What the Heck is Neuropsychology Anyway?!

Neuropsychology is a glance into what makes you, you

There is a curious trend happening in the neurosciences. More and more professionals are coming forward and expressing doubt over whether the field has any practical applicability to mental health or daily activities. This makes perfect sense: neuroscience is a field that is based on veracity and repeatable results -- ask any person to recreate his or her sense of self and you’ll quickly understand just how daunting of a task that truly is.

However, “neuroscience” is an extremely vague term. There are multiple subfields and specialties which ask the same questions using different methods; neuropsychology is amongst these subfields.

Specifically, neuropsychology is the systematic study of brain and behavior relationships. A clinical or cognitive (research) neuropsychologist is generally armed with a “battery” or host of assessments meant to see how an individual’s brain works. Major existential questions notwithstanding, this creates a level of actionability not seen in its sister sciences.

A good clinician looks at everything a person does in a situation; assessments don’t begin at the stated appointment, but as soon as contact is initiated. How do they sound over the phone? How do they look when they walk into the office? Are they shifting around constantly or staying deathly still? Does their face appear congruent (in line with) the situation or is it flat/strained? As the experience continues, the clinician gets a grand purview of the individual and can make diagnostic judgments or suggestions on how to improve their quality of life. 

The short list of domains of interest to a neuropsychologist are as follows:

  • Attention and Concentration
  • Sensorimotor Speed
  • Executive Functioning
  • Language Functioning
  • Perceptual/Organizational Functioning
  • Visual and Verbal Memory/Learning Styles
  • Processing Speed
  • Personality Functioning

Using the aforementioned test materials, the clinician sets forth on a generating an image of the individual’s mind, noting both strengths and weaknesses. 

Why neuropsychology is relevant to you

Many neuropsychologists prefer to remain strictly assessment based -- that is, they form part of a rehabilitation team along with an occupational or physical therapist, treating physician, and psychiatrist. However, there has been a push in recent years for more neuropsychologists to provide treatment like psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy as well. This is due to the privileged position these professionals find themselves in: they possess the empirically consistent efficacy of the neurosciences along with the clinical modalities utilized in other psychology organizations. 

My favorite quote at the moment is, “you do not see the world as it is, you see is as you are.” This is beyond true. Folks who struggle with certain types of information may be prone to frustration and consequently, find themselves painting a bleak picture of the world around them. Others, susceptible to anxiety or overstimulation, may find themselves terrified of large social gatherings. These become pinnacles of their personality and craft their versions of reality. 

When a neuropsychologist gives an evaluation, he or she will see these tendencies and come up with appropriate suggestions or interventions.

Its not difficult to see how this can be extended outside of the clinic!

While we may not all suffer from serious ailments, we all have idiosyncrasies that dictate the directions in our lives. How liberating would it be to get a deep understanding of yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, and learning style, and craft more evolved responses to the world around you?

How empowering would it be to understand things about your co-workers that could help drive production on your extremely important project or help elucidate why Jim in Accounting is such a jerk all the time?

Imagine sending your child to a place where highly knowledgeable professionals could help them make decisions about what career path to follow and, more importantly, how to follow it! The economic value of this proposition is innumerable. Everyday freshly minted college graduates are entering a cold, unsympathetic work force without a clue about what they’re good at! Unfortunately, Sallie Mae does not care about Amber needing time to “figure out her calling."

In short, neuropsychology has a great deal of applicability to one’s daily life. While many of our colleagues ponder the deep workings of the human in the universe, we can make some of their insights actionable in your lives today. You don’t need to suffer a blow to the head, stroke, or psychological breakdown to require the services of a neuropsychologist.

We provide services that make your life much easier. By gaining insight into yourself, you are in a much better position to navigate the world around you.