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What will happen at my neuropsychological assessment appointment?

Neuropsychology is the study of how your brain affects your thinking and behaviour. If you have been referred for a neuropsychological assessment, you might be wondering what the appointment will actually involve.


The goal of a neuropsychological assessment is to assess your memory and thinking skills. In my assessment sessions, I begin by going over any relevant information you have brought with you, such as reports or letters from other clinicians, and answering any questions you have. I encourage you to continue asking questions during the session if you are unsure about something.


You may have a support person (e.g., family member, friend, carer) sit in for part of the session, but the majority will be conducted with you alone. If a support person is not present, I can speak to them over the phone at another time. Whilst an assessment appointment can seem long at two to four hours, you can take short breaks or the assessment can be split over two sessions. It can be a good idea to discuss this with me or the admin team when making the appointment, so that another booking can be made at the same time and we can avoid delays between sessions.


The Clinical Interview:

Image shows neuropsychologists hands during clinical interview assessment

We will have an interview in which we will typically discuss what thinking difficulties or symptoms you are experiencing. These could include forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, word-finding problems, getting lost, difficulty organising yourself, problems with study, low mood, and anxiety, just to note a few. We will also cover a lot of information about your background, such as your schooling, jobs, medical conditions, medications, alcohol and substance use, family circumstances, who you live with, and family history of relevant conditions: this is important because the neuropsychological test results do not mean much unless we take into account things like age, education, pre-existing learning difficulties, occupation, medical history and mental health history.


The Assessment Tasks:

You may be asked to do some questionnaires on paper or electronically. These could be about your mood, stress, or other relevant symptoms. You will be asked to do a series of activities designed to tap into various areas of brain function such as memory, attention, speed of thinking, language, spatial judgement, planning, problem-solving and reasoning. This will take up the majority of the assessment appointment. The activities may involve listening and responding verbally, some may involve drawing or writing, others may involve manipulating test materials with your hands, and a few may be completed on an electronic device.


Certain activities will feel easy, others may be challenging, and some may start off easy but become harder as they go on. This is just how they are designed: they are supposed to be new and unusual to you, and occasionally to push your limits a little. Just try your best. I will look at the overall pattern of relative strengths and weaknesses to help guide the recommendations or next steps.


After the Assessment:

After your assessment I’ll prepare a report to summarise the findings and make recommendations. I’ll also ma



ke a time to discuss the results with you and discuss my recommendations. We will discuss whether you would like to have appointments to practice strategies for managing any cognitive difficulties you are experiencing.


Summary:


A sylised drawing of the human brain from above. Half the brain in black and white and half is colour

In summary, your neuropsychological assessment appointment will typically involve an interview with yourself and possibly a support person, as well as doing a series of activities and questionnaires. The assessment can be split over multiple sessions and you can take breaks. Importantly, there is no pass or fail, and you can definitely ask questions along the way. Just give it your best shot! 


This blog was prepared by Dr Asawari Henderson, Clinical Neuropsychologist at Yarra City Psychology.

 

If you are interested in having a neuropsychological assessment, please give our team a call on (03) 9429 0050.


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