Choosing a Psychologist

Selecting a Psychologist with Expertise in ADHD & Psycho-Educational Assessments

When selecting a professional to provide a valuable service, you must make a choice that fits you. Like other professionals such as doctors or lawyers, some psychologists will be a better fit for you or your child’s needs than others. There are many factors that may influence the fit. You can optimize your chances of working with the right psychologist if you consider a few aspects ahead of time.

Finding A Psychologist

Ask School for a Referral

Ask your child’s school if they know of any psychologists whose reports they have found especially helpful in programming to meet a child’s needs.

Ask Family/Friends for a Referral

Ask friends or family members who may have been in similar situations, if they know or have heard of any psychologists with the right type of expertise (e.g., cognitive/academic/processing, ADHD, social, emotional, behavioral, etc.)

Ask Family Physician for A Referral

If you have a pediatrician or family physician who you trust, ask them if they have seen any well-written psychology reports that they found helpful in their work.

Psychologists Association of Alberta Referral Service

The PAA website allows psychologists to pay an annual fee so that they can list their services and describe the areas of their expertise. Be careful that you are paying attention to what they do and don’t provide. The referral service does not, by itself, tell you for certain the depth or breadth of the psychologist’s background.

Interview Process

Be Clear on What You Want

Be as clear as you can about what you are hoping for from the assessment and the professional relationship. Is it merely a diagnosis you need? Or, are you looking for someone to explain everything to you in-depth? Are you going to be the main ‘consumer’ of the report, or are you asking the psychologist to write a report for the school or your physician? If the main audience isn’t you, are you clear on exactly what the school (or other stakeholders) needs? If not, clarify with them before deciding who to work with.

Make a List of Questions

Form your referral in terms of questions for which you would like answers. Then, aim to find people with the most expertise in answering those questions. Not all psychologists have the same assessment background and training.

Interview a Few Psychologists

It would be well advised to talk to two or three psychologists before making your selection. However, it can be challenging to create that list of three possibilities (or more).

Finding the Right Fit

Are You Comfortable with Professional Interactions?

-If you want to ask questions before booking an appointment, will they return a call?
– If you want an in-person consultation, can it be arranged?
-If you prefer to text or email communication, can that work for the individual?
-Do they seem to have a temperament that will be a natural ‘fit’ in the situation?

You need to be comfortable in asking questions of any psychologist with whom you plan to work. Do they set you at ease? Are they prepared to answer whatever questions you put to them?

Professional Qualifications – Questions to Ask

Why would you be a good person to do the assessment?

How the psychologist comes across to you when asked what they are good at, may tell you a great amount. They can explain their excellent communication skills, or report writing, or the ability to work with school personnel or explain things in a meaningful way to you. Moreover, they can tell you about how they go about making sure individuals are comfortable and ready to give their best effort in an assessment situation.

Recent professional learning?

More newly qualified candidates can explain their up-to-date degrees and what they’ve been doing since being registered. Those with more experience in ADHD will be able to share conferences, workshops, or even books and journals they’ve read recently.

What portion of practice is on LD/ADHD assessment?

There is no right answer, but you can ask follow-up questions to get a sense of the degree to which they truly are experts in this field.

Focus of your initial training?

If the answer isn’t ‘assessment,’ you can ask follow-up questions to find out if they have switched into doing more assessment, or if they do assessments occasionally as a side part of their practice. Few and far between though they may be, you do need to watch out for a practitioner who thinks they can do a bit of assessment now and again because they did take that one course ‘back in the day.’


It’s important to ask if their recommendations are evidence-based and could provide you with the evidence that supports the recommendations that they make.

What are your administration procedures?

Finally, is the psychologist clear with you about all obligations you will have to each other? Are they reasonable and clear about their billing policies, booking, and cancellations, payment terms, etc.? This will be a professional relationship, and you can expect all financial and record-keeping aspects to be handled accordingly.