When considering whether or not to have your student evaluated for a potential learning difference or ADHD, there are many factors that come into play. Testing can be lengthy, so students may have to miss a day or two of school. Also, finding someone to do the testing can also be tricky, as many psychologists and other evaluators can be booked up weeks or even months in advance. Another, perhaps even more challenging obstacle to obtaining a diagnosis, is cost.

In my experience, the cost of a full psycho-educational evaluation by a licensed psychologist ranges from $750-1500. That typically includes a pre-interview, the assessment, and a follow up de-briefing. These costs can escalate, depending on the depth of the evaluation. Some psychologists accept insurance, but not all insurance covers these evaluations.

The most widely-used resource for an evaluation is a licensed psychologist who specializes in assessments. Often time school counselors and diagnosticians can provide evaluation for 504 programs, but these evaluations are not nearly as extensive as those provided by a psychologist and usually are not acceptable for accommodations at universities and the ACT/SAT. Additionally, some psychiatrists are able to conduct evaluations, although this is usually not their areas of specialty.

Other than those professionals mentioned above, certain psychologists who are considered “in training” are able to conduct evaluations under the supervision of a fully-licensed psychologist. I, myself, am a Licensed Psychological Associate in the state of Texas and am able to conduct evaluations under such circumstances. Fortunately one of my colleagues, Dr. Timothy Zeddies, graciously supervises me so I can continue offering this service. Even though I’ve undergone extensive training, conducted numerous evaluations for students, and even provided full diagnoses for patients in Child Protective Services, I am not able to do so without someone signing off on my work.

Since there are so few options for children to obtain psycho-educational evaluations for suspected learning differences and ADHD, parents find it frustrating to locate a qualified professional who can administer the assessments in a timely fashion. It can take months to get an appointment with a psychologist, and the costs are often times prohibitive. Simply put there just aren’t enough psychologists for the demand. This topic has recently come to the forefront of the Texas Legislature, who recognizes a need for greater access to mental health services. Here’s where things get interesting for those want to conduct evaluations and those who need evaluations.

SB 1339

As I mentioned, LPAs (which I am) are currently only allowed to conduct evaluations under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. The chief complaint by LPAs (myself included) is that this requirement presents a barrier to serving patients. If I want to conduct an evaluation I have to coordinate everything with Dr. Zeddies. It takes time to arrange all this, and I also have to pay him for his time. This means we have to charge patients more to compensate for the difference. It’s a cycle that make evaluations take longer and cost more. I’ve spoken to many LPAs who say that it’s either not worth their time to work, or they can’t find a supervisor who has the time to supervise them. Meanwhile we continue to see a lack of mental health services, all of which could be addressed with a change in the supervision requirement.

Well hopefully that is about to change.

Senate Bill 1339 was introduced this past spring in the Texas Legislature in order to overturn the supervision requirement for LPAs. LPAs must hold a Master’s degree in psychology and receive 500 hours of supervised experience to become licensed. We are highly qualified, especially for tasks such as psycho-educational evaluations, which is relatively straight-forward work for psychologists.

Currently SB 1339 is being hotly debated by licensed psychologists who want to protect the supervision requirement and thus their professional identity as “doctors” only. I totally understand their concerns, but there is a huge need for mental health services in Texas that can be addressed by loosening the supervision requirements for LPAs. If we didn’t face the burden of supervision we could provide more services and ultimately lower the costs for you the patient. It’s a win-win! I would absolutely conduct more evaluations if I could do so on my own. I’m qualified and have extensive experience doing so, and I don’t charge as much as a psychologist.

Supporting SB 1339 will only help the mental health services area in Texas. There are really talented and dedicated LPAs who want the opportunity to work and serve your children. Please contact your local legislator and let them know you support SB 1339!