The Importance of Assessment

Tessa Burns MartinAdult ADHD

Written by Cheryle Sherwood, Registered Psychologist

Many clients come to me stating “I think I have ADHD. I did this test on the internet, and…well…that’s me!” This always makes me smile. Self discovery often does that to me J

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want everyone to have ADHD, believe me, I don’t. Our insurance rates would be higher than they already are! Lol!

What I mean with the statement above is that figuring out what is going on in one’s life is essentially the beginning of a liberation process. The “gremlin having a face”, is how one client put it. Loved that! What better way to give meaning and context to a set of symptoms that can be pervasive and thread-like throughout one’s life, much like a gremlin creeping through your life stealing keys, replacing pieces of paper that you ‘just had’, and playing irresistible music in your head that you just can’t help dance to, or at least tap your foot.

Once the ‘gremlin’ is properly identified (what are the symptoms? What format do they take in your life? Are you more impulsive or inattentive? How does this specifically affect you, your decision-making, how you view the world and how you do your job or behave in your relationships?), treatment and skill building can begin.

Luckily, identifying how this gremlin does and doesn’t affect your life is relatively easy. Through accurate assessment, figuring out what one’s gremlin looks like becomes a process of discovery, exploration and realizations.

If your gremlin is annoying, perhaps a bit nasty or mean, there are things to calm it down a bit, if not shrink it down to a more manageable size ;). Perhaps your gremlin is a cute, sassy little thing with unmatched bows in her askew ponytails that is a bit of a demanding princess (my own personal favorite, just because of her fashion sense).  Part of the fun of therapy in my opinion can be finding out what one’s particular gremlin looks like, where they can be helpful, where they are annoying, and where they need to be shrunk or ‘battled’.

Taking a look at the unique gremlin coping strategies inherently developed by most people, and what strengths one brings to the table is immensely helpful in developing treatment plans.  The best part is that with appropriate screening and assessment, the treatment is able to be completely individualized to each client’s unique life/relationship issues.

I find that without appropriate assessment, it is more challenging for the therapist to point someone in the right direction or explore adequately what might be most helpful and effective for each client. After all, in my mind, it’s all about giving the client the best ‘bang for their buck’. I want to do what is going to be most helpful for them in the long run.