Frequently Asked Questions

Why are mental health evaluations required prior to weight loss surgery?

Insurance companies require a mental health evaluation of patients to confirm that insurance funds are spent on appropriate patients who are most likely to be successful in their efforts to lose their obesity.

Quality of care requires that patients be both physically and emotionally stable, as well as mentally fit, for the surgical experience, and the post-surgery period.

What does a mental health evaluation for weight loss surgery consist of?

 Mental Health Testing – A patient will take three mental health inventories online that reflect on personal strengths and limitations, and personality characteristics.  These factors impact the success of mental health adjustments related to the surgery and post-surgery. The information gathered from these inventories assists the psychologist during the clinical interview.

Clinical Interview – Patients will participate in a one-on-one clinical interview with licensed psychologist, Dr. Rolf Gordhamer, Ph.D., via telephone/FaceTime.

This approach is convenient and time saving for the patient in that the patient doesn’t have to go to the trouble of waiting weeks for an in-office appointment, locating and driving to an office, searching for parking, sitting in crowded waiting rooms in unfamiliar surroundings.  Rather, the patient can remain in the privacy and comfort of their own home.  They can schedule the interview for times outside normal business operating hours.

The psychologist will use the results of the inventories as he guides the patient through the clinical interview.  The interview will investigate the patient’s reason for seeking bariatric surgery, their weight and diet history, their eating habits, life changes which have affected their weight or might affect their success with the surgery. Also discussed are social support systems, the patient’s mental health history, and any current mental health issues that might affect the patient’s success with the surgery.

The psychologist will offer suggestions to the patient to assist them as they make life adjustments both pre-and-post surgery.

Should I feel uncomfortable being interviewed by a mental health professional?

The psychologist is specifically looking out for the welfare of the patient by helping the patient be more aware of their own motivations, strengths, weaknesses, social factors and, if there are any mental health issues that might affect their success with this surgery.  The psychologist helps the patient understand the challenges, adjustments and opportunities of bariatric surgery.  The psychologist gives the patient honest feedback, and professional opinions concerning important issues.

What mental health conditions would cause problems with weight loss surgery?

Examples of problems which could interfere with the success of weight loss surgery include unmanaged depression, excessive anxiety, psychotic episodes, a highly dysfunctional marriage/family life, weak motivation, indecision, etc.

The issues noted above, and others, are a concern to bariatric professionals. Some patients find it is better to sort out their personal problems before undertaking bariatric surgery. The psychologist is a professional skilled in helping patients assess their decision.  It is not unusual for a patient to be accepted for bariatric surgery who also accepts a referral to a therapist as a support system before or after bariatric surgery.

What happens after the clinical interview?

Dr. Gordhamer will tell the patient whether or not they passed the mental health assessment process. He will offer suggestions related to pre-surgery or post-surgery adjustments. A mental health report is then written-up, with a copy sent to the surgeon’s office. This report is available to the patient upon request.

What if I don't have a computer?

Patients often use a friend’s computer or a computer available to the public such as a library computer to complete the online material. Material can also be faxed or mailed to the patient upon request.