Educational Testing and Psychotherapy
San Francisco, CA
Phone: (415) 577 - 4750

FAQs

Learning Disabilities Testing / Educational Testing

Psychotherapy

Psychological Testing

Learning Disabilities Testing

Learning disabilities testing is also called an Educational Evaluation or a Psychoeducational Evaluation. This type of evaluation often includes an assessment of whether an individual has an attention problems indicative of an attention deficit disorder.

What is learning disabilities testing?

This is a process which includes clarifying past successes and challenges in school, administering certain ‘tests’ in my office, and writing up a detailed report.

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How long will it take to test for a learning disability?

The testing process usually takes 2 sessions of about 3 hours each.

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When will I get the results?

Once the testing is completed, and we’ve gathered information about your school history, it takes me about 2-3 weeks to analyze and write up the results. You will come back in and we will go over the results. You will receive a detailed report which is usually 15-20 pages long.

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How will learning disabilities testing (otherwise known as a psychoeducational evaluation) help me/my child?

  1. The testing process will help to clarify exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are as they relate to learning and school work. Once you understand these you can work with them more directly.
  2. The testing process usually provides relief because it typically helps clarify that you are smart and capable, but have a learning disability which makes it difficult for you to fully demonstrate your knowledge in a traditional school manner.
  3. If a learning weakness is substantiated, you will be entitled to academic accommodations, such as extra time on tests, testing in a separate quiet room, access to additional learning materials such as books on tape, and access to any learning center or specialist at your school.
  4. If a learning disability is identified you will be entitled to apply for accommodations on high stakes testing such as the SAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and licensing boards of various disciplines.

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Who can do learning disabilities and/or ADHD testing?

Psychologists, neuropsychologists, school psychologists, and educational therapists (Masters level professionals) can conduct this type of testing. However, not all of these professionals are versed and competent in this type of testing. In order to be competent in this type of testing the evaluator should have advanced training, years of experience, and supervision, in the area of learning disabilities testing.

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Why won’t health insurance pay for learning disabilities testing?

Nearly all health insurance plans exclude coverage for Educational Evaluations. This is due to the fact that minors are legally entitled to evaluations through the public school system, even if the child attends a private school. The challenge with going through the public school system is that they are often back logged with evaluations, and have more stringent standards about who qualifies to be evaluated, as well as who actually ‘qualifies’ as learning disabled.

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What are some of the most common learning disorders which are identified by an educational evaluation?

  1. A reading disorder, otherwise known as dyslexia, is one of the most common learning disorders. Recent studies show that 1 in 5 school age children has some significant difficulty learning to read. Prevalence rates in the population indicate that about 4 percent of the population has a reading disorder/dyslexia.
  2. ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (words which can be used interchangeably) is another condition which often causes impairment in optimal school functioning. In bright individuals it is not uncommon to first diagnose this condition later in life, such as in late adolescence or even adulthood.
  3. A language disorder is another relatively common type of learning disorder which reflects difficulty expressing one’s thoughts either verbally and/or in writing.
  4. A writing disorder is present when a bright and capable student has excessive difficulty expressing thoughts on paper. This person can often verbalize ideas without a problem, but when asked to write them down has difficulty getting started, organizing, and fully expressing ideas. Individuals with this condition often have sloppy penmanship as well.
  5. A math disorder exists when a capable student is unable to master computation and/or math concepts, despite average intelligence, and remediation. Approximately 1-2 percent of students has a true math disorder. Individuals who have dyslexia are more likely to have math disorder.

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What are some of the common signs of a learning disorder?

  1. very slow rate of reading
  2. difficulty finishing tests
  3. can’t stay focused very long on assigned reading
  4. frequent ‘tip of the tongue’ phenomenon, get tongue-tied, can’t speak under pressure
  5. excruciating difficulty writing, particularly when under a deadline
  6. seems to take twice as long as it should to complete assignments
  7. seem to work twice as hard as your peers, and still don’t get great results
  8. hate to read out loud in front of others
  9. can’t pronounce new words well
  10. never able to really memorize multiplication tables
  11. still count on your fingers
  12. you feel insecure or embarrassed about your school abilities
  13. you feel like you’re not a success as a student despite your best effort
  14. you just can’t seem to learn a foreign language
  15. messy handwriting despite good effort

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What if I find out that I do NOT have a learning disability?

If the testing does not substantiate a learning disability it should still help to clarify why you are struggling in school. It may be due to emotional factors, a poor fit with your school, or a normal delay in cognitive growth and maturation. When trying to figure out what is causing difficulty in school or learning, it can be just as important to rule out factors, such as a learning disability, as it is to determine what exactly the problem is.

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Psychotherapy

How long does psychotherapy last –weeks, months, years?

The duration of therapy is highly variable. The average number of sessions for individuals in my practice is approximately 10-16. It could be many more if you are attempting to deal with lifelong issues or change deeply entrenched behaviors or emotions. You will likely feel significant relief from emotional symptoms within just a few sessions, but lasting change takes a bit longer. Lasting change for significant problems may well take over a year.

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How often will we meet?

We will meet one time per week for the first several months. After several sessions, and after we’ve made substantial progress, it is possible to cut back to once every other week. I rarely suggest meeting more than once per week.

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How do I know if the therapy is working?

You will feel better, and report a decrease in the feelings or symptoms that caused you to come in. You will be better able to identify the cause of your feelings, and will have strategies to cope with them more effectively. Sometimes, however, you may feel more distressed when you start therapy because you are dealing directly with the problems that brought you in. This should not last, and if it does, you should tell me about this as soon as possible.

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Will I have to do any ‘homework’ between sessions?

I will make suggestions for things you can work on between sessions, in order to expedite change. Therapy works best if you actively attempt to apply what you learn in sessions, throughout your week.

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Psychological Testing

What is psychological testing?

Psychological testing is actually a process which includes the use of ‘standardized tests’ as well as a review of symptoms and history. These standardized tests are based upon normative behavior patterns for the ‘average person,’ or upon the behavior of individuals who have certain problems –i.e., attention deficit disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder. These ‘tests’ are not like typical tests where there are right and wrong answers. These tests require the individual to answer questions, talk about perceptions about pictures, and complete questionnaires.

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Why is it useful to do psychological testing?

Psychological testing is useful for many reasons. First of all, it is often an expedient way to find out the answer to certain diagnostic questions, such as whether an individual has an attention deficit disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder. Secondly, the questions on these tests are not always obvious, which helps to ascertain a genuine outcome. For example, teenagers do not always want to admit when they feel depressed, but psychological tests can sometimes reveal that they may in fact be experiencing a depression which is beyond their awareness. Finally, psychological test results are compared against the overall population of particular age groups, which helps to determine whether an individual’s behavior or symptoms are in fact ‘normal,’ or whether they are indicative of a disorder.

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What ages are you competent to test for, Dr. Waterworth?

I have conducted hundreds of psychological evaluations with adolescents and young and middle aged adults. I am experienced in testing individuals who range in age from 12-55 years.

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