FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your areas of practice?
What information will an evaluation provide?
Should I book a brief evaluation or a full evaluation?
How long does an evaluation take?
What tests do you use?
Who will have access to my child’s information?
Can you provide distance services by phone or Skype?
How should I prepare my child for testing?
What kind of follow-up services do you provide?
Do you see children for individual psychotherapy?
Do you take insurance?
Do you have a sliding scale?
I’m not sure if my child needs testing. Do you offer initial consultations?
Do you have a financial interest in the products or services you recommend?

What are your areas of practice?

I specialize in assessment, diagnosis, and family-oriented treatment planning for children with learning disabilities, ADHD, and emotional or behavioral problems. I provide treatment for anxiety, fears and phobias, OCD, depression, behavior problems, family conflicts, and adjustment to life problems or issues. Although I have a particular focus on homeschooling families, my practice is not limited to children who are homeschooled. I am happy to evaluate and treat children who attend public or private school as well. I am usually able to conduct classroom observations and consult with teachers, when necessary, when I work with schoolchildren.

Because autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect so many aspects of children’s lives, their diagnosis is a multidisciplinary process. If your child’s evaluation indicates that an ASD is most likely present, further assessment by a team of specialists will probably be necessary to confirm that diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Depending on your child’s specific circumstances, that team may include professionals such as a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and a developmental pediatrician. If I recommend this type of follow-up, I will help you find appropriate local providers. I can also help with many homeschool-related questions and issues for children with ASDs.

What information will an evaluation provide?

A psychological evaluation for learning problems can provide extensive information about your child’s specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Some academic skills, such as reading, call upon a complicated array of mental tasks and processes. Other mental processes, such as attention or the ability to regulate emotions, contribute to a wide variety of academic and behavioral areas. Although parents (especially homeschoolers) are usually able to recognize that, for example, their child is strong in math but weak in reading, a psychological evaluation is usually necessary to identify which specific mental processes show deficits, and which strengths can be harnessed to compensate for those weaknesses.

When an evaluation for learning problems is conducted through Minds in Focus, in addition to a detailed analysis of their child’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, parents are provided with specific advice about interventions to remediate problems and/or to accommodate a child’s learning differences. I do not assume that all parents will rely on professional special educators to translate my report into educational interventions. My reports for homeschooling families are written directly to and for the parent, with concrete teaching suggestions. For clients who attend school, I provide full recommendations for the parent and for the child’s particular school environment.

Should I book a brief evaluation or a full evaluation?

A full evaluation is designed to answer complex questions about a child’s psychological and educational functioning. Full evaluations are appropriate for families who are concerned that their child might have a learning disability, ADHD, or an emotional or psychological issue that significantly affects their learning. Not every family needs a complex evaluation to answer their questions. A brief evaluation is designed to answer basic questions about a child’s abilities or achievement. For example, a family might wonder whether their child is gifted, or whether the child is performing at grade level in various subjects.

How long does an evaluation take?

A brief evaluation typically takes 90 minutes to 2 hours, including a brief parent interview and testing. The length of a full evaluation varies, depending on how complex your questions are and how difficult it is for your child to focus for long sessions of testing. In general, full evaluations involve a 90-minute parent interview and about six hours of face-to-face testing. You can expect to come to Minds in Focus 3-5 times for a full evaluation, although this number of appointments can be compacted for out-of-town clients.

The amount of time it takes to get an appointment through Minds in Focus varies. This is a part-time solo practice with a limited service capacity. If you require an evaluation by a particular deadline (for example, if you hope to request accommodations for a child who will be taking the SAT or ACT), it is best to contact me well in advance. Please let me know about any time constraints when you schedule your first appointment.

What tests do you use?

For intellectual and academic assessments, I use the Wechsler family of tests: the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V), the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III), and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III). When testing a child suspected of being highly gifted, I use the extended norms for the Wechsler tests, which allow greater distinctions to be made at the upper end of the scale.

I also use a variety of other tests of specific mental abilities. If you schedule a full evaluation, I will discuss your child’s testing plan with you before testing begins.

Who will have access to my child’s information?

Your child’s records, reports, and test data are confidential. So is the simple fact that your child has seen me at all. With very few exceptions, I will not share your child’s information with anyone without your express written consent. I do not report evaluation results to the State Board of Education, local school districts, your child’s public or private school, homeschool umbrella organizations, or any state or federal agency unless a parent requests in writing that I do so. The only exceptions are for extremely rare situations, such as child abuse, abuse of a dependent adult, or court order, in which I am legally required to disclose confidential information.

Although Minds in Focus is physically located within the Baltimore Homeschool Community Center, we are two separate entities. I do not share confidential information with BHCC staff, and they do not have the ability to access my records. If my services were recommended to you by BHCC staff, another homeschooling organization, or another professional, I still do not share your child’s information with that person or organization unless you give express written permission.

Can you provide distance services by phone or Skype?

Sometimes! Laws affecting the practice of telemedicine and teletherapy are still being developed, and they vary widely from state to state. There is no national license to practice psychology. In general, psychologists providing long-distance services must be licensed in both their home state and the state(s) in which their clients are located at the time of service. However, some states permit limited practice by out-of-state psychologists. If you are interested in a consultation by phone or web chat, please contact me to discuss whether this is legal in your state.

I am always able to see residents of other states who travel to Maryland for services. Please contact me if you are interested in arranging an appointment from out of town. With enough notice, I can usually arrange my schedule so that an entire full evaluation can be completed in a day or two.

How should I prepare my child for testing?

It is usually a good idea to avoid the word “testing,” which can provoke anxiety in many children. Children with a history of learning problems in school may be particularly worried about testing situations. You may want to describe testing like this: “Each person learns and thinks in a way that is a little different from everyone else.We want to find out more about how you think so that we can understand the best ways to help you learn. When you go for your evaluation, you’ll be asked to do a set of puzzles, games, and activities, and answer some questions.”

I will always explain the tests I use to your child, and will give your child the opportunity to ask questions before, during, and after the testing sessions.

What kind of follow-up services do you provide?

After an evaluation, I am available to help you translate my recommendations into practice, track your progress, and develop and evaluate strategies for working with your child. Every full evaluation ends with a face-to-face meeting to discuss my findings, go over the report recommendations, and answer any remaining questions you may have. Following that meeting, I am available by telephone to clarify aspects of the report or answer questions about the evaluation’s findings at no additional cost.

Many families, however, will find it helpful to schedule additional follow-up consultations as they work to make changes to their homeschooling program or their family routines to accommodate a child with a learning disability or attention disorder. These consultations will give you the opportunity to review your progress, work out strategies for addressing any new problems that have come up, and get support for the changes you are making. I recommend quarterly follow-up visits (every three months) in the year following a full evaluation; however, these are optional.

Other families may wish to have more guidance and support. For example, if you are working to resolve emotional or behavioral issues that are disruptive to your family life, you may want to schedule frequent counseling visits at first, and then decrease the frequency as problems improve.

Do you see children for individual psychotherapy?

I do see teenagers for individual psychotherapy for problems such as anxiety and depression, if an individual approach seems to be the best strategy for that client’s treatment.

With younger clients (and sometimes with teens as well), I prefer to work with the parent and child together. It is usually difficult for a child to extend strategies learned in therapy to outside settings and situations. Therapy is more effective when you, the parent, also understand intervention strategies and can “coach” your child through problems as they arise in daily life. You are with your child more than anyone else; you are therefore usually the best person to intervene when your child is having problems. I see my job as providing you with the tools, skills, and support you need to do this.

Do you take insurance?

Due to the small size of my practice, I am not an in-network provider on any insurance plans. I am not able to bill your insurance company directly. You are solely responsible for settling your bill at the time of service, as described on my fees and payments page. However, it is often possible for you to seek reimbursement from your insurance company afterward, generally at out-of-network rates. If you hope to do so, please be aware that many insurance policies do not cover psychoeducational evaluations. ADHD evaluations and interventions for psychological disorders (anxiety, etc.) are more likely to be covered. Be sure to contact your insurance provider in advance to gain understanding of what your coverage includes and how to seek reimbursement. I am happy to provide any required documentation for you.

Do you have a sliding scale?

Yes. Discounted rates apply to families with a household income less than $100,000. I am also pleased to offer extremely low evaluation rates for low-income families making less than $50,000 per year. See my rates and payments page for more information.

I’m not sure if my child needs testing. Do you offer initial consultations?

Yes, I am happy to schedule a one-hour consultation session to discuss your concerns and help you decide whether further evaluation is needed. This session will be billed at my normal hourly rate. If you then decide to schedule an evaluation within the next three months, the amount you paid for the consultation will be deducted from the evaluation fee.

Do you have a financial interest in the products or services you recommend?

No. I receive no compensation for recommending any curriculum, program, intervention, or service. When curriculum providers have affiliate programs, I do not participate and do not benefit financially when I link or review a program. In accordance with the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association, I do not pay other professionals for referrals and do not accept referral fees when I refer clients to others.

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