Psychological Evaluation 101: What Is A Referral Question?

Seeking support for your mental health can be overwhelming and scary. The goal of a psychological evaluation is to answer a question, and finding the right provider to complete the evaluation starts with knowing what that question is.

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The referral question is what you hope to have answered following the evaluation. Referral questions can be specific to a diagnosis (“Do I have ADHD?”) or about how your mental health impacts your life (“Do I need a supportive living environment?”). They can also be more general (“I have symptoms of mental illness and I want to know what my diagnosis is”). They can also have to do with your referral source (“My doctor wants more information about my symptoms before prescribing medication”).

It can help to ask yourself: What do I want to know as a result of this evaluation that I don’t know now?

In my own practice, I do evaluations for ADHD, Autism, mood disorders, anxiety, and learning disorders, but I don’t do custody evaluations, neuropsychological assessments, or forensic assessments. Evaluations are so different from each other, and it’s impossible to be fully competent in everything!

You don’t need to go in knowing what measures you want done or the clinical name for the type of assessment you’re looking for, but if you know your referral question, providers can know who is the best fit to tell you what you need to know.

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. She completed her internship at the National Psychology Training Consortium with specializations in assessment and rural mental health. Currently, she specializes in trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming care, and she is certified in telemental health. Dr. Marschall runs a private practice, RMH Therapy, where she provides individual and family therapy as well as psychological assessments across the lifespan. Dr. Amy Marschall is an author and professional speaker.

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