Desert Sage Resource Center (DSRC) Psychological Clinic Services for the Family Court

Desert Sage Resource Center (DSRC) Psychological Clinic Services for the Family Court performs court-ordered evaluations on individuals and families who are involved with the Court.

What to Expect

Psychological evaluations usually consist of an interview and the administration of several psychological tests. The psychologist doing the evaluation will review the court file and other documents, as appropriate, and will speak with individuals familiar with the person being evaluated.

Evaluations are typically scheduled in half-day blocks of time and usually taking four to five hours.

Sample Referral Questions for the Psychological Clinic:

Regarding parents
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the parents?
  • To what degree do the parents demonstrate empathy, attachment, and judgment in relationship to their child?
  • Does a parent exhibit symptoms consistent with a particular psychiatric diagnosis (e.g., intellectual disability, mental illness, substance abuse) that impacts their ability to effectively parent?
  • What is the level of cooperation of the parents with other professionals involved in the case? How open are they to suggestions for change?
  • A Parenting Capacity Evaluation examines if a person is “good enough” to A good parent mainly covers the following four aspects:
    • Fulfills child’s developmental and health needs
    • Provides consistent and daily care
    • Prioritize children’s need
    • Addresses their problems and provide all possible supports
Regarding children
  • What are the developmental and emotional needs of the child?
  • Does the child have special education, health or other needs that might impact a parenting plan?
  • How well do the parenting ability and styles fit with the child’s needs?
Regarding the parents’ relationship with one another
  • Is there demonstrated capacity for cooperation?
  • What is the nature and intensity of disagreements over the child?
  • How do each feel about the involvement of the other in the child’s live (e.g., are there deliberate efforts, subtle or otherwise, at alienating the child from the other parent)?
Potential for risk
  • Is there a history of violence?
  • What is the likelihood that an individual will pose a threat of danger to the child or the ex-partner?

Why are psychological evaluations done?

The main purpose of the evaluation is to provide the Court with information and to make recommendations regarding the person(s) evaluated. The report usually covers areas such as:

  1. What is going on mentally and emotionally with the person(s) evaluated?
  2. What are the special needs of the person(s), if any, which should be addressed?
  3. What would be an appropriate treatment/placement plan decision?

Who can make a referral to the clinic?

​Clients are typically referred by Court, Attorneys, and others who are providing services related to the Family Court.

Who can be referred?

Children and/or adults involved in a particular case may be referred for an evaluation. The recommendation is made when the parties involved in the case observe behavior or receive information to suggest that the client may have one or more of the following difficulties: academic problems, intellectual limitations, prior mental health history, deficit in parenting abilities, etc.​

What happen after the referral?

At the time the referral is made, parties to be evaluated should be sent to the clinic immediately so that relevant information can be collected and updated for prompt navigation of the appropriate releases of information.​

How long will the evaluation take and what will I have to do?

​A psychological evaluation can take four to five hours per person, and sometimes longer, depending upon the case. Evaluations consist of:

  • An interview during which the clinician asks many questions about one’s past and current situation.
  • Psychological tests which are administered by the clinician.
  • Paper and pencil questionnaires.
  • As needed, there is an observation of parent-child interactions.​

Who will conduct the evaluation?

​Evaluations will be conducted by a Psychological Assistant, Psychological Intern, Psychological Trainee, or Social Work Intern.  The evaluations will be under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist or social worker.

How will I obtain the results of the evaluation?

Typically, the report of the evaluation is sent to the judge or referee who ordered it. The reports constitute confidential information and it is court policy not to release such documents to the person(s) evaluated (or their parents). The clinician, however, can give feedback on the results of the evaluation to individuals who request it.​

Psychological Report

The findings of the psychological evaluation are presented in a written report, a copy of which goes to the attorney, judge, or referee.

In all cases, individuals who have been evaluated can request to meet with the clinician who conducted the evaluation to have the findings of the evaluation explained to them. The psychological reports are confidential documents and the information they contain is sensitive.

Release of Psychological Reports

Occasionally schools, treating therapists, or other professionals request a copy of the evaluation completed by our clinic to aid them in planning for the child or family. Upon receipt of an appropriate release of information, and in some cases approval by the judge, the clinic may send a copy of the report to the professional or agency designated on the release or otherwise respond as directed.​

Will I have to pay for the evaluation?

The maximum fee is $450 per child and $550 per adult, based on ability to pay.