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. Her clinical interests are varied and include child and adolescent therapy, TF-CBT, rural psychology, telemental health, sexual and domestic violence, psychological assessment, and mental illness prevention. Dr. Marschall presently works in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she provides individual and family therapy and psychological assessment to children, adolescents, and college students. She also facilitates an art therapy group for adolescents and college students with anxiety and depression. Dr. Amy Marschall is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Telemental Health.

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