Low Cost Child Psychological Assessment – Is It Really Value For Money?
Parents sometimes ask me about the cost difference between our child assessment services and other providers. (Our rates are not the highest in Melbourne but we are closer to the premium end than the bottom end of the market.)
In effect, what they are asking is this: Does it really matter who provides the service?
The simple answer is YES!
It matters where the assessment is done. It matters who conducts the assessment. And it matters how much experience they have.
Sadly, there are certain organisations who are currently marketing cheap assessment services. They are able to do so by using unpaid postgraduate students to conduct the assessments and write the reports. (The students are motivated to perform this unpaid work as it counts towards the compulsory supervised placement hours required by their course.)
These organisations believe this is acceptable because a more experienced psychologist ‘supervises’ the students. BUT what they may not tell you is exactly how much supervision is actually provided.
You might be surprised to learn that a supervisor may have as many as eight students to supervise at any one time, on top of their own client load and any academic teaching or research work.
I will leave it to your own imagination as to what the outcomes might be in terms of the quality of service. (We know first hand from the reports parents sometimes show us when they visit our clinic.)
Furthermore, one a student has finished their temporary placement at the assessment provider and moved on, there is very little chance of consulting them in future with any queries about the assessment results or recommendations. And of course they won’t be able to offer ongoing counselling or coaching services to help your child make the most of their learning potential.
Sure, students need to learn how to administer psychological tests. But there are other ways they can get that experience without being used for free labour to provide ‘cheap and cheerful’ services to the unsuspecting public.
Would you really want a student practising their skills on your child?
Frankly, this practice devalues both the service and the profession.
It’s true that sometimes you can pay less for a generic product which is more or less equivalent to the brand name version…but psycho-educational assessments are not the same as tissues or detergent!
The fact is it takes an experienced professional a substantial amount of time to:
- competently administer and score an assessment;
- carefully analyse and interpret results;
- prepare a professional report with clear, appropriate and meaningful conclusions;
- make relevant and practical recommendations based on the results; and
- help parents and schools to understand the results and apply the recommendations to improve learning outcomes
Wouldn’t you prefer to pay a bit more for an experienced professional? Someone capable of building a rapport with your child so they can give their best effort on the tests? Someone who knows the education system? Someone who is able to provide an informed clinical opinion? Someone who can make sense of your child’s individual learning profile? And someone who will help you and your school implement strategies to help your child learn more effectively?
If you are going to go to the trouble of having your child assessed – regardless of which service you ultimately choose – please choose carefully and don’t assume that all assessment services are equal.