Therapeutic assessment: Information sheet for teenagers
Why am I being brought to see you?
Someone in your life (for example your parents, a teacher, a therapist) have asked me to do a psychological assessment with you, so that they can understand you better. There people have questions about you, which they hope I can answer, such as “Why is he so angry all of the time?,” “Does she have a learning disability?,” or “Why do the two of us fight all the time?” (I’ll let you know the specific questions that are being asked about you.) I hope that you will work with me to figure out the answers to these questions. This would mean coming to several appointments, talking about your life, filling out some questionnaires, and doing some different psychological tests together. In addition, if you have questions about yourself and your life, I want to help you to answer those at the same time. At the first appointment, I will ask you what questions you might have. At the end of the assessment (usually within a few weeks), I’ll meet with you privately to talk about the results of the assessment and to answer your questions. Afterwards, I will meet with your parents- or whoever asked for the assessment- to answer their questions. Last, I will write you a letter that tells you what we figured out.
What will I get out of this?
You might learn things about yourself that will help you get what you want with your friends, parents, and other people. Also, if you feel people don’t understand you, maybe I can explain your point of view in a way they can hear it. (Unfortunately, sometimes people listen better when a psychologist says things.) Third, some teenagers feel better about themselves after an assessment because they understand themselves more. Last, you might find it interesting and fun to learn how you compare in your abilities and personality to other kids your age.
What’s the down side of this?
If you decide to do the assessment, it will take up some of your time (usually 4-8 hours, though not all at once) and may mean that you miss school or lose time with friends or doing things after school. It might feel embarrassing to talk about yourself and your problems with a stranger, and you may not want other people to understand you better. Last, there’s always a chance you might learn things about yourself that are upsetting and hard to think about. (If any of these things happen, I hope you’ll let me know, so I can talk about it with you.)
Will you really tell me what you figure out?
I believe that since you are the one doing the assessment, you have the right to know what I figure out. Also, I promise to tell you the results before I tell anyone else. I’ll answer any questions you have until you understand where I got my information and what I am saying about you. And I’ll ask you whether you think the results of the assessment are correct.
Who else will get results from the assessment?
Because you are not legally an adult, your parents or guardian can look at all of my records and know everything I figure out from the assessment. (If there’s something you don’t want them to know, its better not to tell me!) The same is true if a court or a judge has sent you for the assessment. Sometimes after an assessment, I talk to teachers or a therapist about what I have learned, but your parents or guardian would have to give me written permission to do this, and I would certainly want your permission also. Otherwise, I don’t tell anyone anything about you or even that you have ever been to see me. There is one big exception: If you tell me that you have been abused, that you yourself abused someone in the past, or that you are about to hurt yourself or someone else, I am legally required to report this to the appropriate authorities.
Suppose I don’t want to do the assessment?
Tell your parents or guardian, or come check me out. I won’t force you to do an assessment; we won’t proceed unless you are willing. If there are things which turn you off about the whole thing, come and talk to me, and let’s see if we can work it out. If we can’t change what you don’t like, I’ll tell you straight and you can always decide not to go ahead. I’ll even tell whoever wants the assessment that it won’t really work unless you want to do it.
Suppose I say ‘Yes’ and later I want to stop?
Just tell me. Again, I won’t make you do any test you refuse or answer any question you don’t want to answer. And if you get tired on a particular day and want to come back another time, I’m okay with that, and will try to work that out with your parent or guardian.
How do I get started?
If you want to give the assessment a try, just let your parents/guardian know and they’ll set up the first appointment. In the meantime, think about or write down any questions you have about the assessment, or things you want to learn about yourself through the testing. Usually, we can handle about 4 or 5 different questions. Examples of questions teenagers ask are: “Why don’t I have more friends?”, or “Why don’t my parents trust me like they should?”, and “Why am I so bad at math?” If you’re not sure a question is a good one, write it down anyway, and we’ll talk it over when you come to for the first appointment.