A neuropsychological evaluation involves tests that are sensitive to problems in brain functioning. Unlike CT or MRI scans, which show brain structure, neuropsychological testing examines how well the brain is working when you perform certain functions, such as remembering. These functions or tasks formed the necessary building blocks of successful living. CT and MRI scans may not detect brain abnormalities that can impair many of these functions. But neuropsychological tests can reveal brain dysfunction when no structural abnormalities can be seen. When structural abnormalities have been found, neuropsychological tests provides a way to determine what functions may be impaired and the degree of impairment.
The neuropsychological evaluation provides comprehensive assessment of persons in whom impairments of cognitive or neuropsychiatric functioning are evident or suspected. Assessment involves a systematic evaluation of higher cognitive abilities to identify possible problems with brain functioning. This helps lead to a diagnosis, define strengths and weaknesses, and helps suggest best treatment options. An evaluation can help guide decisions on:
- prognosis and disposition planning
- rehabilitation issues
- ability to return to work
- ability to function independently
- tracking of change in function in overtime
- educational and vocational planning
A neuropsychological evaluation provides an assessment of persons in whom impairments of cognitive or neuropsychiatric functioning are evident or suspected.
Tests are not invasive; typically involve answering questions, solving problems, drawing, or working with materials on a table.
A wide range of conditions may affect neuropsychological functioning, such as:
- traumatic brain injury
- neurological conditions, including stroke, epilepsy, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
- medical condition such as liver disease, lupus, HIV infection, or cardiac disease.
- learning and developmental disorders
- attention deficit disorders
- various psychiatric conditions
- suspected memory problems or dementia
Types of tests used
The type of test use depend upon the questions you or your doctor have. The test may assess:
- attention and memory
- reasoning and problem-solving
- visual-spatial functions
- language function
- sensory perceptual functions
- motor functions
- academic skills
- emotional functioning
The tests are not invasive; that is, they do not involve attaching you two machines are using x-rays. Most of the tests involve answering questions, solving problems, drawing, or working with materials on the table. Some tests may use a computer, others may ask you to fill out forms and questionnaires. Testing may be performed by a neuropsychologist or a train staff member who will also talk with you and your family about your medical, personal, and school history. The time involved in your evaluation will depend upon the questions you and your doctor have. If you wear glasses or hearing aids, make sure you bring them with you. Also, if you have had previous testing, please bring any available records with you to the evaluation.
Feedback and Report
The clinical psychologist may schedule an appointment to review results with you and or may send you a written report. With your permission, the clinical psychologist may send the results to the doctor or healthcare provider who referred you. This doctor may talk to you about the results of testing on your next office visit. If asked, the neuropsychologist will give you specific recommendations to guide your treatment and help you in your daily life.
A staff member will return your call and ask a series of questions to determine how best to plan your initial appointment. Although we do conduct insurance benefit checking as a courtesy, we recommend that you contact your insurance to verify coverage of services prior to your evaluation. Some individuals may qualify for sliding-scale fees.
Forensic Psychology Services
Forensic psychology is the professional practice by psychologists within the areas of clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology or another specialty recognized, when they are engaged as experts and represent themselves as such, in an activity primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise to the judicial system. Specialized knowledge for the practice of forensic psychology is required in three areas. These are:
- Clinical (diagnosis, treatment, psychological testing, prediction and intervention measurement, epidemiology of mental disorders, ethics)
- Forensic (response style, forensic ethics, tools and techniques for assessing symptoms and capacities relevant to legal questions)
- Legal (knowledge of law and the legal system, knowledge of where and how to obtain relevant legal information)
Psychology and Law
Forensic psychologists address psychological problems and questions that arise in the course of legal proceedings. Such problems and questions are typically part of larger legal questions to be decided by the courts or other administrative bodies.
The legal issues can be divided into three main categories:
Those involved in civil litigation (personal injury suits, auto accident PTSD and brain damage workers compensation, civil commitment, discrimination ADA, worker compensation, sexual harassment, fitness for work duty)
Those involved in family law/court proceedings (child custody determination, parenting time evaluation, child alienation, reunification, termination of parental rights)
Those involved in criminal proceedings (competency, diminished capacity, diagnostics, malingering, violence risk assessment, court ordered evaluations)
Forensic psychologists address psychological problems and questions that arise in the course of legal proceedings.
Forensic psychology provides professional services to clinical/forensic and legal populations. The clinical forensic population is composed broadly of individuals who may present with mental or emotional disorders, or may have other characteristics, that are relevant to a legal decision. The synthesis of clinical and legal issues into psycho-legal issues distinguishes forensic populations from clinical populations. Forensic psychological services are also provided, in the form of consultations, to legal and administrative populations, including courts, attorneys and other administrative bodies.
Procedures and Services
The procedures and techniques of forensic psychology focus on the evaluation and treatment of clinical disorders and other relevant characteristics in a legal context, and on providing reports, expert testimony and consultations on relevant findings.
A forensic psychological assessment includes:
- includes interviews (a mental status exam, psychosocial history)
- administration of standardized psychological tests (which produce reliable, valid and reproducible results)
To be comprehensive, a forensic assessment needs to examine a range of psychological factors, including:
- emotional, social
- cognitive, intellectual, executive, and neuropsychological
- developmental, educational
- biological, organic, physiological
The overall goal for the assessment is to provide the basis for inferring antecedent and dynamic factors that can help to explain specific actions, and to make recommendations pertinent to the legal issues at hand.