What is it?

A psychoeducational assessment is a form of testing that focuses on your personal learning styles and academic abilities. Psychoeducational assessments measure cognitive abilities (e.g., verbal and visual abilities, processing speed, attention, and memory), as well as academic skills (e.g., reading, writing and mathematic skills) and behavioural and social-emotional functioning. These assessments can be particularly helpful if a child has learning challenges, as they provide information about a child’s learning strengths and the areas that need support. Sometimes the assessment leads to a diagnosis, such as a specific learning disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or developmental delay. These assessments may also identify giftedness.

A variety of techniques and tests will be used to help identify your learning strengths and weaknesses. Some of these techniques include; reviewing information about your early childhood, medical history and academic history, as well as using standardized testing to evaluate specific skill levels in domains such as memory, reading, writing and comprehension.

Once all the information has been gathered, the psychologist will prepare a report to compile the findings. A feedback session is arranged and recommendations about next steps will be discussed to decide how best to handle the results in case accommodations must be set in place in a school or workplace setting.

How do I know if I my child needs a Psychoeducational Assessment?

Parents/caregivers may seek this assessment if they have concerns about their child’s academic progress or if their child’s school struggles persist despite early interventions. Sometimes the need for a psychoeducational assessment may be brought to parents’ attention by the child’s teacher or learning support team. As wait times within the schools and hospitals can often be long given the number of students who need them (1+ years), parents may choose to have an assessment done at Saterra Psychological & Counselling Services where wait times are considerably shorter (often 1-3 months). Part or all of the cost of the assessment may be covered by the family’s insurance or extended health benefits (please note that insurance companies often require a referral from a physician).

“Another benefit of a psychoeducational assessment is to be able to set realistic expectations about what is possible for you to achieve in an academic or work setting.”

Why is it beneficial? What are the uses?

Psychoeducational assessments provide information about a child’s intellectual, academic, social-emotional and behavioural functioning. They identify a child’s individual learning strengths and areas of challenge to help guide learning goals, identify effective learning strategies and interventions, and suggest appropriate accommodations. They can help to rule out specific learning disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or developmental delay diagnoses or identify giftedness. Parents often share the assessment report with the child’s school and family physician/pediatrician.

Sometimes people avoid participating in a psychoeducational assessment out of fear of the outcome or fear associated with the process; however, the sooner your needs are assessed and recognized, the sooner accommodations can be made at school or work to maximize your learning style.

Another benefit of a psychoeducational assessment is to be able to set realistic expectations about what is possible for you to achieve in an academic or work setting. This allows you uncover hidden talents or strengths and set goals and expectations that are centred around what qualities come naturally to you.

Types of recommendations: 

Recommendations are based on the individual child’s learning strengths and areas of challenge and often include ideas for treatment, academic intervention, learning strategies, and school accommodations, as appropriate. If warranted, recommendations may include referrals to other services, such as to speech-language pathology (SLP) for communication concerns or to occupational therapy (OT) for fine motor difficulties. 

How it’s applied to the school system: 

The psychoeducational assessment report can be shared with the school’s teachers/learning support team. The assessment information can be used to develop a plan for how best to help the child have a successful academic year. Occasionally, the information from a psychoeducational assessment report gets used to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and/or make choices about the best program for a particular child.

Psychoeducational Assessments Across the Lifespan:

For school-age children and adolescents, the use of psychoeducational assessment, can be beneficial to see if there are any additional strategies that can be used in the classroom, to help the child/adolescent reach their maximum potential. For students that undergo a psychoeducational assessment and are diagnosed with a learning disability or giftedness, this information can be used to develop an individual education plan that fits the needs of the student.

For adults in post-secondary studies or in the workplace, a psychoeducational assessment can be useful to identify areas of challenge and potentially make a diagnosis for a learning disability and/or ADHD. As a student, this diagnosis is beneficial, because it can allow you to communicate with the post-secondary institution and set up accommodations to help you succeed, such as extra time for tests and exams. In the workplace, accommodations can be made to suit your personal needs such as extra time to complete work-related tasks or the use of technology that helps you overcome your areas of challenge.

Conclusion

Psychoeducational assessments are a very useful tool to help identify learning strengths and areas of struggle. They can be used at any age and stage of development to better understand if any accommodations should be put in place in a school or a workplace setting. A major point to note, is that only medical doctors and psychologists are able to diagnose mental health disorders, under Canadian law. For more information, or to book an assessment please see http://www.saterra.ca/psychoeducational-assessments/.

Sources

Brooks, Robert. “Psychoeducational Assessment: A Broader Perspective.” Professional Psychology 10.5 (1979): 708-22. PsycARTICLES. Web. 2 June 2017.

Kamphaus, R. W., Martha D. Petoskey, and Ellen W. Rowe. “Current Trends in Psychological Testing of Children.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice31.2 (2000): 155-64. PsycARTICLES. Web. 2 June 2017.

Shenfield, Dr. Tali. “Psycho-Educational Assessments: Guidelines for Parents.” Child Psychology and Parenting Blog. Advanced Psychology – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog, 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 June 2017.

PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENTS FOR ADULTS (n.d.): n. pag. TEAM Work Cooperative, June 2014. Web. 2 June 2017.

http://apns.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Psychoeducational-Assessments-for-Adults.pdf