What is a neuropsychological assessment?
A neuropsychological assessment (sometimes known as a ‘cognitive’ assessment) involves trying to gain an understanding of difficulties you may be having in areas such as concentration, memory, visuospatial abilities, language, planning, problem solving and mood.
What do they involve?
A neuropsychological assessment with me will usually begin with an interview with you, and ideally someone who knows you well. This is to help gain an understanding of your areas of difficulty as well as your strengths, both at home and at work (if applicable) and other factors that may be affecting you. If the assessment is for your child then I will usually interview both you and your child, and generally, I like to interview your child’s teacher as well. This interview is very important as it gives me the context in which I can then interpret any test results. If possible it can be very useful for me also to review any relevant medical notes.
Usually I will then administer a range of different ‘neuropsychometric’ tests and measures that look at you or your child’s abilities in areas such as: attention and concentration, speed of processing, visuospatial skills, memory, language, and higher-order ‘executive’ functioning (i.e. ability to switch and divide attention, inhibit responses, plan, reason, problem-solve, organise and carry out tasks). The tests used will vary depending on what is being investigated. The reason for some of the tests will seem obvious to you at the time but others might seem more unusual. Everyone finds some of these tests easy and some of them much more difficult. I will usually not know the findings from the assessments until after the session when I have had a chance to analyse the information. Most people find the testing process interesting and there is no ‘pass or fail’, but for the testing to be accurate it is very important that you or your child try to perform at best on every task.
Sometimes it is possible to develop a psychological formulation from the interview and background information alone, or testing will not be appropriate at that time. A report can still be completed though, with conclusions and recommendations.
How long do they take?
These assessments usually take a few hours to complete. The time taken to complete the interview and tests can vary depending on what is being investigated and the current difficulties you or your child may be experiencing but is usually completed within a four hour period. Usually, this is done in one day, with time scheduled for breaks. On occasion the assessment will be broken up over two or more sessions across different days.
What happens then?
Once the assessment is completed I will write up a detailed report with the test results, my clinical formulation, and recommendations for what you could do next. This will be provided to ACC via either APM or Habit. I am unable to directly provide copies of the report but will arrange to provide feedback about the assessment findings with you. Often preliminary feedback can be completed at the end of the session.
Why undertake a neuropsychological assessment?
Although it is time-consuming, a neuropsychological assessment can often help answer specific questions about cognitive functioning much better than any other type of assessment. A neuropsychological assessment is especially important in trying to establish brain-behaviour relationships and untangle neurological/developmental factors from psychological factors. It also often allows for more detailed understanding and provides more tailored recommendations than many other assessments.