Do you have a student who is bright, but disengaged from learning? Does your child seem to need more academic rigor? Are you concerned that you child may not be reaching their potential due to specific learning or attention difficulties? The Assessment and Counseling Clinic seeks to help families identify, understand, and support the specific needs of their high ability students, including those who may also experience a disability or impairment that can present as behavioral, emotional, social, or learning challenges. Our experts in giftedness and twice-exceptionality offer specialized psychological services for these students and their families.

About the Assessment & Counseling Clinic

The Assessment and Counseling Clinic (ACC) staff specialize in providing psychoeducational assessment, counseling, and consultation services to gifted and twice-exceptional students, from preschool through college. Clinic staff conduct comprehensive evaluations to examine a student's full range of learning abilities, including talent domains as well as areas of disability. Families are provided with detailed information about their student's abilities, including recommendations for supporting their full range of learning and psychosocial needs. Common referral questions include diagnostic assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety, depression, behavior challenges, and academic underachievement. Additionally, the ACC offers educational assessments to assist with educational placement decisions, including consideration of academic acceleration. Families seek services at the ACC to obtain diagnostic clarity, guide educational and treatment planning, and participate in intervention services specific to the unique needs of high ability and twice-exceptional students. In addition we offer a packet of information for families and educators looking for more information about twice-exceptional children.

Services Offered

The ACC offers three types of assessment services: Educational, Twice-exceptional, and career:

  • Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning. They involve assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant to academic planning decisions. These assessments are not diagnostic, and cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement. These evaluations may assist with decisions regarding academic acceleration, early entrance, and instructional planning. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing.
  • Twice-Exceptional/Diagnostic evaluations include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether a student meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or depression. These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider.
  • A career assessment helps an individual explore their interests, abilities, personality characteristics, and personal values to assist in exploring potential careers. In addition to participating in a brief interview, the student would complete computerized and paper-and-pencil rating scales to provide information relevant in making career choices. The results and implications would then be discussed with the student. Because career evaluations are not medical in nature, fees for these services cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.

The ACC offers individual counseling services. Individual counseling, also called therapy, involves the client working individually with an ACC counselor toward specified goals. These goals may involve improved coping strategies, symptom management for anxiety or depression, development of social and/or communication skills, improved executive functioning or self-control, coping with transitions, managing conflict, parenting skills, etc. Parent participation in encouraged, particularly for younger clients, so that strategies learned in counseling can be implemented and reinforced at home. Due to our extensive waitlist, we are not currently accepting new therapy clients.

The ACC also offers a social skills group for high-ability high school students with social skills challenges. The group is typically offered once per year. This group utilizes video self-modeling and naturalistic social interaction to increase awareness of social behavior and build more effective social and communication skills. If you indicate interest in the group on the intake form, you will receive an email inviting your adolescent to participate prior to the start of the next group session.

Consultation services are offered to assist parents of high-ability students in addressing issues such as acceleration planning, decision-making for postsecondary education, resolving a specific concern, and/or obtaining a second opinion about a student's learning and/or psychosocial needs. Consultations are provided in-person or by phone with parents. The ACC can provide a record review (analyzing existing test scores and records) or one-time appointment to discuss a specific concern in these cases. Following the consultation, you will receive a report that both summarizes the content of the consultation and provides recommendations. For that reason, two hours are typically charged for a consultation (one hour consultation plus one hour report preparation). Consultation services are not covered by insurance and will be billed privately to the client at the time of service.

The ACC strives to increase awareness of giftedness and twice-exceptionality in the community. As such, ACC staff participate in various outreach trainings throughout the year, including to local and national research conferences, to school districts, and to community organizations. Fees may apply. For more information, please contact Alissa Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu.

What Makes Us Unique

Diagnostic evaluations are available at other local medical and private practice settings, including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. What makes our clinic unique is emphasis on supporting the needs of high-ability and twice-exceptional students through comprehensive evaluations. Our comprehensive evaluations include a full battery of intellectual and academic achievement testing, assessment of psychosocial functioning, gold-standard diagnostic assessment measures, as well as parent and student interviews. The thoroughness of the evaluations gives us greater confidence in our conceptualization and provides evidence of a student's talents and areas of challenge in order to guide recommendations for interventions in both areas. Moreover, the ACC staff have extensive experience, both clinically and academic, in understanding and supporting the needs of high ability students.

The Assessment and Counseling Clinic is one component of the Belin-Blank Center, which is a comprehensive center for gifted education and talent development that provides a wide array of student programming and teacher training related to gifted education, talent development, and twice exceptionality.

The Assessment and Counseling Clinic is also involved in ongoing research on twice exceptionality. For example, our collaboration with the Iowa Neuroscience Institute seeks to join the fields of education, psychology, neuroscience, and genetics in an effort to better understand and support twice-exceptional individuals.

Who Do We Serve?

The ACC serves students in preschool through college who demonstrate intellectual or academic talents and who may also have areas of disability or deficit. Although the ACC will see children as young as 4 years of age, particularly for questions relating to early entrance to kindergarten, it is important to recognize that test results for very young children are less reliable than those obtained for older children. For that reason, depending on the child’s age and the referral question, the ACC staff may recommend waiting until the child is slightly older to complete an evaluation.

Students do not need to be formally identified as gifted to participate in services at the ACC. Doing so would likely exclude many twice-exceptional clients who are unable to demonstrate their potential in academic settings due to their areas of disability. However, families seeking services through our clinic should recognize that the knowledge and expertise of our clinicians are geared toward high-ability students; therefore, this is the population we are most effective in serving. Many of our clients do show specific areas of strength in reading, writing, math, science, creativity, problem-solving, verbal reasoning, visual-spatial, and/or leadership skills.

Our Staff

Aliss DoobayAlissa Doobay, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Supervisor of Psychological Services, Assessment and Counseling Clinic
Kristin WursterKristin Wurster, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Scholar
Psychology Associate
Katherine SchabillionKatherine Schabillion, Ed.S.
Psychometrician
Nancy WhetstineNancy Whetstine
Secretary

University of Iowa doctoral students in Counseling and School Psychology are often involved in the delivery of assessment and counseling services at the ACC under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist.

Next Steps

What to Expect

If you'd like more information on scheduling or preparing for your appointment, fees and insurance, or what happens after an appointment please see What to Expect.

What to Expect

Request Services

If you are interested in scheduling assessment, counseling, or consultation services or would like more information, please complete the Request for Services.

Request for Services