Dealing with Psychologists — Part 3: The Final Four Aspects of Your Child’s Behavior

Posted September 15th, 2016.

Categories: Child Custody, Custody Tips, Family Law.

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If your child is required to be interviewed by a psychologist or psychiatrist as part of a child custody evaluation, you should be aware of the factors the doctor will be considering during his interview. On Friday’s blog, we talked about four key factors, and on yesterday’s blog we examined four more factors. Today, we’ll look at the final four factors that doctors consider during the custody evaluation process.

NEUROMUSCULAR INTEGRATION. Part of the expert’s job is to make observations, including watching how coordinated your children are. The doctor will observe how your children play with toys or with each other; he will observe how your children hold and use a pencil or a crayon. Is the amount of physical activity normal? Is it purposeful? Are the movements coordinated? Or, are there signs of unusual anxiety? Distraction? Neuromuscular defects or psychopathology?

INTELLIGENCE. Typically, a child is given a psychological (IQ) test to gauge his intelligence, but a psychologist may also be able to estimate intelligence from other records — such as report cards, standardized testing results, communication ability and other behavioral attributes. A child’s intelligence is an important measure of his developmental status at a particular age, but it may also be an important reflection of the kind of stimuli and influences to which he has been exposed in his parents’ homes.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. The expert will also be attempting to identify the child’s strengths and weaknesses. What are his personality or behavioral impairments? Are there any dysfunctional behaviors? Are there areas of strength and superiority that perhaps cover up or compensate for the problem areas? By isolating and identifying these strengths and weaknesses, the expert can begin to explore the extent to which they are connected to the separation of the child’s parents, the separate living arrangements and other factors.

AWARENESS OF PROBLEMS. Another important consideration is whether the child has any sense of the existence of any problems around him or her. Is the child (perhaps due to age or immaturity) operating in her own vaccuum? Or, does she perceive of the problems between her parents? Does she have a sense of the custody issue, and the purpose of the interview with the doctor? A sense of, and a sensitivity to, problems at home, in the family, and at school can provide instructive information to the expert about the child’s perspective and about how the child processes difficult situations.

These four factors and the eight factors discussed on Friday and Saturday’s blogs represent 12 of the key considerations weighed by mental health professionals who are called upon to perform custody interviews and write evaluations and recommendations for the Family Court. Understanding these factors will give parents a clearer picture of how doctors sometimes reach their conclusions and may prompt some parents to take a different — more objective — look at their children.

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