PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Emotional and Behavioral Assessment

Emotional and Behavioral AssessmentWe are emotional beings. Most commonly people are happy and function at a high level in school, on the job, and in relationships. Unfortunately, emotional and behavioral problems can turn happiness to sadness, a high level of functioning into chaos, and successful relationships into angry entanglements or complete avoidance.

The emotional and behavioral problems presented by children, adolescents, and adults are often easy to describe, but complex to understand. Some children act out in angry ways toward the world. Often, this anger is seen only at home and teachers report no difficulty in the classroom. Some children react to specific triggers, while others seem to over-react to everything and nothing. Children act out for reasons, not because they are “bad.” Emotional and behavioral concerns always exist on a continuum from mild to severe and must be understood within the context of the family, culture, and environment; this is the task of an assessment.

When making a diagnosis about an individual’s emotional functioning, it is critical to eliminate all differential diagnoses, that is, other mental health disorders which may often masquerade as a look-a-like set of behaviors. For example, many behaviors like inattention can result from many different sources. If a child has an attentional deficit, stimulant medication may be appropriate. However, if the same set of attention-deficit symptoms is the result of a mood or anxiety-based disorder, very different treatment is necessary. Thus, knowing the cause of a behavior is critical to making treatment decisions. Only the most careful and thorough psychological evaluation can do this; at PlusFour Solutions this is all that we do. When appropriate, Dr. Newton will make thoughtful referrals to other specialists in neurology, endocrinology, psychiatry, pediatrics, nutrition, and educational consulting.

Deciding to pursue treatment without first determining a complete and correct diagnosis really puts the cart before the horse. Dr. Steve Newton has worked with thousands of individuals with emotional and behavioral problems. His experience as a classroom teacher and then a psychologist at three Bay Area psychiatric hospitals has provided him a rich background from which to understand behavior and make diagnostic and treatment recommendations.

Dr. Newton utilizes state-of-the-art scientific instruments to analyze behavior and diagnose underlying symptoms. Test data is always balanced with old-fashioned common sense. Dr. Newton spends time carefully listening to and observing individuals and parents to collect a comprehensive history. Other professionals who know the client are contacted to obtain their observations. When necessary, Dr. Newton will make home and classroom visits to obtain insights available only by direct observation. He is perceptive with children and teens who are unhappy and are acting out in destructive ways. In all situations, Dr. Newton is sensitive to individuals and families in crisis.

Many competent therapists, psychiatrists, teachers, and parents in the Bay Area refer their clients to PlusFour Solutions before recommending a course of treatment. This guarantees that the critical resources of time and money are put to optimal use. Dr. Newton works with referring professionals and remain available for any necessary follow up after the assessment is complete.