First Person Perspective

Seeking Help for Your Child

As parents, we sometimes worry about our children’s behavior, emotions, and development. While we share concerns with friends and relatives, we are less likely to seek a professional evaluation. However, by leveraging this tool, we learn to understand our children better, recognizing when mental health interventions are necessary and improving family relationships.

Children develop rapidly, creating a unique window of opportunity to provide support and step in when problems occur. During an evaluation, psychologists can use tests and interviews to understand things from the child’s perspective and determine if a diagnosis is warranted. With this information, parents learn how their children think, experience everyday life, and express emotions. Parents also learn how their children’s behavior is reflecting their needs. This improved communication often leads readily to improved behavior. And if a mental health diagnosis is made, parents have a blueprint for understanding which interventions are most likely to help.

Behaviors that warrant an evaluation

What happens during a psychological evaluation?  

We meet first to talk about your child’s life, your concerns, and your child’s strengths and unique qualities. I ask you, as a parent, to think about specific questions you would like to have answered. Your child then comes into the clinic to participate in a variety of engaging activities and tests. Most children enjoy this one-to-one attention and the opportunity to try new things. Finally, we come together to review the results. I answer any questions that you have and talk about any diagnoses. I can also provide recommendations for next steps for your family. If the child is older, I can also meet individually with them to explain the outcomes and answer questions.

What happens after an evaluation or diagnosis?

You will come away from the evaluation understanding your child better and knowing how to support them going forward. If a diagnosis is given, it is important to take time to educate yourself and process your feelings as a family. I often meet with parents again a month or so after the evaluation to answer any new questions. And remember, evaluations are confidential, so you get to decide when and if to share it with others. Take it one step at a time. With an evaluation comes a team. Parents and children can benefit greatly from the support and knowledge that comes with professional help. A psychological evaluation is often the beginning of a journey that leads to the healthiest, happiest version of your child—and your family. 

Featured Expert

  • Crystal DeVito, PhD

    Senior Child & Adolescent Psychologist
    Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Pediatric Anxiety Disorders, Pediatric Behavior, Mood, and Adjustment Disorders, Psychotherapy, Psychological Assessments