What is a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation?

Comprehensive psychiatric evaluations are detailed exams used to diagnose emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, and developmental delays. Their comprehensive nature gives the doctor or medical team involved the most complex picture possible of a patient’s situation. In a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, a doctor is able to assess a wide range of factors affecting a patient’s mental health and behaviors, including physical, genetic, emotional, cognitive and social function.

A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is conducted by a psychiatrist, which is a medical doctor. The psychiatrist conducting the evaluation may specialize in an area related to a specific disorder. In cases that involve younger patients, a psychiatrist who specializes in child or adolescent psychiatry would be involved.

These evaluations typically take place at a doctor’s office, over one or more appointments. As with any psychiatric intervention, a patient’s privacy and safety are of foremost concern, and an environment that reflects this is always maintained. In evaluations involving minors, the doctor may wish to also interview the patient’s parent or parents.

What is involved in a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation?

What is involved in a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation may depend on a patient’s symptoms. In general, however, many of these evaluations include evaluation of the following:

  • Patient behaviors
    • When are behaviors likely to occur?
    • What is their duration?
    • Are they triggered by certain conditions?
  • Physical and psychiatric symptoms
  • How behaviors and symptoms affect:
    • a patient’s work life;
    • their performance at school;
    • interpersonal relationships;
    • their engagement with family;
    • and, their involvement in activities.

A comprehensive psychiatric also typically involves a psychiatric interview in which the doctor will learn about the patient’s personal history and if there is any family history of certain disorders. The doctor will also take a complete medical history of the patient to identify whether any physical conditions are present.

Finally, a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation may also involve lab tests. Some may be used to determine if underlying medical conditions exist and include blood tests and radiology studies. Other lab tests may include educational assessments, speech and language testing, and psychological assessments.

What happens after an evaluation?

The goal of a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is to help a patient. By getting a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health, doctors can help develop a comprehensive plan to help that patient on the road to healing.

Once the evaluation is complete, the doctor involved will go over the diagnostic processes used and their results. If the process has resulted in a diagnosis of a condition, the doctor will walk the patient through a series of recommendations and provide a treatment plan. Recommendations can include lifestyle changes or adjustments that can be made at work or in the classroom. Treatment plans can include psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, and medication, as well.

Families and loved ones are often involved in the process. Their support of a patient and participation in a treatment plan can be an essential part of the healing process. When children and adolescents are involved, the doctor will review all recommendations and treatment plans with the young person’s parents or guardians.