I offer comprehensive neuropsychological, psychological, educational, and psycho-educational evaluations for adolescents and adults. These can include personality, emotional, intellectual, academic, adaptive, and diagnostic (neuropsychological) measures to assess for—but not limited to—Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disabilities and gifted students, as well as medical and neurological issues such as concussions and traumatic brain injury.
There are many reasons to seek an evaluation, but it’s often recommended as a tool for determining cognitive strengths and weaknesses, assisting in treatment plans and goals, providing or clarifying a diagnosis, and offering a second opinion. I have all the requisite training and experience to practice this specialty area of psychology.
Some frequently asked questions about this type of evaluation:
What is a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with extensive specialized training in neuroscience, neuroanatomy, and brain-behavior relationships, as well as expertise in the association between learning/behavior and the development of brain structures and systems. In addition to obtaining a doctorate in psychology (such as a PhD or PsyD), which typically takes four to six years, a neuropsychologist receives further, more advanced training at the fellowship level, which takes an additional two years.
Neuropsychology fellowships vary in area (some neuropsychologists specialize in pediatrics only, others train in both adult and pediatric). Regardless of specialty area, a two-year fellowship is the accepted minimum requirement.
What is a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation is a thorough assessment of cognitive and behavioral functions, using standardized tests and procedures (none involving pain or needles). The testing can include answering questions, as well as paper-and-pencil, hands-on and sometimes computer activities.
A typical evaluation will assess various mental functions, such as but not limited to:
- General intellect
- Achievement skills (i.e. reading, math)
- Executive skills (planning, organization, mental flexibility)
- Learning and memory
- Visual-spatial skills
- Motor coordination
- Behavioral and emotional functioning
- Social skills
Some areas may be examined in more detail than others, depending on the client’s needs. A neuropsychological evaluation is not a boilerplate set of tests that can be given by just anyone. Specialized training is required so the professional can choose, administer, and interpret the particular tests that will most effectively assess the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
An extensive clinical interview is also conducted, and a developmental history is taken. An evaluation can last approximately six to eight hours, and can be completed in either one or over several appointments.
Afterwards, the practitioner will issue a report, including information obtained from the clinical interview, behavioral observations, a detailed description of the mental functions assessed, and the test results. The report will usually note the patient’s strengths and weaknesses.
Clinical impressions are also given—which can either offer a definitive diagnosis, or defer if a diagnosis cannot be made— and recommendations are provided. Most reports use medical jargon that is hard for most people to understand, so clarification to the patient is a critical part of the process. This provides an opportunity to discuss results and make a treatment plan.
When is a neuropsychological evaluation needed?
Patients are referred by a doctor, teacher, school psychologist, or other professional concerned about pre-existing or suspected problems, such as:
- Brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, sports activity (concussion), stroke, or infection.
- Exposure to toxins such as lead, mercury, or inhalants; cancer treatment with radiation or chemotherapy; alcohol in utero; substance abuse.
- Cognitive, behavioral, learning, social, or emotional difficulties yet to be identified.
What will I learn from the results? How will it help me?
The neuropsychologist creates a profile of your strengths and weaknesses by comparing your scores to those of others around your age. The results will help to plan your care. For example, testing can:
- Detect developmental, neurological, and medical problems, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, dyslexia, or a genetic disorder.
- Confirm or clarify a diagnosis.
- Serve as a baseline, which helps to document changes in functioning over time
- Result in referrals to other specialists according to need.
A neuropsychological evaluation has many uses. However, you should do your research by asking questions and getting information from reliable resources. You can call state and national psychological organizations, or visit them on the web.