How does a psychologist differ from a psychiatrist?

A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) that includes extensive training in understanding emotional, cognitive, behavioral and psychological problems and the evaluation and/or treatment of those problems. Psychologists also are trained extensively in research in the basis for what they do. In most states, including Alabama, psychologists do not prescribed medicine.

A psychiatrist has a medical degree (M.D., D.O.) with additional training in psychiatry. Some psychiatrists provide psychotherapy although most evaluate and treat the medical aspects of mental illness, including prescribing medications.

What is the difference between a neuropsychological evaluation and psychological evaluation?

A psychological evaluation typically involves the evaluation of general cognitive and personality functioning with goal of arriving at a diagnosis and for guiding treatment. Such evaluation can also help identify a patient’s strengths and weaknesses in a particular area(s). In some cases where clients will be referred for further neuropsychological evaluation after a psychological evaluation if questions regarding diagnosis and or etiology remain (Please see https://apa.org/helpcenter/assessment.aspx for additional information)

Neuropsychology is the unique integration of genetic, developmental, and environmental history with testing data to better understand brain functioning. With a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation of a person’s cognitive, behavioral, and personality functioning the origin and development of a neurological or neurodevelopmental disorder can be discerned, neurocognitive strengths and deficits can be identified, and recommendations to address any deficits customized.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” is a form of treatment for individuals with a mental illness or mental disorder to help them understand their illness or difficulties. Therapy teaches strategies and provides tools to cope with stress and unhealthy thoughts and/or behaviors. Psychotherapy can be very beneficial in helping individuals manage their symptoms and improve the overall functioning.

Sometimes psychotherapy itself can be an effective form of treatment but other times effectiveness therapy is enhanced when combined with medications. Therapists can work with an individual and/or families to develop an appropriate treatment plan. (Please see www.nimh.nih.gov for more information).

How should I prepare for mine, or my family member’s initial visit?

Please be sure to complete the Patient Registration Form if requested (this form is available on the website) and return to the office before the initial appointment. Also, obtain and send to the office beforehand academic and/or medical records, including prior psychological evaluation. Bring a list of current medications and dosages.

Get a good night sleep the evening before. If scheduled for a neuropsychological or psychological evaluation, eat a healthy, well-balanced meal beforehand avoiding sweets or meals heavy on carbohydrates. If instructed, take medications as usual. Please note if scheduled medication is due during the course of testing opportunity will be given for administration of medication. Be sure to wear or bring any corrective lenses (e.g., glasses) or hearing-assisted devices (e.g., hearing-aids).

If your child is responsive to a particular treat (e.g., Goldfish), please bring a small baggie containing such treat as it may assist with cooperation and reduce anxiety while working with the psychologist. Due to some of our patients having peanut allergies we ask you not bring any snacks containing peanuts or other shelled nuts.

Should I or my family member take prescribed medication on the scheduled neuropsychological or psychological evaluation date?

This is a very good question and whether prescribed medication should be taken on the date of the evaluation will be dependent on the reason(s) for the evaluation and possibly, other factors. Please contact our office if you have any questions about medications.

Is insurance accepted at Ackerson and Associates?

Most health insurance policies have a provision to pay towards psychotherapy or neuropsychological/psychological evaluations but such provision varies greatly from policy to policy. You should contact your insurance company before contacting our office to learn whether your policy has a provision to pay for mental health services, including out-of-network services. Most insurance plans are accepted at Ackerson and Associates but individual psychologists vary as to whether they are in-network with certain insurance plans. If the psychologist is out-of-network for your insurance be advised you will likely be responsible for co-pays and co-insurances. Please note, forensic evaluation services and consultative services cannot be billed to health insurances.