Neuropsychology and Psychological Services
Clinical Neuropsychology is a field of psychology that specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with various brain injury, disorders and conditions.
Different brain injuries and disorders can affect the regions of the brain in various ways, and this in turn uniquely affects cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social functioning.
Clinical Neuropsychologists use information collected from interviews, questionnaires, reports and objective standardised testing examining a variety of cognitive skills (i.e., memory and learning, attention, language, mental speed, problem solving) to develop a profile of a person’s cognitive strengths and weakness as well as identify the presence of any changes in cognitive functioning.
Clinical Neuropsychology also evaluates how changes in cognition, behaviour and emotion can affect a person’s ability to function in day to day life (i.e., drive a car, make important decisions, return to work/study) as well as how to minimize this impact through cognitive rehabilitation (i.e., Memory Training) or management.
There are a number of reasons a person may require a Neuropsychological Assessment including:
- Establishing or clarifying a diagnosis or differentiating between two or more conditions (particularly if problems are subtle) and not otherwise able to be diagnosed using current neuroimaging procedures. For example determining if cognitive impairment is due to a mental health condition (i.e., depression or anxiety) or cognitive impairment is due to neurodegenerative disease (i.e. Alzheimer’s dementia).
- Determining cognitive strengths and weaknesses (i.e. for employment or rehabilitation purposes)
- Baseline/Review Assessment – to monitor cognitive changes over time (i.e., change in medication, following an accident or neurosurgery).
- Increase understanding of the impact of a brain injury on an individual’s level of function.
- Guiding return to work, study or rehabilitation planning.
- Identifying strategies that may assist performance and help improve quality of life.
- Determine decision-making capacity, testamentary capacity or need for guardianship/financial management for the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
- Demonstrating how well an individual is recovering from an acquired brain injury
- Neurodegenerative conditions (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease)
- Traumatic or Acquired Brain Injury (i.e., following motor vehicle accidents, falls and assault)
- Neurological conditions (i.e., Stroke, tumours, epilepsy and arteriovenous malformations)
- Inflammatory diseases implicating the central nervous system (i.e., Multiple Sclerosis)
- Neuropsychiatric and mood disorders (i.e., schizophrenia, depression and anxiety)
- Brain injury following hypoxia and long-term alcohol abuse
- Other medical issues that affect cognitive function (i.e., renal impairment and autoimmune diseases).
Cognitive rehabilitation, is based on a problem-solving framework, and is a term used to describe training given to individuals who have had a brain injury, in order to address and improve specific cognitive abilities that are impaired. This is typically undertaken to support and improve an individual’s return to work, maintain their independence in managing activities of daily living and support optimal functioning and quality of life. For example individuals who have had a stroke, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury or other non-progressive neurological conditions, often complain of chronic memory problems. Group based memory training is one such example of cognitive rehabilitation.
The “Making the Most of your Memory” Training program, is an empirically validated 6-week session program (2 hrs/weekly session), designed to help people develop practical knowledge and skills to address their everyday memory concerns, such as remembering names, previous conversations or events as well as failures to remember to carry out planned activities. The program was developed to meet the needs and memory concerns of patients with various non-progressive neurological disorders, including traumatic brain injury, stroke and epilepsy.
Whilst increasing understanding of memory problems, the program is designed to promote self-awareness and self-efficacy.
The training program is based on the neuropsychological literature for memory rehabilitation, particularly focusing on compensatory memory strategies. It is also based upon training approaches and strategies from the fields of clinical psychology, experimental learning and cognitive neurosciences. There were several key themes used in the development of the program including functional memory processes (i.e., attention/encoding, storage and retrieval); compensatory memory strategies (i.e., internal/mental strategies and external aids); and psychoeducation (i.e., lifestyle factors including nutrition, exercise and sleep as well as mood).
General Psychology is a field of Psychology involved in the study of mental behaviours and psychological functioning, which can involve the assessment and treatment of mental illness, behavioural and other psychological problems including anxiety, depression, adjustment problems, grief and loss, family and relationship conflict, isolation and loneliness and personality problems.
General Psychologists use information collected from interviews, questionnaires, reports and observation to develop a profile of a person’s mental and psychological status and then determine the most appropriate therapeutic treatment for the person (i.e., cognitive behavioural therapy, goal setting, behavioural activation, problem solving, acceptance and commitment therapy, motivational interviewing, relaxation, mindfulness training.)
Individual Psychological treatment is offered to adults and older adults for a range of psychological concerns including:
- Anxiety (including generalised anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder etc.)
- Mild to moderate depression and mood problems
- Grief and Bereavement
- Adjustment problems (i.e., neurological condition or diagnosis, life stage change, relationship breakdown, change of job etc.)
- Emotional and behavioural problems
- Self-esteem and self-confidence problems
- Work and relationship problems
- Sleep problems