Neuropsychology is a scientific discipline which bridges the fields of neurology and psychology in order to understand brain-behavior relations. This discipline includes researchers, educators, and clinicians.
A clinical neuropsychologist is a doctoral-level licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills are related to brain structures and systems. In clinical neuropsychology, memory, attention, and other thinking skills are tested objectively. Emotions, mood, and behavior may also be assessed. As part of the evaluation, a careful history of the individual’s developmental, medical, psychological, educational, and social history is obtained. The identified pattern of strengths and weaknesses is used for important healthcare purposes, such as diagnosis and treatment planning.
The clinical neuropsychologist conducts the evaluation, analyzes and interprets findings, and provides recommendations. He or she may also provide treatment, such as cognitive rehabilitation, behavior management, or psychotherapy. Often, the neuropsychologist works in consultation with a physician or therapists (psychotherapists, speech/language pathologists, or occupational therapists) in managing the healthcare of patients. Neuropsychologists strive to work closely with patients’ family members, as circumstances allow.
Some clinical neuropsychologists work with children, some work with adults, and some work with people across the lifespan. Pediatric neuropsychology is a professional specialty concerned with learning and behavior in relationship to a child’s developing brain. The pediatric neuropsychologist may work in a variety of settings and may have different roles in the care of a child or adolescent. Sometimes, after completing an evaluation and making diagnoses and treatment recommendations, the pediatric neuropsychologist continues to work with the child and family over time to adjust recommendations to meet the child’s changing needs. In addition to collaborating with other healthcare professionals, some pediatric neuropsychologists work closely with schools to help them provide appropriate educational programs for the child. Neuropsychologists who work with adults may also work in a variety of settings and have various roles in the care of the adult or elder adult. These neuropsychologists often assess and treat people who have memory problems, cognitive or mood changes, and developmental and acquired neurological problems.