FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions and Answers about therapy, counseling, psychological assessments, insurance, and how to prepare for your appointment with Dr. Dohrenwend.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our FAQs or don’t know what to ask, then contact us to find out how we can help.

What is a Psychoeducational or Psychological Assessment?

These are terms used to describe comprehensive evaluations which help identify a full range of capabilities and characteristics that impact cognition, behavior and emotions. The purpose of an assessment is often to offer clarity about a diagnosis, to more fully understand cognitive, learning or emotional qualities or to provide direction for treatment planning and recommendations. These evaluations also serve as a “baseline” measure from which to compare future performance. This can be helpful to determine if improvements have been made and if current interventions and accommodations have been successful. Though the the terms “psychoeducational” and “psychological” assessment are often used interchangeably, a few distinctions can be made.

Psychoeducational Assessments are typically used to assess cognition, memory, attention, executing functioning, motor coordination and social and interpersonal functioning, They can also identify learning strengths and weaknesses, help us to better understand behavioral tendencies or offer clarity about a learning disorder or diagnosis. They also assist with determining appropriate accommodations and guiding placement and intervention decisions. Recommendations and treatment plans based on psychoedcuational assessments ensure that each student is provided with the services needed in order to reach his or her full potential.

Psychological Assessments focus on personality and behavioral characteristics. These types of assessments may be used to offer clarity about a mental health diagnosis or identify the presence of certain tendencies. For example, a psychological assessment may help identify symptoms of depression, anxiety or OCD, or distinguish between diagnoses such as depression and bipolar disorder. These types of psychological assessments can also be helpful when creating a treatment plan for individual therapy.

What are the steps that are involved in an assessment?

  1. Initial Intake: 1 hour session with client, or parent(s) if testing a minor.
  2. Testing: 1-2 sessions of face-to-face testing with client. Each session is typically 2-3 hours.
  3. Scoring, Interpretation, Records Review & Report Writing: 3-4 hours completed by Dr. Dohrenwend.
  4. Results Session: 1 hour feedback session with client, or parent(s) if testing a minor. Test results, diagnosis (if indicated) and an individualized  treatment plan outlining specific treatment options, accommodations and other recommendations is reviewed.  A comprehensive report is provided during this session.
  5. Coordination of Care Session (Optional): This 1 hour session is an opportunity to consult with other relevant parties, such as psychiatrists, pediatricians, school administrators, therapists, tutors, school counselors or teachers. This session can be scheduled after the final results session.

How long does the assessment process take?

The assessment process typically involves 4 appointments. These can be scheduled over the course of 2-3 weeks. During this time, additional information is also collected (such as medical records and self-report questionnaires). After testing is complete and all additional information attained, the results session can be scheduled. The entire process typically takes 3-4 weeks.

How can I prepare my child for the testing appointments?

The tasks involved in the administered tests are age-appropriate and aimed at holding the attention and interest of children. Some of the test items are enjoyable for many children, such as building with blocks, “trivia”- type questions, puzzles and drawing.  If your child appears nervous prior to testing, validate their emotions and assure him or her that the process is similar to working with a teacher or tutor. Remind your child that they will not be graded on their performance and that they should focus on trying to do their best work.

General pre-testing guidelines:

  • Promote a good nights sleep the night before testing
  • Provide your child with a healthy breakfast the morning of testing (including protein)
  • Bring a snack and drink to the testing appointment (granola bar, sliced fruit, cheese stick, fruit snacks, juice box or water bottle are good options)
  • Bring your child’s reading glasses if needed
  • Have your child take all medication as prescribed, unless Dr. Dohrenwend instructs otherwise
  • If a child has specific questions about why he or she is being tested, explain that testing helps us learn more about how people think and learn. The process can identify strengths and weaknesses and even help others, such as our teachers, teach us more effectively.

Typically parents are not present during testing. If your child is extremely nervous, parents may stay for a portion of testing, easing the transition and allowing for the child to feel more comfortable. While we are with your child, please have your cell phone on in case any questions or concerns arise. Testing appointment typically last 2 – 2.5 hours; we will call you about 15 minutes prior to the completion of testing.

Why should I choose Psychology 360 for my or my child’s assessment process?

Our approach to assessment is comprehensive and personalized to meet each client’s unique needs. We utilize over 25 empirically supported test measures which ensures the broadest scope of examination while allowing us address specific concerns or goals. Each finalized report includes specific recommendations, accommodations and treatment options. Referrals and a clear outline of “next steps” are also provided during the final results session.

In addition, Dr. Dohrenwend tests each client personally. During this face-to-face testing process, she is able to gather additional information about behavioral and personality characteristic which are imperative to integrate into the final report.

Dr. Dohrenwend also collaborates with interested and involved parties, such as physicians, therapist, academic personnel or other specialists. She coordinates these appointments over the phone or in-person, either before, during or after the assesment. She often travels throughout the San Diego area to accommodate her client’s needs and ensure proper coordination and continuation of care.

What approach to therapy is offered?

Dr. Dohrenwend uses an integrated approach with a strong focus on two orientations, which include:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is an empirically supported and structured approach that focuses on challenging negative thinking in order to view difficult situations more clearly and respond more effectively.
  2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a cognitive approach that employs validation, positive reinforcement and acceptance to help change unhealthy and ineffective patterns of behavior. Mindfulness techniques such as progressive relaxation and deep breathing are DBT techniques that have been especially helpful to manage strong negative emotions. Boundary setting is also a focus which can improve interpersonal relationships and increase self-esteem.

What are the benefits to these approaches and what symptoms are treated?

CBT and DBT are empirically supported approaches to therapy that have been proven effective in assisting children, adolescents and adults manage a wide range of symptoms and concerns, including the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Anger and Irritability
  • Panic Attacks
  • Interpersonal Ineffectiveness

These techniques can also help individuals manage negative emotions more effectively, improve social skills and communication, set healthy boundaries and navigate life transitions.

What is “consultation” and how does it differ from individual therapy?

Consultation differs from therapy in that it focuses on short-term, solution focused guidance that assists individuals effectively work through a personal, professional or academic concern or challenge. Consultation sessions are available to individuals and families who are interested in support and guidance from a mental health perspective. Typical examples of consultation areas include the following:

  • Guidance and support related to a child’s academic path (i.e., ensuring appropriate accommodations are received, assisting with the IEP process or referring for additional beneficial services)
  • Creating action plans for a family member with mental health or substance use concerns
  • Assisting with conflict resolution or interpersonal concerns
  • Establishing a plan to assist with parenting issues (managing defiant behavior, effective discipline techniques, managing ADHD or learning differences)
  • Collaborating with involved parties as related to a psychoeducational or psychological assessment

How often would I need to come to therapy? How long would therapy last?

Typically clients are seen weekly for the first six weeks. As symptoms improve, Dr. Dohrenwend and the client work together to create a schedule that will ensure continued progress. After the initial weekly sessions, often clients are seen every other week. This schedule may decrease to monthly, depending on the client’s progress, concerns and goals. Some clients who come to therapy are able to work through a specific issue have reported acceptable success after 10-12 sessions. Other clients benefit more from longer-term therapy.

How do I know if the services offered will suit my needs?

Dr. Dohrenwend will discuss your needs and concerns and answer any questions during an initial brief phone consultation. During this call, together we can determine if our services are suitable to address your needs.

How soon can I make an appointment?

Depending on your flexibility, appointments can generally be scheduled within a few days. Saturday morning appointments are reserved for testing, assessment or evaluations. Some evening appointments are available.

What is the length of time of appointments?

Appointment times depend on the type of service. Individual therapy and intake appointments are 50 minutes. Testing appointments range from 2 to 4 hours. Consultation appointments are generally 50 minutes, but may extend to 90 minutes.

Do you take insurance? What forms of payment do you accept?

We do not accept insurance, we only accept private forms of payment, which include the following: Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, HSA (Health Savings Account) & FSA (Flexible Spending Account).

Are there benefits for paying privately?

Yes, we feel that there are benefits. Insurance companies require a diagnosis and often place restrictions on client care, such as the length of time and duration of services. For assessment cases, insurance companies typically do not cover the comprehensive protocol that we feel is necessary to appropriately assess each individual.

Confidentiality is also a concern. We believe that it is not always best for our client’s health information to become part of their permanent medical file. This is especially relevant for children, who may not benefit from carrying a diagnosis as they navigate college and the workforce in the future.  We have found that we provide our best services without the limitations and restraints that insurance providers require.

Some clients are able to use Health Savings or Flexible Spending Accounts to pay for services using pre-tax dollars. When requested, we provide all of our clients with Superbills so that they can submit this information to their insurance company if they choose to do so.

What are your rates?

Fees for services range from $140 -$160 per hour. Please inquire about specific pricing, which is based on the services requested.

I’m interested in learning more about a service offered, what is the best first step?

Call 858.877.3601 or complete our online form and Dr. Dohrenwend will be in touch with you as soon as possible, typically within 24 hours.

Can’t find your answer above?

Contact Psychology 360