Clinical neuropsychology is a discipline of psychology that specialises in the clinical assessment and treatment of patients with brain injury or neurocognitive deficits.
Typically, a clinical neuropsychologist will hold an advanced degree in clinical psychology (in most countries this requires a doctorate level qualification) and will have completed further studies in neuropsychology. This usually involves the completion of an internship (or residency) with substantial training in clinical neuropsychology, as well as a post-doctoral fellowship in the same field.
What distinguishes a clinical neuropsychologist from other clinical psychologists is an extensive knowledge of the brain, including an understanding of areas such as neuroanatomy, neurobiology, psychopharmacology, neurological illness or injury, the use of neuropsychological tests to accurately assess cognitive deficits, and the management, treatment and rehabiliation of brain injured and neurocognitively impaired patients.
Clinical neuropsychologists perform a number of tasks, usually within a clinical setting. They are often involved in conducting neuropsychological assessments to gage a person's cognitive skills, usually after some sort of brain injury or neurological impairment. This may be for the purposes of planning treatments, to gauge someone's cognitive functioning or mental capacity (often done for presentation as evidence in court cases or legal proceedings) or to detect change over time.
A clinical neuropsychologist's typical case load may include people with traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) such as stroke and aneurysm ruptures, brain tumours, epilepsy/seizure disorders, dementias, mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia), and a wide range of developmental disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, autism and Tourette's syndrome.
Clinical neuropsychologists whose training has included methods of psychotherapy and counselling can also provide therapeutic services to patients in need of education and emotional support concerning their neurological injuries or illness.
Many clinical neuropsychologists are employed by hospitals, especially neurology, psychiatry and rehabilitation facilities, and some work in private practice. They are frequently active in teaching at the university level and conducting research into a wide range of issues concerning human brain-behavior relationships.
The practice of cognitive neuropsychology and cognitive neuropsychiatry involves studying the cognitive effects of injury or illness to understand normal psychological function. Because of their day-to-day contact with people with brain impairment, many clinical neuropsychologists are active in these research fields.
- Broks, P. (2003) Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology. ISBN 0871139014
- Halligan, P.W., Kischka, U, & Marshall, J.C. (Eds.) (2003) Handbook of Clinical Neuropsychology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198508018
Last updated: 05-07-2005 04:12:01
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04