Demystifying the Psychological Evaluation

I get asked over and over “Why do I need to have a psychological Evaluation?” There are two very good reasons for a psychological evaluation before weight loss surgery. The first is that most insurance companies require an evaluation and recognize the importance that this evaluation can have in patients overall success. The second and most import reason is to help you identify your strengths such as your commitment to make life style changes after weight loss surgery. It can also help identify areas where you might need additional support after weight loss surgery due to mood changes, depression, or issues with emotional eating.

But what are they looking for? Do they think I’m crazy?

The main goal of a psychological evaluation is to pinpoint the most difficult times for you and to give you strategies to deal with these situations when they occur in the future. It is not the goal of the provider to deny or “fail” a patient. Your provider wants to see you succeed in your weight loss goals.

The following are other goals that your Social Worker/Psychologist will be evaluating:

  • Education of the patient about realities and risks of surgery. Can this person make informed decisions about surgery?
  • Identification of behaviors that may keep a person from losing weight or may lead to regaining weight.
  • Helping the patient with personalized strategies
  • A written report created for insurance and/or the surgeon.

What can I expect during my evaluation?

You can expect the evaluation to last approximately 1 ½- 2 hours. There are usually 3 or more psychological tests to complete that are either done on the computer or written or a combination of both. You can also expect to have a clinical interview that is more conversational in nature and usually is free flowing. Providers understand that people can be nervous during these interviews and it is our job to put you at ease and help you feel comfortable during your assessment.

The provider expects you to be honest with your answers. Having depression or any other mental illness does not disqualify you from having weight loss surgery. But having any untreated mental illness or other untreated addictions can cause you to be unsuccessful in your weight loss goals after weight loss surgery. By identifying these early on and getting treatment you will be able to add these resources to your support systems.