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  • Writer's pictureProactive Medical & Life

Navigating ADHD Assessments: Lessons from the Panorama Documentary

Following the eye-opening Panorama documentary aired on Monday night, "Private ADHD Clinics Exposed," we felt an urge to discuss some crucial aspects that were highlighted. If you missed it, you can watch the documentary using this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001m0f9.




The programme was revealing in many ways, especially in its discussion on the stark differences between a psychological assessment and a medical one. For those unfamiliar with the terms, a psychological assessment is usually carried out by a psychologist, while a medical assessment is the remit of a psychiatrist. It's important to note that a psychological assessment, while informative, is not a medical diagnosis. This assessment can guide the diagnostic process and provide valuable recommendations, but a formal medical diagnosis can only be made by a psychiatrist. Therefore, it's advisable to take the psychologist's report to a psychiatrist who can then confirm the diagnosis.


The role of a psychological assessment in diagnosing ADHD is crucial. These assessments offer a comprehensive understanding of an individual's behavioural and emotional functioning. They allow for the identification of ADHD symptoms and their impact on the person's life. This information is key to devising treatment strategies, understanding unique challenges and strengths, and providing actionable recommendations for managing symptoms.


A psychologist's deep knowledge of human behaviour and cognitive processes makes them uniquely qualified for this task, thus providing a broader perspective that complements the medical insight given by a psychiatrist.

A significant concern raised in the documentary was the disheartening lack of resources and funding in the NHS. With some patients facing up to a five-year wait for an assessment, the distress and anxiety associated with being on a waiting list without a diagnosis can be deeply troubling.


The documentary also highlighted the problematic use of structured questioning by some providers and firms. It was not the use of structured questioning itself that was of concern, but rather the subsequent interpretation and application of the information gathered. There were instances where shortcuts were being taken, which is worrying.


Given these revelations, we suggest several key considerations when seeking these types of assessments:

  1. Price: Ensure the cost is within your budget by comparing different providers.

  2. Duration: Understand how long the assessments will take.

  3. Services included: Know what's included in the assessments and how they're conducted.

  4. Medical diagnosis: Ascertain if you will receive a medical diagnosis.

  5. Path to diagnosis: If you seek a medical diagnosis, know what steps you need to take.

  6. Symptom information: Learn about the symptoms and ways to manage them, diagnosis or not.

These assessments aim to:

  1. Clarify why an individual is experiencing certain feelings.

  2. Provide support in work or educational settings.

  3. Determine the necessary steps to address the issue.

We hope this summary helps you better understand the nature and importance of ADHD assessments. For further information, please don't hesitate to contact Lucy Lurie at Proactive Psychology, who will be delighted to provide more details.

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