In order to get the best and most successful recovery from a brain injury, you will likely utilize a neuropsychologist. A good question: what is neuropsychology? Neuropsychology comes from the Greek words “neuron” [meaning “nerve”] “psyche” [meaning “mind”] and “logos” [meaning “the study of”]. Put together, you have “the study of mind and nerves.”
Neuropsychology is concerned with the study of the relationship between the central nervous system (brain and spine) and behavior. Neuropsychology also involves studying ways to measure recovery from brain damage as well as strategies that can be used to rehabilitate (make better) people with such disorders and to improve their care.
Neuropsychologists have extensive training in the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system. They use a variety of psychological tests and assessment techniques to diagnose specific disorders of the brain. These disorders often result in problems with thinking, emotions, and/or behavior. Neuropsychologists study ways to measure recovery from brain damage as well as strategies to rehabilitate (make better) people with brain damage and improve their care.
Neuropsychologists can provide psychotherapy (a psychological treatment through talking) to patients with brain damage and try to understand ways in which a patient’s environment (for example, family) improve or worsen a brain damaged patient’s overall condition. Although neuropsychologists also study the functioning of the spine, most neuropsychologists focus on the functioning of the brain.
Neuropsychologists also teach courses in colleges and universities about neuropsychology, intelligence testing, personality testing, and/or other topics. Many neuropsychologists conduct research to better understand the functioning of the brain. They usually do this by studying brain damaged patients and comparing them to patients who have not suffered brain damage.
In a legal setting, a neuropsychologist may testify that a patient’s performance on a series of tests shows that he/she suffered a brain injury that resulted in significant deficits in thinking abilities after being involved in a trauma such as being hit by a car.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST?
The following is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of the questions or concerns you should have when choosing a neuropsychologist nor is the following meant to disqualify any neuropsychologist you are considering, these are meant to enable you to begin a discussion with the neuropsychologist.
1. Does the neuropsychologist should have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from an accredited university or college?
2. Did the neuropsychologist complete coursework in other neurosciences such as neuroanatomy (the study of the structure of the brain and spinal cord) and neuropathology (the study of disorders of the brain and spinal cord)?
3. Did the neuropsychologist attend a graduate school program that complies with the guidelines for neuropsychological training set forth by Division 40 (Neuropsychology) of the American Psychological Association? For further information, go to http://www.div40.org/
4. Did the neuropsychologist do an internship (supervised training at the end of graduate school) at a program that meets the guidelines set forth by Division 40 of the American Psychological Association and the International Neuropsychological Society.
5. Is the neuropsychologist Board Certified? One who is board certified has been agreed upon by a board (group) of peers (other neuropsychologists) to meet the rigorous standards necessary to practice neuropsychology, and has achieved the highest level of education possible in this field. To assure that you are being served by a neuropsychologist who is competent to practice neuropsychology, it is usually recommended that you see a board-certified neuropsychologist.