Description of Neuropsychological and Psychological Assessment
My comprehensive neuropsychological assessment is a three-pronged examination of a person’s cognitive, mental, and psychological functions from several different perspectives.
The first prong is the face-to-face patient interview. With children the first interview is with the parents without the child present. The interview process, rather than focusing exclusively on historical background information such as work history, medical history, treatment history, etc., is focused on helping the patient and parent organize what exactly they would like answered by the evaluation. The interview process takes one or several hours. Typically interviews are one-on-one, but they can involve members of the patient’s family, other individuals who know the patient, and/or the patient’s therapist or doctor (if they are currently in treatment) if indicated. Background information is also obtained in a questionnaire completed by the patient or family members. In some instances the interview phase of the assessment is completed by the referring psychiatrist or neurologist.
The second prong of the evaluation includes administration of a broad range of tests. These tests include a wide range of cognitive measures, including tests of:
- Sensory perception
- Information processing
- Auditory and other sensory processing
- Motor skills
- Academic skills
- Attention and concentration
- Executive functioning (including measures of self-regulation and higher-order thinking)
- Visual perceptual skills
- Language functions
Also included are tests of personality and emotional and psychological functioning. These tests provide the context in which the cognitive results can be best understood. They describe symptom patterns, features of interpersonal relationships, current levels of stress, the individual’s capacity to control themselves, how the individual perceives themselves and others, their ability to regulate affect, how effectively they process information, how accurately they perceive others and the events around them, and how they think about the experiences that they have. All tests of emotional functioning include measures of test approach reliability and validity.
The third prong of the evaluation includes measures of behavior. Behavior inventories are given to the patient and/or to people familiar with the patient (parents, teachers, or friends). These inventories are then completed and provide valuable behavioral data. Any observations made during testing are also taken into account.
Once all the data is collected, areas of convergence between all the measures are closely examined and brought into focus. This data is then used to provide a working diagnosis, to answer questions asked by the patient in the interview process, and to facilitate the development of an effective treatment plan. In cases where the comprehensive assessment is part of an overarching psychiatric or neurological evaluation this final integration is typically performed by the psychiatrist or neurologist.