What does a neuropsychologist do?

Neuropsychologists evaluate and treat people with various types of nervous system disorders. They work closely with doctors, including neurologists.

Illnesses, injuries, and diseases of the brain and nervous system can affect the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. Symptoms that may call for a neuropsychologist include:

  • memory difficulties
  • mood disturbances
  • learning difficulties
  • nervous system dysfunction

If other doctors can’t identify the cause of a symptom, a neuropsychologist can help determine a diagnosis. If a diagnosis is already known, an assessment can still be helpful.

A neuropsychologist can help determine what impairments you might have and how severe they are. The following are examples of conditions they evaluate and treat:

  • A stroke can affect behaviour, thinking, memory, and other brain functions in obvious or subtle ways. They can perform an evaluation to help determine the degree of stroke impairment.
  • Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder, can cause several neurological problems. A neuropsychologist’s exam can provide a baseline to help them determine disease progression and decreased function.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can interfere with memory, personality, and cognitive abilities. A neuropsychologist can perform an exam to help them identify it in its early stage.
  • Traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide variety of symptoms. A neuropsychologist can help determine how an injury affects functions like reasoning or problem-solving skills.
  • A neuropsychologist can help determine which of the many types of learning disabilities someone has and develop a treatment plan.

Typical neuropsychological procedures

The nervous system is complex. Neuropsychologists use different types of procedures to identify problems and treatment plans. Typical procedures they perform include:

Neuropsychological evaluation

This evaluation is an assessment of how your brain functions. The evaluation will include an interview and questions that will help outline your performance of daily tasks, as well as identify memory issues and mental health concerns. The interview will also cover information on symptoms, medical history, and medications you take.

An evaluation includes different types of standardized tests to measure many areas of brain function, including:

  • memory
  • cognitive ability
  • personality
  • problem-solving
  • reasoning
  • emotions
  • personality

Brain scans, such as CT or MRI scans, can also help a neuropsychologist make a diagnosis.

Understanding results

Your neuropsychologist will compare your test results with those of other people with a similar education and age.

Evaluation and test results may help determine the cause of an issue when other methods don’t work. Tests can even help identify mild thinking and memory issues, which may be subtle.

Neuropsychologists help develop a treatment plan by understanding how the brain functions and how that functioning relates to behaviour. Treatment plans may include medication, rehabilitation therapy, or surgery.

Outlook

A neuropsychologist can help diagnose a cognitive, behavioural, or neurological condition. Seeing a neuropsychologist and completing their tests can lead to a deeper understanding of your condition. When other doctors might not be able to diagnose an issue, consider seeing a neuropsychologist.

Neuropsychologist

What is a neuropsychologist?

A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who specializes in understanding the relationship between the physical brain and behavior. The brain is complex. Disorders within the brain and nervous system can alter behavior and cognitive function.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the role of a neuropsychologist is to understand how brain structures and systems relate to behavior and thinking.

Neuropsychologists have a doctorate in psychology and training in neuropsychology. They often work in research or clinical settings.

What does a neuropsychologist do?

Neuropsychologists evaluate and treat people with various types of nervous system disorders. They work closely with doctors, including neurologists.

Illnesses, injuries, and diseases of the brain and nervous system can affect the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves. Symptoms that may call for a neuropsychologist include:

  • memory difficulties
  • mood disturbances
  • learning difficulties
  • nervous system dysfunction

If other doctors can’t identify the cause of a symptom, a neuropsychologist can help determine a diagnosis. If a diagnosis is already known, an assessment can still be helpful.

A neuropsychologist can help determine what impairments you might have and how severe they are. The following are examples of conditions they evaluate and treat:

  • A stroke can affect behaviour, thinking, memory, and other brain functions in obvious or subtle ways. They can perform an evaluation to help determine the degree of stroke impairment.
  • Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder, can cause several neurological problems. A neuropsychologist’s exam can provide a baseline to help them determine disease progression and decreased function.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can interfere with memory, personality, and cognitive abilities. A neuropsychologist can perform an exam to help them identify it in its early stage.
  • Traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide variety of symptoms. A neuropsychologist can help determine how an injury affects functions like reasoning or problem-solving skills.
  • A neuropsychologist can help determine which of the many types of learning disabilities someone has and develop a treatment plan.

Typical neuropsychological procedures

The nervous system is complex. Neuropsychologists use different types of procedures to identify problems and treatment plans. Typical procedures they perform include:

Neuropsychological evaluation

This evaluation is an assessment of how your brain functions. The evaluation will include an interview and questions that will help outline your performance of daily tasks, as well as identify memory issues and mental health concerns. The interview will also cover information on symptoms, medical history, and medications you take.

An evaluation includes different types of standardized tests to measure many areas of brain function, including:

  • memory
  • cognitive ability
  • personality
  • problem-solving
  • reasoning
  • emotions
  • personality

Brain scans, such as CT or MRI scans, can also help a neuropsychologist make a diagnosis.

Understanding results

Your neuropsychologist will compare your test results with those of other people with a similar education and age.

Evaluation and test results may help determine the cause of an issue when other methods don’t work. Tests can even help identify mild thinking and memory issues, which may be subtle.

Neuropsychologists help develop a treatment plan by understanding how the brain functions and how that functioning relates to behaviour. Treatment plans may include medication, rehabilitation therapy, or surgery.

Outlook

A neuropsychologist can help diagnose a cognitive, behavioral, or neurological condition. Seeing a neuropsychologist and completing their tests can lead to a deeper understanding of your condition. When other doctors might not be able to diagnose an issue, consider seeing a neuropsychologist.

Counselling

Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk to a trained professional about your issues and concerns. Your therapist will help you explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours so you can develop a better understanding of yourself and of others.

A counsellor will not give you their opinions or advice or prescribe medication. They will help you find your own solutions – whether that’s making effective changes in your life or finding ways of coping with your problems.

What happens in counselling

Counselling can take different forms depending on your needs and what type of therapy may be suitable.

Most therapy takes place in planned, regular sessions which last for around 50 minutes. How often you see your therapist and how many appointments you have will depend on your individual circumstances, and will be agreed between you and your therapist.

You might see a counsellor on your own, as a couple or family, or in a group with people who have similar issues. You might meet them face to face in their home, offices or clinic, or talk to them online or over the telephone.

During a session, your therapist may take you through specific exercises designed to help with your problem, or you might have more general discussions about how you’re feeling. What you talk about will vary depend on what you want help with and the therapist’s approach. It could include:

  • your relationships
  • your childhood
  • your feelings, emotions or thoughts
  • your behaviour
  • past and present life events
  • situations you find difficult

Your therapist will be impartial but understanding. They will listen to you without judgment and help you explore your thoughts and emotions. They may offer information, but they won’t tell you what you should think or do.

What to expect in your first counselling session

Each counsellor has their own way of starting therapy but a first session should always cover:

  • Introductions
    Your therapist should spend a few minutes introducing themselves and explaining how they work. You can ask them about their qualifications and experience, your therapy or anything you’re not sure about. Your therapist will want to make sure you feel at ease by sorting out basic things like where you would like to sit, and whether you use first names or are more formal.
  • Assessment
    Your therapist may ask you if you would like to give a history of the problems you’re experiencing. They might want you to complete some forms, or go through information they’ve received about you, such as a letter from your GP. Or they may just ask you to ‘tell your story’. It’s important that you feel you’ve had the opportunity to tell the therapist about what’s troubling you.
  • Contracting
    Your therapist should agree the terms, or contract with you, about how they will provide their services. This may be either a verbal agreement or a printed document for you both to sign.

This first session is important for making sure that you feel comfortable with your therapist and their way of working. You don’t have to continue with a therapist if you can’t relate to them or don’t feel safe.

How to get the most out of your therapy

You’ll get the best results from your therapy if you’re open and honest with your therapist and say how you’re really feeling.

Your relationship with your therapist is very important. If you’re to work effectively together, you should feel safe and able to take risks by disclosing and discussing sensitive issues. That includes being able to give them honest feedback on how you feel about your therapy and how you’re working together.

There are many different types of therapist and therapy, so if you’re unsure about your therapist or their approach, you can look for another one.

Anxious Thoughts

Photo by Tim Samuel on Pexels.com

This is a poem that was never finished. It was written during an episode of intense anxiety. I thank God that it passed, so I never finished writing it. I’m a religious teenage girl, so I reference God in most of my poems. If anyone can relate to any feelings that I’ve had, I hope this helps them.

Struggling To Breathe

I’m feeling so scared,
I can’t breathe but I must.
Thinking so many thoughts,
Trying so hard to trust.

These fears are irrational,
But I can’t make them stop.
I just wish that they’d leave,
That my heart rate would drop.

I can’t catch my breath,
My heart’s running a race,
Against my emotions,
Struggling to keep pace.

I struggle to breathe,
But each sound makes it worse.
My world seems so dark,
I’m trying to reverse.

Away from the triggers,
Away from the pain,
All my muscles are tense,
Why can’t it be explained?

There is no good reason,
But I can’t press pause.
I don’t think this is normal,
I can’t find the cause.

God, I need you,
I can’t live on my own
You’re the only one who knows
Where my fears are sewn.

Why do they come?
What’s the cause of this pain?
I want to let go,
But I can’t just the same.

I try to calm down,
But my fears just won’t quit.
I can’t find air to breathe.
I’m stuck in this pit.