What to Expect During Appointment

 

How long will an appointment be? 

Appointments for evaluations generally consist of a 1-hour diagnostic interview followed by neuropsychological, psychological, or psychoeducational testing.  The tests and amount of time needed will vary based on the reason for evaluation and referral question to be determine.  Our staff will work with you and your referring provider to determine the referral question beforehand to ensure that your evaluation is targeted to what you need.  You will know by the time of your appointment how long you an expect to be with us.  If you are not sure, do not hesitate to call us, 239-768-7500.

What should I bring to the evaluation?

  • The patient should bring a current list of ALL medications (make sure the list is up to date)
  • If the patient has difficulty providing information about their history, it is helpful for a family member or friend to accompany them (for at least part of the clinical interview).
  • It is helpful if the patient can provide records of previous neurodiagnostic testing (e.g., brain scans such as CT or MRI scans) and/or results from previous neuropsychological evaluations if completed at another hospital or institution.  Let us know beforehand if we should order these records for you (you will need to sign a Release of Information).  Records older than five (5) years are typically destroyed and may not be available.

Is there any way to prepare for a neuropsychological evaluation?

These are not tests that one can study for, but there are several things that one can do to facilitate the evaluation. It is the goal of the neuropsychologist to get the best possible picture of the patient’s current functioning. Several things can interfere with this goal, for instance if the patient is:

  • Excessively tired or fatigued
  • Not motivated to put forth their best effort- these tests are very sensitive to effort and will pick up feigning, lack of motivation, or variable effort.  We will be unable to interpret results within a reasonable degree of certainty if adequate effort is not given.
  • Very emotionally distraught or has a severe psychiatric condition
  • Under the influence of medications or illicit substances which interfere with cognitive functioning

Patients should let the examiner know if they anticipate that any of these issues are likely to interfere with the evaluation.

There are some things you can do to optimize your testing day:

  • Get a good night’s rest before evaluation. Patient’s who live far away might consider spending the evening prior to the evaluation at a local hotel or with friends/family rather than getting up and driving/flying most of the night to get to the appointment.
  • Do not to consume alcohol 24 hours prior to the evaluation. In patients who drink excessively, abrupt abstinence from alcohol can be life-threatening and they should consult a medical doctor for proper detoxification.
  • If taking sleep medicine, patients should check with their doctor whether it might affect test performance the next day
  • Dress comfortable, dress in layers and bring a jacket if you are prone to getting cold.
  • Bring snacks, if needed.  This is especially prudent for diabetics.  Be prepared to take a one hour lunch break if you have a full day of testing.
  • Patients should not worry about whether they will “pass” the tests. The tests cannot be passed or failed; instead they describe how your brain behaves, how the patient performs relative to peers, and what the behavioral map of the brain “looks like.” Tests will unveil a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses.

 What happens during a neuropsychological evaluation?

There will be a confidential clinical interview with the patient and, when available, a collateral source such as a family member or close friend to understand the patient’s history; only person’s the adult patient (or patient’s guardian) allows in the interview can participate. The interview takes approximately an hour. At this time (or before the visit), medical records will be reviewed and integrated into your background information.  The patient then completes neuropsychological testing alone. This is a non-invasive process where the patient is to answer questions, work on paper and pencil tasks, complete computer tasks, or engage in tasks like games or puzzles pencil-and-paper tests.  All tasks are completed while seated at a table. Many of these tests are simple yet others are more complex.  Most people cannot do all tests perfectly. There is no passing or failing. Rather, it is a means to map the patient’s unique pattern of brain behaviors, such as concentration, learning and memory, and language skills. Many people find the tasks fun and interesting. The testing is performed by a neuropsychologist or a specialty trained psychometrician. The total time of the evaluation depends on the referral question; the testing is usually completed in one visit and the time for the evaluation usually ranges from 3-7 hours.

What happens after neuropsychological testing? 

About two weeks after testing is completed, a written report will be sent to your doctor. You may meet again with the neuropsychologist to discuss test results and any recommendations for treatment.

What to expect during a counseling evaluation?

Your personal history and current situation will be assessed during the first session. The therapist will ask you a series of questions about your life, including presenting problem (why you sought therapy, current symptoms), medical history, familial medical history, psychiatric history, familial psychiatric history, and psychosocial history. Therapy is a team effort. It is crucial that you take an active part in the session, be open, be prepared (bring any records or information you think will help your therapist help you), ask questions, and be e open and honest about your feelings and behaviors.  The therapist may also ask you to fill out questionnaires pertaining to your personality or particular presenting problem(s), oftentimes these questionnaires can provide further objective insights.  With a good interview, the therapist will be able to attain an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.   After your therapist has a good idea of your unique needs, you will meet with her as needed.  Most often, therapy occurs 40-50 minutes once a week and homework is assigned between visits.  You are for therapist can determine the frequency of visits you will need.