Upon fixing an appointment for the first consultation, your psychologist will send you an intake form to be emailed to her. In the meantime, write down notes about your child’s developmental history, milestones for his communication, social and motor skills (eg., gestures, pointing, eye contact, first words, phrases, relating events, showing interest in peers, playing together, relating about friends’ names and antics, showing excitement, anger, embarrassment, lying, understanding jokes, sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, running). Bring along these notes and feedback from teachers and other professionals familiar with your child.
The session lasts for one hour, where you share your main concerns (eg., about child’s difficult behavior, social problems, anxiety or learning difficulties) and expectations with the psychologist. Take the time to get to know your psychologist and to decide if you can work well together, in crafting goals together and to collaborate in understanding your child. At the end of the discussion, you will be consulted in planning the assessment process, which may include a standardized cognitive assessment, observations in natural settings for your child and interviews for parents.
Most of the time, parents prefer a first consultation with the psychologist without their children so that they can discuss their concerns (eg., child’s difficult behavior) openly without making their children feel uncomfortable. When parents get to know the psychologist and understand the goals for subsequent sessions, they will be able to prepare their children for subsequent sessions, thus reducing anxiety for their children.
However, you may bring also your child along. Do let the psychologist know and bring along toys or activities for your child. Your child will stay in the room together with us during the discussion, where the psychologist will also observe his/her play behavior and interactions with parents. The session may take a little longer, with the psychologist interacting with your child as well.
Depending on the concerns to be addressed, some children do not need standardized assessment and can begin intervention in subsequent sessions. Intervention goals will then be discussed with your family. Some families bring along assessment reports carried out by other psychologists and intervention goals can then be planned accordingly. A standardized assessment (eg., Autism diagnostic assessment, IQ assessment) may be recommended if the purpose for referral is for school placement, diagnosis (eg., dyslexia, ADHD, ASD) or school accommodations.