If you are struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, you may be considering therapy. You are not alone. In 2020, almost 53 million people had a mental illness. It is natural to have questions about therapy, especially:

  • What is a psychiatric evaluation?
  • What happens during a psych evaluation?
  • Where to get a psychological evaluation

While psychiatric evaluations sound intimidating, knowing what to expect will help ease your nerves. 

What is a Mental Health or Psychiatric Evaluation?

When you struggle with symptoms of mental illness, your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist will perform tests to determine what mental health issues you have and what treatments will help. 

A psychiatric evaluation often involves answering verbal questions, taking a physical test, and completing a questionnaire. This variety of testing gives mental health professionals insight into your personality and how you cope with stress. 

These questions can make you feel judged. However, therapy is a judgment-free environment, and your answers help the therapist help you. 

What to Expect From a Mental Health Assessment?

The fear of the unknown keeps many people from seeking therapy. The biggest question is often, “What happens during a psych evaluation?” 

You typically spend anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes talking with the therapist and completing various tests. 

Physical Exams

Sometimes a physical illness mimics the symptoms of a mental illness. A physical exam is crucial in ruling out diseases such as neurological or thyroid disorders. Your mental health professional should know all your health issues and the prescriptions and supplements you take. 

Lab Tests

The therapist may order blood work, urine screen, or brain scan during your psychiatric evaluation. These tests help rule out any physical health problems. Your therapist may also screen for and ask you about drug or alcohol use.

Mental Health History

Mental health disorders can be genetic. You will answer questions about your personal and family history of mental illness, how long you have experienced your symptoms, and any previous treatments. 

Personal History

This part of the psychiatric evaluation is where the therapist gets to know about you, your lifestyle, and your history. Questions may include:

  • Are you married?
  • What kind of work do you do?
  • Did you serve in the military?
  • Have you been arrested?
  • What was your childhood like?

You may also answer questions about your most significant stresses in daily life and any traumas you have experienced. While it can be hard, to be honest about your past, it is crucial to receive the proper treatment. 

Mental Evaluation

During a psych evaluation, the therapist asks questions about your symptoms. They will also want to know how you manage your behaviors. 

During this time, your therapist will be observing your appearance and behaviors. The therapist will quietly observe the following:

  • Are you shy, irritable, or aggressive?
  • Do you make eye contact?
  • Are you talkative?
  • How do you appear compared to others your age?

Cognitive Evaluation

Cognitive evaluations gauge your ability to think, recall information, and use mental reasoning. Your therapist may test you on basic tasks such as:

  • Focusing your attention
  • Remembering shortlists
  • Recognizing everyday objects and shapes
  • Solving simple math problems

You may also be asked about your ability to handle daily responsibilities such as self-care and going to work or school. 

Types of Testing During a Psych Evaluation

Although each mental health professional has their style and questions they like to ask, they all use four primary psychological tests. 

Assessment of Intellectual Functioning (IQ)

An assessment of intellectual functioning, or IQ test, measures your cognitive abilities. It provides a score that serves as a measurement of your intellectual abilities and potential. An IQ test involves an intelligent test and neuropsychological assessment. 

Behavioral Assessment

A behavioral assessment gives your therapist a variety of information about your behaviors and emotions. This is especially helpful when it is unclear what is causing your symptoms. 

Clinical Interview

A clinical interview is a vital tool that helps mental health professionals make an accurate diagnosis. It is extremely helpful when there are multiple disorders. The two common types of clinical interviews include a structured clinical interview and a clinical diagnostic interview. 

Personality Assessment

A personality assessment helps mental health professionals determine the best treatment methods. This test allows your therapist to learn about the environmental, genetic, and social components of your personality. 

Types of Psychiatric Evaluations

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are three common types of psychiatric evaluations. The type of evaluation also determines what happens during a psych evaluation.

Emergency Evaluations

When someone needs a psychiatric evaluation for their safety, a doctor or mental health professional will order an emergency evaluation. Before the psych evaluation, a doctor needs to rule out any medical reasons for their symptoms. 

There are various reasons for an emergency evaluation. The most common reasons are:

  • A person exhibits violent behaviors toward themself or others
  • A person is confused and highly agitated
  • A person is hallucinating
  • A person is threatening self-harm or is displaying suicidal behaviors
  • A person has a history of substance misuse and shows signs of a mental health disorder. 

If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact one of our counselors at Sana Lake. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. 

General Psychiatric Evaluation

Typically, a general psychiatric evaluation happens when a mental health condition is suspected. During this evaluation, a therapist reviews your medical and family history. A person’s family history is deeply significant since mental disorders can be genetic. Lab tests are also typically ordered.

Clinical Consultation

People typically schedule a clinical consultation when they are not feeling themselves or experiencing symptoms of mental health disorders. Depending on the situation, a family member may schedule a clinical consultation for a loved one. 

Preparing For a Psychiatric Evaluation

As your appointment day gets closer, you may be asked to do a few things to prepare for your psychiatric evaluation. Your therapist may ask you to keep a journal of your thoughts, emotions, and symptoms. Be honest because this gives your therapist insight into your daily struggles. 

Your therapist may also ask you to bring a close family member or friend with you. This is because the people closest to you see changes in you that you do not. So, they can give your therapist insight and perspective on your strengths and needs. 

During your psychiatric evaluation, you will be given time to ask questions. It can be hard to remember the questions you have, so it is helpful to write them down ahead of time. This can ease your nerves and give you confidence going into the evaluation. 

Psychiatric Evaluations are an Important Part of Mental Wellness

Like people, each psychiatric evaluation is different. Mental health professionals often pick and choose which tests and assessments depending on the reason for the psych evaluation. Licensed mental health professionals are trained to administer the tests, elicit the most accurate responses, and interpret the results. 

The negative stigma surrounding mental health struggles often stops people from seeking help. However, life is hard enough without fighting mental health issues. If you struggle with mental health issues, the issues worsen and can be life-threatening. Make the call and schedule your psychiatric evaluation today. 

Is Therapy for Me?

There are many reasons why you may be asking, “ Is therapy right for me?” Is life bringing you down? Are you having trouble in relationships, or are you struggling with a loved one’s death? Maybe you are just tired of managing your anxiety and depression alone. 

Going to therapy doesn’t make you weak. Every person faces problems, and no one should face them alone. A therapist can help you understand your feelings, heal past traumas, and teach healthy coping skills. 

Not all people struggling with mental health disorders know they have a problem. And sometimes, you may recognize a change in a loved one but are not sure what it is. The following are signs you or a loved one need to start looking where to get a psychological evaluation.

  • Extreme sadness 
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and social events
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and other activities
  • Extreme highs and lows in moods and emotions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Worries or fears that seem unreasonable
  • Ignoring self-care
  • Confusing thoughts
  • Excessive anger
  • Thoughts and beliefs that are not realistic
  • Seeing or hearing things that others can’t
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations

If you experience one or two of these symptoms and they only last a day or two, there may be nothing to worry about. However, if you have more of these symptoms that impact your daily life, you should have a psychiatric evaluation. If you have thoughts of hurting others or yourself or suicide, get help immediately. 

Where to Get a Psychological Evaluation Near You

When someone asks where to get a psychological evaluation, the answer depends on their present situation. However, the following places may be qualified to perform a psychological evaluation. 

  • Private psychiatrist office
  • Hospital emergency room
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Outpatient treatment centers
  • Home care services
  • Nursing homes and other long-term facilities
  • Schools
  • Prisons

If you live in or near the Greater St. Louis Area or Kansas City, Missouri, you can get a psychological evaluation at Sana Lake.

Stop Struggling Alone and Get Help Today

At Sana Lake, our well-trained and compassionate psychiatrists thoroughly perform your psychiatric evaluation. After reviewing the results, our team of psychiatrists, doctors, and therapists design an individual treatment plan to help you achieve lasting recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder or a mental health disorder, it is time to stop struggling in private. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.