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What to expect from an assessment ....⬇️

 

 

  • The idea of undergoing psychiatric assessment can be a daunting one but it is essentially like any other medical examination. The main difference is that the emphasis is on verbal communication but occasionally there may be a need for physical examination and laboratory tests. The overall aim is to help you explore those patterns of living which you find to be troubling and valuable. It should be a helpful, enlightening and ideally enjoyable experience.
  • People come for psychiatric assessment and treatment for all sorts of reasons (court requirements, workplace accidents, physical injuries, etc.). In an ideal world, people would come because they recognise having "problems with living" and that something needs to change but this is often not the case. Sometimes it takes a crisis of some kind to spur a person into action. 
  • Some patients prefer to sit face to face with me for the duration of the assessment whilst others prefer to relax on a couch without direct eye contact. It really is a case of individual preference and you can choose what feels most comfortable. 
  • You should not feel coerced into discussing aspects of your life that you do not wish to. However, complete honesty is essential (both for me and for you). Withholding information will cause anxiety for you and obstruct the flow of valuable information. Confidentiality is assured and you will certainly not be judged. Rest assured that I have heard all kinds of life stories.
  • During the initial assessment, I have found that it is best to obtain an account of your problems with living on a 1:1 basis but if you feel intensely uncomfortable meeting with me for the first time you could bring someone with you.
  • I may call beforehand at a time convenient for you to have a brief discussion and obtain some basic information. If you do not wish to talk on the phone, you can complete this information by email or regular mail.
  • I will attempt to obtain a detailed, holistic understanding of why you are suffering at this point in time and what (if any) is the most appropriate way to describe your difficulties in diagnostic terms (e.g. depression, bipolar illness, personality disorder, etc). 
  • We are all capable of experiencing unpleasant psychological symptoms under certain circumstances and it does not necessarily mean that we suffer from a formally diagnosable mental disorder.
  • I will explore some of the reasons why you may have developed your difficulties in the first place and why your problems have taken this particular course over the lifespan. I will try to determine some of the reasons why things are not improving and possible directions for future change and potential treatments.
  • I will explore your past history of mental health problems and the relationship with drug and alcohol use (if there is any).
  • In order to get the best possible understanding of your personality, I will explore aspects of your psychological and social development from childhood through adulthood to the present day.
  • I will ask about your history of physical health problems and how these have impacted up you.
  • It is also important to explore your occupational history and any involvement with the criminal justice system.
  • I will compile what is known as a "mental state examination". This will include a variety of observations during the course of the interview. Again, this is based on my opinion and clinical experience. It should not be considered a judgement.
  • Towards the end of the assessment, I will summarise our discussion and attempt to provide a formulation and diagnosis based on what you have told me.