Office: 011 640 4498
Mobile: 082 678 4300
Physical Address: 7 Tenth Street, Orange Grove, Johannesburg
You can follow Melanie on Facebook and Twitter below or on her website: www.melaniehartgill.com
I am a married mum with two delightful children, who add love and entertainment to my life on a daily basis. I became a psychologist after learning that someone very close to me had dyslexia that had been undiagnosed, so he went through school believing he was stupid. I really felt that was unacceptable and that it was important for children and their parents to be given accurate diagnoses, as early as possible, as well as being given a distinct plan for the way forward.
I focus on aiding the development of children and helping them on their way to finding direction and improving their performance and self-esteem at school. I have had sixteen years of experience, six of which were while working in both government and private schools.
Today there is more pressure on children to develop and excel and it is important that we understand their needs and translate their goals and abilities into something that the children, their parents and teachers can work with. I strive to gain an understanding of each child and family I work with, intending to identify their cognitive, educational, social and emotional challenges they experience that inhibit them from attaining their potential.
M.Ed (Wits), BA Hons (First Class) (Wits), BA (Wits)
Practice number: 0115134
HPCSA Registration number: PS 0081469
As an educational psychologist, my focus is on helping children or young people who are experiencing problems within an educational setting with the aim of enhancing their learning. Challenges may include social or emotional problems or learning difficulties. My work is with individual clients; advising teachers, parents, therapists and other professionals. Today, perhaps more than ever, assessing students’ knowledge and skills is a central issue in schools.
I have specialised my practice to only conduct assessments and work with clients from 3 months through childhood and teenagers to adults, who are still involved in studying. I also consult to companies regarding educational matters.
Types of assessment offered at this practice:
- Intellectual / cognitive ability
- Emotional development
- General developmental progress
- Academic / scholastic abilities
- Intellectual / cognitive functioning and IQ testing
- Learning styles
- Study skills
- Remedial or special needs
- Subject choice
- Aptitude tests and interest scales
- Learning difficulties, including AD/HD
- Career development
- Exam concessions / accommodations (IEB & GDE)
- Emotional development
- Working memory difficulties
- Occupational interests
- Intellectual development
- Learning difficulties and AD/HD
- Aptitude scales
An assessment will take a number of different forms depending on the needs of the client and the reason for the assessment, though I do offer a short screening assessment to determine the need for further intervention or investigation.
Psychoeducational testing is an opportunity for acute observation combined with the use of standardised tests and questionnaires in an effort to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses across many areas of functioning and attributes. It is conducted on an individual basis and the optimal one-on-one testing environment allows for the examinee’s level of effort to be monitored providing more valid estimates of the individual’s skills as compared to group-administered tests. Often, a child’s performances will be better in an individual testing situation than his/her performances in the classroom. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of individualised testing is to provide the most valid estimates of the child’s actual skill levels. In an uncontrolled environment, such as the classroom, many extraneous factors (e.g., visual and auditory distractions) can prevent a child from performing optimally.
Essentially then an assessment is the process of collecting information that will be used to form opinions and make decisions concerning the assessed individual. It is a general term used to refer to all methods that appraise a person’s performance and abilities.
Assessments are about more than just administering a battery of tests to clients. My professional assessment includes:
- Demographic information
- Medical information
- Personal history
- Collateral information from schools (where relevant and provided)
- Collateral information from professionals and therapists (where relevant and provided)
- Interview with client and parent/guardian
The intention of the assessment process is:
- To provide a diagnosis for specific areas of difficulty that require intervention
- To assess a particular area of functioning or disability, often for school settings
- To provide career development counselling
- To monitor progress once a diagnosis made and intervention has occurred
- To identify readiness for school in terms of a child’s maturity, both developmental and emotional
- To provide guidelines for treatment plans, either within a school setting, such as an Individual Educational Programme or outside of the school with individual or private therapists
- To guide parents, guardians or caregivers in helping the child to reach their potential making use of their specific strengths and abilities
- To assist teachers in reaching the student most effectively
- Identifying and providing assistance for the developing child
- To provide detailed accommodations and considerations for school or work environments (such as, access to technology, extra time, physical room arrangements, presentation of subject matter and organisational/support strategies, etc.) currently referred to as concessions or arrangements
Specific information about the different types of assessments offered
Considers the emotional, social and intellectual maturity of a child. A child is considered to be school ready when they can meet the formal demands of school and cope with the school environment physically, perceptually, socially, emotionally and academically without undue stress.
Is sometimes referred to as intelligence quotient (IQ), cognitive functioning, intellectual ability, aptitude, thinking skills and general ability but essentially it is the evaluation of a person’s current intellectual functioning through performance of various tasks designed to assess different types of processing, memory, attention, visual and auditory preferences, verbal and perceptual reasoning skills, etc. It further involves the ability to think, solve problems, analyse situations and understand social values, customs and norms.
Involves looking for characteristic patterns of reading, perceptual and writing difficulties, as well as associated difficulties in such areas as: speech and language, numeracy, oral skills, attention and distractibility, social and emotional factors, organisation and under-achievement.
This looks at the individual’s inherent capacity, talents or abilities to do something therefore providing an indication of the individual’s potential in a specific task or technical field
Examinations should be a fair test of an individual’s knowledge and what they are able to do. If someone has a disability or learning difficulty, the usual format of exams may not be suitable. Adjustments may need to be made for them, e.g. exam papers in large print, extra time, a scribe, a reader, use of a computer, etc. Arrangements of this type are not concessions to make the exam easier for someone nor are they advantages to give someone a ‘head start’ but they allow an individual to show their ability and knowledge without being disabled by the assessment format itself. These are conducted for both the government and private schools exam boards, as well as the Cambridge and IB boards.
Academic difficulties can involve the psychological processes of input (the receiving of information), memory (the storing and retrieving of information), integration (comparing, enlarging, uniting, relating, combining or any means used to render information more complete) and output (using the information normally and meaningfully). When there is trouble with information coming in or with the way the information is sifted and related, in memory and the association of ideas in the brain or with the way the brain controls the body’s response, it is necessary to conduct an assessment aimed at determining at which point this psychological or neurodevelopmental process breaks down in order to provide the information necessary to reorganise the brain so it can be used most efficiently.
Career focus or subject choice tests
This battery involves intelligence assessments in order to identify levels of cognitive functioning relative to a norm group; aptitude tests to measure potential in a specific task or technical field; personality questionnaires to identify an individual’s characteristics and traits and interest inventories to attain information on a person’s liking or preferences for engaging in certain occupations.
There are as many different approaches to learning as there are people and it’s important to look at these different styles with the intention of finding the most appropriate learning method for people. Three of our five senses are used primarily when learning, storing, recalling and retrieving information. Just as we are predominantly left or right brained, so we tend to use one modality more than the others, thus we are either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners, though we may have elements of every category but are likely to prefer or be stronger with one method. However, what is clear is that the more senses we use to learn something, the more likely we are to remember it; just as the more we use the information, the easier it is to recall and access it. The learning styles theory implies that how much individuals learn has more to do with whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning than whether or not they are “smart.”
A child’s emotional functioning is the ability, capacity or skill to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups. When having to assess someone emotionally, it is necessary to use projective techniques which do not generally meet psychometric requirements and are therefore open to interpretation; however, these are essential for getting a complete picture of a child’s personality and functioning. Therefore multiple evaluation methods are best to ensure a relatively clear and unbiased evaluation. Test results are integrated with clinical data, knowledge of developmental aspects and the child’s reactions to the environmental factors in order to provide information about the child’s cognitive, emotional and social characteristics, considering strengths and possible problem areas.
In addition to assessments I offer workshops and talks (with a practical focus) for parents, teachers and learners on the following topics:
- Exam techniques
- School readiness
- Learning disabilities
- Homework and study skills
- The importance of assessments
- Helping your child to thrive at school
- Sexuality education
- Individual Education Plans
- Nutrition and development
- Neurodevelopment and many more …
2018 Rate Sheet Fee Includes
- 1 hour consultation-R 1150
- Computer samples to support concessions assessment-R 760
- 1 hour follow up assessment-R 2100 Report and 30 minute feedback
- 1 hour assessment-R 2550 Report and 30 minute feedback
- 1 1/2 hour screening assessment-R 3650 Report and 30 minute feedback
- School readiness assessment / developmental assessment-R 4000 Report and 45 – 60 minute feedback
- Careers or subject choice assessment-R 4400 Report and 45 – 60 minute feedback
- Full psychoeducational assessment-R 4400 Report and 45 – 60 minute feedback
- Concessions/accommodations assessment-R 4900 Report and 45 – 60 minute feedback
Melanie operates from the Johannesburg east area. She sees clients mostly from neighbouring suburbs such as Houghton, Bedfordview, East Rand and other surrounding areas.