In my recent blog ‘What is neuropsychology?’, I outlined that neuropsychology is often described as the study of brain-behaviour relationships and that clinical neuropsychologists have advanced knowledge of those relationships. In a second blog I described some of the ways a neuropsychological assessment can be helpful. The knowledge of brain-behaviour relationships, combined with the results of a neuropsychological assessment, allows clinical neuropsychologists to gain an individualised understanding of how a brain-based condition is impacting your cognitive function and day-to-day life. Subsequently, they can make recommendations for interventions; this blog will focus on how neuropsychological intervention can help.
A neuropsychological intervention will be individualised based on your concerns, needs, and goals and on the results from your neuropsychological assessment. Intervention aims to reduce the impact of cognitive impairments on day-to-day functioning and improve your quality of life.
The intervention could include:
Psychoeducation: Learning about the nature of any cognitive difficulties you have can help you adjust to those difficulties. Once you understand more about any changes to your thinking skills, your clinical neuropsychologist can help you notice how they impact your functioning day-to-day. You may also gain information about the range of factors that could be contributing to cognitive difficulties such as mood, anxiety, sleep, and fatigue. Learning about your cognitive difficulties is the first step to changing the impact they have on your life.
Cognitive rehabilitation/remediation: Cognitive rehabilitation is an individualised approach where you and your clinical neuropsychologist work together to develop strategies to help you reach your goals. For example, if you have difficulty with your memory you may be supported to use a diary effectively or taught techniques to help learn people’s names. You will be shown how to use your own strengths to maximise day-to-day performance; for example, if the assessment showed that repeating information helped you to learn new information, you might learn how to use that strength day-to-day.
Support implementing techniques: Even once you know what will help maximise your thinking skills, it’s not always easy to put in place the changes that are required. Perhaps you have had a neuropsychological assessment in hospital, but haven’t started to use the suggestions given by the neuropsychologist. Or maybe the suggestions you were given need some fine tuning. Some sessions to practice strategies with your clinical neuropsychologist could be helpful. Together, you can brainstorm solutions to any difficulties you are having implementing strategies day-to-day.
Anxiety about thinking and memory skills. We know that once someone is really anxious about their memory or thinking skills, the anxiety can make things even harder. Learning a bit more about memory and thinking skills and how they work can help, and learning some new skills to support your memory can increase your confidence. Additionally, learning some skills to manage anxiety and worry can be very important.
A positive behaviour support plan: Based on the results of a thorough assessment, a neuropsychologist can put together a positive behaviour support plan to help manage behaviours of concern. The plan will aim to decrease the likelihood of concerning behaviours being repeated and increase the likelihood of behaviours that are helpful to you.
Risk reduction: There is increasing evidence that certain lifestyle changes can improve general cognitive function, reduce the risk of brain-injuring events such as strokes, and delay the onset of dementias. A neuropsychologist can help you put in place new behaviour patterns to maximise the chances of your brain staying healthy.
I hope the above information provides you with an idea of the range of ways neuropsychological interventions can help. If you have any queries about neuropsychology and the services that clinical neuropsychologists offer, please feel free to contact us via our website.
© Laura Humphreys, Yarra City Psychology, 2018. You are welcome to share this blog as long as it is shared in full and unchanged and with credit provided to Laura Humphreys and Yarra City Psychology.