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Every course of counseling is based upon an evaluation of the presenting problem, how it impacts upon the individual, couple or family and the history of the problem. Evaluation is a fundamental component of general mental health practice.

Sometimes, however, there is an indication for a specialized psychological assessment, usually to guide a decision being considered on behalf of an individual. Dr. John Jochem has extensive training and clinical experience in the provision of the following specialized evaluations and is one of the few mental health providers in the Lake County area to extend his practice to encompass these assessment services.

Fitness-for-duty evaluations

On occasion, employers, employee assistance programs or disability management organizations may wish to determine if an employee's psychological functioning is interfering with his or her performance in the workplace. There may be concerns regarding mood, substance abuse, concentration difficulties or behavioral changes which prompt the referral. Or, in the case of police/fire personnel, there may have been a work-related traumatic incident which prompts the need to determine if the employee is cleared to return to their customary duties. When contracted to conduct a fitness evaluation, the consulting clinician is typically retained directly by the organization to assess the individual and provide an opinion regarding the employee's readiness to be on the job and/or the need for accommodations to support a successful return to the workplace. Typically, the components of fitness-for-duty evaluations include the following:

Consultation with the referring organization to identify the issues of concern and goals of the evaluation process.

Diagnostic clinical interviews with the employee, often including collateral contact with the employee's spouse or other family members. The evaluation sessions include a comprehensive assessment of the presenting problems of concern, review past history and the provision of an extended mental status examination.

Consultation with treating clinicians already involved in the patient's care.

Psychological testing may be utilized as part of the evaluation process.

An opinion regarding fitness to return to the workplace is provided, along with recommendations for accommodations or further treatment needs.

Specialized evaluations of children and adolescents to determine fitness for inclusion in the school setting

The exclusion of a student from school attendance pending a mental health evaluation is a relatively rare event. However, under certain circumstances, school administrators may require that a student have an independent mental health assessment—a school fitness evaluation—before the student is cleared to participate in the school setting. Typically, the circumstances prompting such a referral relate to behavioral changes or concerns over an apparent deterioration in functioning or, perhaps, concerns over the student's possible risk of dangerousness to self or others. A school fitness evaluation is appropriate for students who are not deemed to require an urgent evaluation in an emergency room setting, but whose capacity to safely function in the school environment has come into question. Typically, an event or circumstance has prompted the school to require that the student receive an evaluation before resuming school attendance. The school fitness evaluation shares many components with adult fitness-for-duty assessments and typically includes the following components:

Consultation with the referring school to identify the issues of concern and goals of the evaluation process.

Diagnostic clinical interviews with the student, always including collateral contact with the student's parent or guardian. The evaluation interviews include a comprehensive review of the presenting problems of concern, past history and the provision of an extended mental status examination.

Consultation with treating clinicians already involved in the student's care.

Psychological testing may be utilized as part of the evaluation process.

An opinion regarding fitness to return to the school setting is provided, along with recommendations for accommodations or further treatment needs.

Pre-surgical consultations for persons being considered for gastric bypass procedures.

Mental health providers are frequently asked to participate in the evaluation of candidates for bariatric surgery. Many surgical weight loss programs require patients to be evaluated prior to undergoing surgical procedures. Dr. John Jochem has extensive clinical experience as a consultant to weight loss programs and is available to provide mental health assessments which comply with recognized standards of practice, including those promulgated by the American Association of Bariatric Surgery. Pre-operative evaluations for patients under consideration for bariatric surgery typically include the following components:

Consultation with program staff

Consultation with the bariatric surgeon

Diagnostic clinical interviews with the patient, preferably also including collateral sources of information such as the patient's spouse or other family members. Typically, the diagnostic interview will be of a semi-structured format, utilizing empirically supported evaluation measures.

Administration of psychological testing such as the MMPI-2 or other specialized instruments designed for use with the bariatric pre-surgical population may be utilized.

Provision of a written report with findings & recommendations.

Disability evaluations

Persons applying for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration or through their employer may be required to submit to a specialized mental health evaluation. Typically, these assessments consist of the following components:

Review of relevant records and treatment history

Provision of diagnostic clinical interviews, often in collaboration with collateral sources of information such as the patient's spouse or other family members

Completion of required assessment instruments or forms as required by the disability organization.

The billing arrangements for specialized assessment services are structured in a manner which is different from other outpatient care—please see the Fees & Billing page for additional information. Also, you may request a Hawthorn Counseling Group fee schedule by contacting Dr. Jochem at jdjochem@gmail.com Should you wish to schedule an appointment for any of these evaluation services, please call Hawthorn Counseling Group at (847) 680-0755.

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