- What is a clinical neuropsychologist?
Clinical Neuropsychologists are psychologists trained in the functioning of the brain across the lifespan, and the impact of changes in brain functioning on everyday thinking, behaviour and emotions. They apply this knowledge to provide assessment, treatment, rehabilitation and consultation to clients, their families and support team.
In Australia, Clinical Neuropsychologists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency (AHPRA) and follow the Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics.
- What does a neuropsychology assessment involve?
Neuropsychology assessment involves three parts. Firstly, there is the interview that focuses on the person’s medical background, their current concerns, and the effect of these issues on everyday life. The interview is also used to gain an impression of the person’s level of functioning in the past. Typically, we will also speak to someone who knows the person well, like a family member or support worker, to include their perspective.
The second part of the assessment is the tasks of concentration, memory and thinking skills, mood and behaviour. There is no ‘pass or fail’ on the assessment tasks. Performance on each test is compared against expected performances for the person’s age and education to provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses.
Thirdly, the neuropsychologist combines the results with the relevant history to write a report to clarify diagnosis and to provide relevant and practical recommendations.
- How long do neuropsychology assessments take and what to I need to bring?
Assessments typically take between 2.5 – 4 hours to complete with breaks. If you need glasses or hearing aides, you should bring them with you. It can also be helpful if a family member or support worker who knows you well accompanies you for the first part of the assessment (interview and history taking) until you feel comfortable. Typically, we prefer that your support person does not stay during the assessment tasks, as too many people in the room can be distracting. We will also ask if we can contact your support person by phone or telehealth after the assessment.
- Why is a neuropsychology assessment helpful?
Some reasons you might want a neuropsychology assessment are:
- to understand a person’s current strengths and weaknesses and ways to support the person at home and in the community, to help with work, school or study or rehabilitation programs
- to clarify their eligibility for support and services (e.g NDIS, Disability Support Pension (DSP), special consideration and/ or examination arrangements for VCE, Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)
- to inform a behaviour support plan (by enabling us to make reasonable assessments of what a person is capable of)
- to help determine someone’s capacity to make reasoned informed decisions (such as decisions about their accommodation, health or spending).
- to diagnose the presence, type or severity of acquired brain injury or other brain condition e.g dementia
- to clarify whether changes in thinking and behaviour are due to other factors such as mood, illness, stress, fatigue or medication effects.
- to provide a baseline for measuring changes in thinking skills over time
- to provide expert opinion to a court or tribunal on a person’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, diagnosis, prognosis and recommendations for treatment.
- What is a neuropsychology intervention?
Neuropsychology interventions can be very different with each person, depending on what is important to them and their support people. We spend time talking with the person and their support team and helping them with brainstorming goals that they would like to achieve.
Neuropsychologists help with a variety of things, including:
- Minimising the impact of changes in thinking and memory in everyday life
- Minimising the severity and impact of behaviour change
- Improving mood and emotional wellbeing
- Adjusting to changes resulting from a brain injury. Providing insight, support and new strategies for life’s challenges, for personal exploration and growth.
- Understanding how factors other than brain injury (e.g mood, stress, fatigue medications) are impacting on thinking and memory
- Returning to activities or transitioning to new activities e.g work and study
- Supporting people to understand brain injury and changes in thinking, behaviour and emotions. Establishing consistent and positive approaches to managing these changes.
- Are neuropsychology services right for me?
Seeking out support is an individual choice and can be beneficial for a number for reasons.
Sometimes it is to assist with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as brain injury, mental health challenges, or return to work. Many seek the advice of a neuropsychologist as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth.
Working with a neuropsychologist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges.
- Do you offer telehealth/online services?
- Are my sessions confidential?
When you start receiving a service from Diverge, a record is made containing your contact details, and other information such as the purpose of the sessions, the advice you were given and the plan for future sessions. Every time we make contact, new information is added to your record.
The purpose of collecting and retaining this information is to provide you with a relevant and informed service. All personal information gathered by the neuropsychologist will remain confidential, except where:
- You or your legal guardian have given us consent to provide written reports or discuss relevant issues with other people (e.g your doctor, lawyer, service provider or family member)
- information is subpoenaed by a court, or if disclosure is required or authorised by law; or
- failure to disclose information would place you or another person at serious and imminent risk.
- Who pays for neuropsychology services?
Diverge is a registered provider with the Transport Accident Commission, WorkCover, DHHS and Corrections Victoria and provides services as an unregistered provider to NDIS clients who are plan-managed or self-managed, Most services are covered by those providers. Some people pay the cost privately.
For counselling services, some people have a mental health care plan, which means that they can get a rebate from Medicare. There is currently no Medicare rebate for neuropsychology assessment. You can contact us to chat about the cost further.
- Do you provide medicolegal assessment?
Yes, we have neuropsychologists experienced in providing expert opinion to courts and tribunals, for example on a person’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, diagnosis, prognosis and recommendations for treatment.
- Do you provide professional supervision?
Yes, we provide professional supervision to other psychologists, including to registrars to complete their endorsement in clinical neuropsychology. Please contact us for more details.
- Do you provide training?
Yes. We can provide client-specific training sessions, or more general training, workshops and mentoring on acquired brain injury, behaviour support, complex cases and more. Please see our training page for further details.