Frequently Asked Questions
The Answers You Need
What Is a Neuropsychologist?
A Neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist (usually a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.) with expertise in the relationship between your brain and your behavior.
While they may work in a variety of settings, having many different roles, ultimately they conduct evaluations, interpret results, and make recommendations based on their findings. Many times neuropsychologists work closely with physicians, schools, and support services to improve or accommodate for weaknesses in brain functioning.
What Is a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Have you ever wondered what your strengths and weaknesses were?
Have you wished you had a "cheat sheet" to your brain so that you were able to work more efficiently?
Have you (or your child) had an injury (e.g., concussion, motor vehicle accident) or a neurological condition and wondered how your brain was affected?
These are all questions that neuropsychologists are trained to answer. Thanks to advances in brain imaging and research in the field of neuroscience, we are now able to determine which parts of the brain are responsible for everyday functions like learning and memory.
Neuropsychologists use paper-and-pencil, computerized, and interactive activities to determine how your brain processes information, known as a neuropsychological evaluation. The results from these measures give us insight into how a brain thinks, learns, and functions.
What Does An Evaluation Measure?
A neuropsychological evaluation can measure many different areas including attention, problem-solving, memory, language, IQ, visual-spatial skills, academic skills, and social-emotional functioning.
How Can an Evaluation Be Helpful?
Children and adults are referred for an evaluation for a number of reasons such as:
Brain injury from a concussion, accident, or other type of trauma
Difficulties with learning, memory, attention, language, controlling one's emotions, efficiency or completing tasks, or in any area of their lives
Developmental or acquired problems that affect the brain
To help with diagnosis or to determine if mental or cognitive changes are due to normal aging, mood (depression, anxiety, etc), neurological illness, or other causes.
To determine cognitive strengths and weaknesses
To establish a baseline (such as before and after medical or surgical treatment to determine if cognitive abilities were affected or if participating in competitive sports to give information pre and post concucssion)
If you or your child are struggling in any particular area of life and despite your effort, things are not improving, you will find an evaluation helpful. Below are several examples:
You or your child are having difficulties in school
You suspect there are learning or processing difficulties that are not improving even with support
You're struggling to complete tasks at work efficiently
You or your child's medical doctor or therapist need additional information about what is happening or how a specific diagnosis is impacting your brain
You or your child have received a new diagnosis and you are not sure what it means
You or your child have previously been evaluated and want to see what progress (if any) has been made
You've suffered a concussion, vehicular accident, medical intervention and feel as though things are "off"
Changes in short-term memory
Poor attention or concentration
Poor judgment or decision-making
Unexplained change in personality or an increase in anxiety, depression, development of delusions or hallucinations
Will I Get a Diagnosis?
Neuropsychologists are qualified to diagnose a wide variety of conditions including (but not limited to):
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD)
Mood and Personality Disorders
How Does a Neuropsychological Evaluation Differ from a School Psychological Assessment?
School assessments often seek to determine if a child qualifies for special education services and focus on achievement. Typically, these assessments do not result in formal diagnoses. However, a neuropsychological evaluation looks at many different skills and can provide specific diagnoses and lend insight into why things are happening and how to improve them.
What Happens During an Evaluation?
An evaluation typically includes multiple steps:
Consultation: During this step, we will discuss the concerns that you are having and how an evaluation can be helpful. An assessment plan is then designed to specifically address your needs.
Testing: The evaluation may take place over a number of hours or days in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of your concerns and your brain functioning. During this time, a number of interactive tasks are completed and can involve solving puzzles, building, looking at pictures, drawing, completing academic tasks, and memorizing things.
What Happens After the Testing?
Once testing is complete, we will have a feedback session. During this conversation, the results of the testing experience are broken down and shared in detail. This is where you are able to obtain a "cheat sheet" to your brain and get answers as to how to improve.
Following the feedback, a written summary or report is provided for your records. You are encouraged to share the report with your treatment team and providers.
How Should I Prepare for the Examination?
Bring previous records (any testing completed in the past)
Bring your glasses, contacts, hearing aids
Have a list of medications (or bring them with you!)
EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST! It'll be a long day.
Get a good night's sleep. Your brain needs to be ready to work!