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Assessment & Therapy Services
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”
What is assessment? Assessment (also called testing) is an in-depth process of working to understand an individual or family system and answer the questions they have about themselves, their strengths, and their challenges. My top priority in the assessment process is that it would be useful to the individuals and families I am working with. Of course, assessment cannot guarantee a particular result or diagnosis, but we can ask about much more than diagnosis in the assessment process. So, no matter the results, you will always receive feedback about the assessment process and recommendations about how to go forward in your life.
What does the assessment process entail? The assessment process can take a couple of months to complete and is quite in-depth. First, we will meet for a consultation appointment, lasting 45-60 minutes, depending on individual factors. During this session, we will get to know each other and identify your questions and needs for the assessment process. During the consultation appointment, we will schedule assessment and feedback/discussion sessions. A few weeks after the completion of the assessment, we will meet to go over the results and collaboratively form a plan for how to use the information from the assessment going forward. If your child is being assessed, he or she will sometimes be present during the feedback/discussion sessions. We will discuss this during the assessment sessions.
Do you take insurance for assessment? The answer is, again, a tentative, "yes." We do work with many insurance plans for assessment, including Wellmark/Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Cigna, Medicare, and several others. We are not currently working with United Healthcare or any of the Medicaid community plans or MCO's. It's important to know that assessment is often subject to authorization by your insurance company, which means they may or may not approve it, meaning they may not pay for the assessment. Additionally, assessment services often go toward your deductible, so please keep that in mind. We will do everything we can to make sure that we get authorization and that your services will be covered, but some insurance companies have policies that limit what is covered. If you want or need to pay out of pocket for some or all of your assessment, we can work with you to create an opportunity to pay in installments over the course of the assessment.
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What can you assess for? There are many types of assessment. I use collaborative/therapeutic assessment as my foundational approach, even for more traditional assessments. In terms of what we can assess for, I can usually look at the following concerns through the assessment process: attention differences and difficulties, mood or anxiety concerns, social or relationship challenges, behavioral differences and difficulties, learning differences and difficulties, giftedness, twice exceptionality, autism, neurodivergence, personality styles and patterns, and some types of memory concerns. I do not do any forensic, court-ordered, custody, or court-related assessment.
*Learning Differences and Disabilities - There are many different things that may get in the way of learning. Testing can help to identify these difficulties and provide suggestions for accommodating them. Individual and/or family therapy and consultation can also help in many ways. I provide services to help individuals and families deal with learning disabilities and difficulties such as developing strategies for coping with frustration in the learning process, supporting students and parents in navigating the education system, and advocating for students' rights. I also provide consultation with educators to better meet the needs of their students with learning difficulties and disorders.
*Cognitive Testing - We might utilize cognitive testing/assessment measures to observe general abilities or specific aspects of intellectual functioning, and this is often included with other types of testing (for example: learning, neurodivergence, or attention concerns). It can be helpful to have this information to identify an individual's tools for learning as well as strengths and challenge areas. Verbal and nonverbal cognitive functioning can impact how a person experiences many parts of life, including emotions and relationships; thus, as I mentioned above, this is often an important part of many types of testing.
*Educational Testing - Learning is a complex process. Educational testing can help answer questions about what gets in the way of learning and may address attention difficulties, processing differences and difficulties (ex: dyslexia or autism spectrum symptoms), test anxiety, and specific learning disorders (ex: reading, math, writing). Because learning is a complex process, educational assessment with me includes many facets that provide helpful information about how a person learns. Educational testing may include tests for cognitive, achievement/educational, attention, and emotional functioning, depending on an individual's needs, strengths, concerns, and symptoms.
*Diagnostic/Psychological Testing - Psychological or diagnostic testing can help to clarify diagnosis and direct people's plans for therapy. This type of testing may also help people who feel "stuck" in their current treatment (ex: therapy or medication). Because this type of testing can address many different kinds of concerns, including mood or anxiety symptoms, personality styles or disorders, etc. we will spend time (typically 1-2 sessions) getting to know you before the testing, so we can work to answer your questions in the process.
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What type of assessment(s) does Dr. Brittain use? Overall, Dr. Brittain uses an approach called Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment (C/TA) where she and the client/family work as a team to answer the questions that are brought in for the assessment process. This collaborative approach tends to be a really positive experience for children, adolescents, and adults and can help people feel more empowered and less "under a microscope." The goal of C/TA is never to find things "wrong" with people but to help people understand themselves and their family members better so they can have a life that's closer to the life they want to have. For more information about C/TA, check out www.therapeuticassessment.com . Within this framework, Dr. Brittain can select any number of specific assessments that will meet your/your family member's needs to answer your assessment questions. Dr. Brittain does not do any assessment that involves the court system.
How long does an assessment take? The assessment process can be a bit lengthy. We meet with clients once for a consultation and then conduct assessment/testing sessions. The amount of time spent on the assessment/testing sessions depends on the questions clients have for the process, the client’s age, and the pace that works well for the client (usually 2-4 appointments for 2-4 hours in length). We then meet twice to go over the results, answer questions, and make recommendations. From the initial consultation appointment, the process usually takes 4-8 weeks.
How much does assessment cost? The cost of assessment varies. Sometimes insurance covers these services, in which case your cost would be your co-pay or co-insurance. Some insurance companies do not cover assessment, in which case the cost depends on the amount of time spent on the assessment, which will be discussed with you when you schedule. We will attempt to provide an estimate of how much the assessment will cost whether or not you use insurance, but please know that insurance companies sometimes cover services in unpredictable ways, so it is truly our best estimate and not a guarantee of the cost. Some individuals and families choose not to use insurance for assessment, in which case, you would pay out of pocket for the services. As we decide what your assessment needs are, we will also discuss the cost of the process. Because I also contract with insurance companies, I am not able to offer sliding-scale services at this time.
Does Dr. Brittain do therapy? Dr. Brittain is not currently offering therapy services. To find a therapy provider, contact your insurance company or your primary care provider to get a referral.
What is therapy? Therapy is a process by which people can work through their emotional, behavioral, and relational difficulties. Therapy begins with building a secure, healthy relationship between the therapist and the client, and then we work from there to address whatever concerns you may be having. Depending on what you are struggling with, therapy may look very different, but therapy can be very helpful for many kinds of concerns such as family conflict, marriage difficulties, relationship problems, depressed mood, anxiety, attention difficulties, impulse control problems, stress management, parenting, feeling overwhelmed, substance use, difficulties with coping, and many more concerns.
Is therapy helpful for everyone? There are many things that therapy can be helpful for, but it may not be for everyone. First, the individual/couple/family has to be ready, willing, and able to make change. This may be a slow process, but there may be factors that get in the way of a person's readiness, willingness, and ability to make change. We have to respect that therapy may not be as helpful if there are things getting in the way. For example, it would not be possible to run a marathon with a broken foot. You may need to wait until a better time for therapy to help. Also, there are some things therapy may not be able to help with, although this is pretty rare. If therapy would not be helpful for your concerns, a clinician should be very honest with you about that and let you know what else might be helpful for you going forward. Additionally, sometimes people need something different from what a particular clinician can offer in therapy. This does not mean that said clinician doesn't want to work with you, but that the clinician wants everyone to get the best care possible. For example, sometimes substance use difficulties are best treated in a different type of setting for the most effective treatment. It is most ethical and appropriate for a clinician to refer you elsewhere if your concerns are likely to respond best to something other than the care they can offer you. So, this may be frustrating, but it's actually really good care.