helpful to the child in meeting the educational requirements.
A psychological evaluation is tailored to the needs of the individual but may include the following depending on parent wishes and consent: interviews with parents/children/teachers, observation of a child in a classroom setting, completion of questionnaires by parents, caregivers, educators, and the child/adolescent, standardized measures including assessment of cognitive functioning, academic functioning, memory, attention, executive functioning, language, or social reciprocity.
A detailed report is produced that outlines the relevant history, observations, and results of the assessment including the child’s strengths and needs. Diagnostic conclusions are included as appropriate. Recommendations for home and school are also found in the report. The report belongs to the client/parents and is not shared with any one else without written permission.
See more information about psychoeducational assessments here: http://www.naspcenter.org/principals/nassp_evaluation.html
How long does an assessment take? The length of the assessment depends somewhat on the complexity of the problem. Simple procedures like developmental screening take 1-3 hours. However, a detailed assessment for a more generalized problem typically involves an initial interview, 6-8 hours of direct assessment time with the child, and a feedback session with the parents/family lasting approximately 1 hour. The assessment times are carried out over separate visits, typically lasting approximately 2 hours per session depending on the age and attention span of your child. In addition to the direct assessment time, the remainder of the time includes the “behind the scenes” work including reviewing relevant medical history, school and psychology reports about the child, scoring and interpreting the results of tests and finally formulating the results of the assessment and writing a report of the findings including any possible diagnosis and recommendations. This behind the scenes work is included the standard assessment fee.