MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION
It’s rare for someone to start treatment at CeDAR without any prior experience with either therapy or psychiatric care. This makes sense when you consider that CeDAR residential treatment is often for people who have been struggling to a great degree. These individuals have often sought out treatment at lower levels of care over the years, and this includes standard outpatient support.
We find many people carry certain diagnoses when they enter treatment, including such conditions as Bipolar Disorder, Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or certain personality disorders. While people experience all different forms of outpatient care, it is important for us to use some methodical testing instruments to validate or invalidate certain diagnoses for someone.
What is testing in this way? It involves a CeDAR patient sitting down with our psychology team and can include certain computerized questions, written tasks or standardized puzzles. For instance, we use the Connors Continuous Performance Test (CPT 3) in our screening for ADHD. We use the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) in our screening for cognitive abilities and memory. We even conduct the Rorschach Inkblot test for psychological assessments. To learn more about this, please listen to our “Through the Trees” podcast episode featuring psychologist Dr. Harlan Austin, titled “Psychological Ink.”
Each test is highly valid at gathering information about certain conditions. We schedule for the patient to undergo the tests and then give the patient feedback about the results. These results sometimes confirm that the person has a condition such as ADHD or sometimes suggest that the person was not accurately diagnosed with ADHD in prior treatment.
One of the more fascinating situations in this testing process occurs when patients seem to identify with the diagnosis and are even frustrated when testing suggests that the person doesn’t, in fact, have the condition. This is most apparent with ADHD, and we appreciate that there can be secondary motives with an ADHD diagnosis, essentially involving desired prescriptions for stimulants.
We find that of those who report a prior diagnosis of ADHD, only 30-40% score a positive test through our ADHD screens. This means that most of those with the ADHD diagnosis don’t actually have it, according to the CPT-3. This discrepancy can be due to multiple factors including the presence of psychological trauma, secondary gain of the patient, or the large confounder of active substance abuse. We actually use these findings to help our clinical work with someone, talking about addiction recovery, anxiety and other drives within a person.
The CeDAR psychology team is now offering multiple forms of psychological testing to outpatient individuals as well. If you are interested in pursuing such testing, please contact CeDAR at 720-848-3000 and ask to be connected with either Dr. Rachel Kulas or Dr. Robyn Hacker. We are excited to offer this service to those outside of CeDAR, as it has been so beneficial to people within the residential treatment program.
If you or a family member are receiving behavioral health treatment, and carry prior diagnoses which you would like clarified, we are happy to assist. We might use standardized screening instruments discussed above or explore other unique testing protocols. Historically, these tests have added considerable value to our clinical work at CeDAR, helping to deepen the dialogue about treatment, clarify diagnoses, and effectively guide both patients and their clinicians. We are working to provide the most accurate diagnoses for the people we treat, as this leads to stable and effective health outcomes.