Assessing the meaning of psychologic symptoms in adolescents can be a difficult task. Pediatricians, internists, and family practitioners are often the first professionals consulted by families worried that their teen-agers may be in psychologic distress. The practitioner is faced with the difficult decision of meeting the adolescent's need himself or referring the patient to an adolescent psychiatrist for further evaluation and possible treatment. In making this decision the practitioner must carry out a complex assessment task which requires the simultaneous evaluation of multiple clinical variables. This paper presents a conceptual scheme for evaluating the psychologic status of an adolescent patient.