Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty area of applied psychology that focuses on the way brain systems and functions affect people’s cognition, behaviour and psychological well-being.
The brain controls how we think, feel and behave. A number of medical, genetic and psychological / psychiatric conditions can affect the way the brain processes information, and therefore the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. For example:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Hypoxic brain injury
- Neurological conditions (e.g. stroke, epilepsy, MS, dementia)
- Congenital and developmental conditions
- Chronic health conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension)
- Serious mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia)
- Substance abuse / misuse
A neuropsychological assessment generally aims to outline how different processes in the brain are working and how this may be affecting a person.
Assessment typically involves an interview to gather relevant personal and family history. It may also be necessary to gather other background information such as medical reports and collateral information from loved ones and others who know the client well. After this, clients complete a range of tasks that assess attention, concentration, reasoning, learning, memory, motor and language skills, in addition to mood and other psychological factors.
Neuropsychological assessments commonly take around 3 hours, however they may be longer or shorter than this depending on the reason for the referral. Breaks are offered throughout the appointment and lengthy assessments may be spread over a few appointments if necessary. After the assessment, a report is prepared and an appointment is usually arranged approximately 2 weeks later to discuss the results and any recommendations made.