CLINICAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY: WHAT IS IT?
"Clinical neuropsychology is a specialty profession that focuses on brain functioning. A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills are related to brain structures and systems. In clinical neuropsychology, brain function is evaluated by objectively testing memory and thinking skills. A very detailed assessment of abilities is done, and the pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used in important health care areas, such as diagnosis and treatment planning. The clinical neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation and makes recommendations." –American Psychological Association, Division 40 Educational Pamphlet
Specialization in Clinical Neuropsychology requires formal training in the understanding of brain-behavior relationships. Neuropsychological assessment is completed by a licensed psychologist who has expertise in neurodevelopment, brain systems and functions.
What is a neuropsychological ASSESSMENT?
A neuropsychological assessment focuses on comprehensive assessment of cognitive or "mental" functions, including:
• Learning & Memory
• Attention & Concentration
• Executive Functioning
• Visual-Spatial skills
• Motor & Fine Motor
• Mood & Personality
Neuropsychological evaluation in general, is used to help with treatment and intervention planning based on each client’s unique needs across multiple settings (e.g., school, home, peers). However, in many cases children, adolescents and young adults (college age), use information gathered from neuropsychological assessment to aid in academic planning and to request accommodations for standardized testing. Some schools will specifically request a client undergo a neuropsychological evaluation (vs. a Psychoeducational Evaluation) as part of their process to help determine appropriate, in-school intervention and support strategies. In adults, neuropsychological profiles of strengths and weaknesses are often used to help with vocational planning and/or psychiatric treament planning.
WHAT IS INVOLVED?
For children and adolescents, the evaluation typically begings with a clinical interview with parents, followed by a school observation (i.e., visit to the child’s classroom to observe prior to meeting). With young adults/adults, each evaluation begins with a clinical interview of the client to gather information relative to their reason for assessment. Following an initial meeting, testing is typically performed over 2 visits consisting of 5 hours per visit (typcially 9am-12pm and 1pm-3pm). Time per visit depends on the client’s levels of fatigue or ability to sustain suitable effort over time. Additional sessions can be added per each client’s needs. The evaluation consists of performing activiites that are developmentally appropriate for the age of the client. Tasks typically involve interactive questions, hands-on activities, and completion of self-report questionnaires. Questionnaires are collected from others involved with the client (e.g., parents, teachers, psychologists, partners) as well. In addition, a review of relevant medical and academic records, as well as previous psychological/neuropsychological evaluation reports are often included. A feedback session is completed for each client covering relevant findings and recommendations. For children, a feedback session is held with parents and in many cases, a shorter feedback session will be held with the child. For adult children and adult clients, feedback sessions can be held individually or with any other person the client chooses. A written report will be available to each client (or parents) following the feedback session.