Evaluations: Private and Public

Red Ladder Optimized Learning is a private practice psychological service for children, teens, adults and families standing alongside psychological services based in schools, university training centres, and hospitals.

Psycho-educational evaluation and intervention services are available through Manitoba school divisions free of charge. Speech and language pathologists, Audiologists, social workers, and reading clinicians also work in the school system through the Child Guidance Clinic of Winnipeg or one of the Educational Support Centres attached to School Divisions. In all cases, school officials consult with the appropriate CGC clinician before a referral is accepted, except in the case of Audiology, where prior consultation for a hearing assessment is not mandatory. If a student is a minor, parental permission is required.

Parents concerned about the quality of their child's school success can speak with their child's teacher or resource teacher about the advisability of psycho-educational evaluation, psychological intervention, or both, and ask about the availability of these services.

In many cases, wait lists in the public system are lengthy.

There appears to be a difference in general emphasis in evaluation by a school-based psychologist versus that of a private practice psychologist, as at Red Ladder Optimized Learning. There are pros and cons to each, and both sectors can provide excellent professional services.

Whereas a school-based clinician spends a certain amount of time in a particular school each week and works closely with that school and each of the others to which he or she consults, a private practice psychologist works more at a greater distance from the school system. Although parental consent is needed before psychological work can begin with a child or teen, school officials most commonly initiate the process, and consultation with the child's teacher appears to be the most usual starting point for evaluation with parents being consulted second.

In private psychological practices, parents of their physicians tend to initiate the referral, and a client or their parents is the starting point for collection of information and history. A private practice psychologist tends to speak with school officials somewhat later, and may or may not observe a child in the classroom setting. However, unless a parent requests that a private practice psychologist not consult with their child's school, school officials should be invited to participate in the evaluation process. It is the policy of Red Ladder Optimized Learning to obtain as much information from school staff as possible.

A private practice psychologist works for his or her client. Where the client is a minor, the psychologist works for the client and his or her parents. It is not appropriate for a private practice psychologist to discuss his or her work with anyone apart from the client and family except where the client and family have explicitly authorized the exchange of information. For example, a family maintains control of a private practice psychological findings and the report.