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Youth Assessments

Our experienced clinicians believe that youth behavior problems are like an iceberg. The problems that bring youth to the clinic are the parts of the iceberg you can see. The solutions to those problems can be found by understanding and intervening with what lies below the water line – trauma, abuse, neglect or addiction.

We bring our compassion and professional expertise to every youth we treat, individualizing their treatment because ‘one size fits one’. Our clinicians work to understand how a youth’s current behavior problem might have started as a creative solution to an unlivable situation. We carefully evaluate the impacts of family mental health history, early environment, and trauma on the behaviors under scrutiny. We consult with parents, teachers and physicians to craft a comprehensive road map to wellness.

Dr. Rifken's mental health assessments often include simple instructions on how our emotional brains work. If you ask her why, she’ll tell you that “self-knowledge is the first step in healing”. She will also tell you that a person who feels blamed or shamed is unlikely to tell others anything important about themselves. Brain language simply takes blame and shame out of the treatment room so people feel safe and willing to seek help. Dr. Rifken uses Trauma-Informed Care principles to ‘bridge’ into all sorts of discussions about ‘inside feelings showing on the outside’ and even self-harm or suicidal feelings. Her approach includes a focus on the youth’s strengths and needs.

For an example of what is involved in a Youth Assessment, please read Jamal's Story.

Dr. Rifken also provides:

  • Cognitive assessments and screenings for learning challenges. She works closely with school staff to understand a youth’s strengths and needs in the educational setting.
  • Guardianship evaluations for youth aging out of foster care who need continued support.
  • Assessments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and ADHD, helping to clarify the overlap and provide on points of intervention.
  • Assessments of Autism Spectrum Disorder and its impacts on social and emotional functioning.
  • Assessments of complex mental health symptom pictures in youth of all ages.

For more information on our Youth Assessments, please contact Dr. Donna Rifken at 608-827-7100 or via email.