Preparing for the Hardship Evaluation Process

May 21, 2020
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

The hardship evaluations completed at Counseling Centers of Illinois are thorough biopsychosocial reports that look at the impact of relocation of a family member or loved one on a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S.  Our comprehensive biopsychosocial reports take into consideration many factors including a client’s childhood and upbringing, family history, relationship history, medical history, mental health history, career and work history, and/or a client’s own immigration process.  Additionally, we evaluate and diagnose any mental health concern the client may be experiencing using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).

The process of a full hardship evaluation includes meeting with a mental health professional for approximately 4 hours’ worth of biopsychosocial interviewing and history review.  Through this process, our professionals are able to accurately assess and diagnose any current mental health diagnosis or diagnoses which may be exacerbated by the citizenship process and the fear of losing a loved one, losing one’s family, or losing the life the person has been building here in the US.  Additionally, our mental health professionals utilize various additional tools to ensure accurate diagnosis including questionnaires and surveys, collateral interviews, and consultation and supervision from licensed supervisors at Counseling Centers of Illinois.

Upon completing the interview process, our evaluators then carefully write the report, ensuring to include all relevant and important data in a concise, direct, and personal way to ensure clarity and understanding by the client and anyone involved on the client’s legal team.  The report contains various sections including presenting concerns, symptoms experienced, diagnosis and rationale, background and history, and a summary and discussion section.  In the summary and discussion section, our professionals pull together all the presented information as well as any relevant research to discuss the potential impact of the relocation of a loved one on our client and how that may impact the client’s current mental health diagnosis and presentation.  The report is then carefully read by a supervisor to ensure accuracy and correctness prior to being released to the client.

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The assigned mental health professional then contacts the client once again to schedule a feedback session, in which the client is presented with the completed report and each section is explained by the professional to ensure the client completely understands each section and how the clinician reached their professional conclusions.  The psychological diagnosis is not only thoroughly explained to the client to ensure understanding and awareness, but also processed with the client to answer any questions or concerns that may arise and help direct the client towards any additional mental health services they may require or qualify for.  Upon completion of the feedback session, the client signs 3 copies of the report, 1 of which stays at Counseling Centers of Illinois, and the client leaves with 2 copies to be used at the client’s discretion.

The entire process can last on average anywhere from 2-4 weeks and the reports range on average from 8-12 pages.  Counseling Centers of Illinois also offer additional services such as addendum reports which tend to be 1-2 pages as well as short version hardship evaluation reports which tend to range from 4-7 pages.  Our full hardship evaluation, however, is the most comprehensive and thorough option available and due to this, our hardship reports are often requested by a variety of attorneys involved in the U.S. immigration process and court processes.  

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