Social emotional assessment addresses issues relating to areas of social, emotional or behavioural functioning. This type of assessment may be used to evaluate children or youth who are displaying:
- Significant anxiety/worry
- Sadness or emotional reactivity, poor self-esteem or significant irritability
- Difficulties getting along with others
- Problem behaviours
- Symptoms of emotional or behavioural disorders
We can also evaluate adjustment difficulties. Social emotional assessments may address difficulties related to coping with challenging life experiences. Some children and youth whom we encounter have experienced a great deal of trauma in their lives, including being abused and neglected, witnessing domestic violence, or living in homes characterized by legal conflicts and substance misuse. Sometimes the primary concern with children from traumatic backgrounds has more to do with their emotional well-being and capacity for healthy social relationships than it does with respect to their intellectual and learning abilities. They may also be presenting with significant behavioural problems reflective of underlying social-emotional challenges.
When emotional or behavioural difficulties are the primary concern, the most appropriate referral is for a social-emotional assessment, which would include an interview with the primary caregiver(s), formal and informal assessment with the child or youth regarding emotional well-being and social development, and contact with other informants (e.g., social worker, daycare worker or teacher, or extended family members).
We often conduct social emotional assessments in conjunction with psychoeducational assessments, as it allows us to rule out learning or cognitive bases for presenting behavioural difficulties or social emotional problems. If there are underlying cognitive challenges, it is important to understand how these may contribute to behavioural or emotional difficulties.
- Typical Diagnoses Considered:
· Attachment Disorder
· Mood Disorders (e.g., depression)
· Anxiety-Related Disorders (e.g., separation anxiety, social phobia)
· Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
· Behavioural disorders
- Types of Considerations and Recommendations Made:
· Diagnostic formulation
· Is there a need for treatment?
· Who should provide treatment (e.g., counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist)?
· Specific recommendations for treatment
· Recommendations for caregivers directly involved with the child.