The Expert Neuropsychologist:
- Doctoral level training
- Licensed to diagnose and treat cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders
- Grounded in broadly accepted scientific research
- Preferred as the professional of choice to objectively evaluate changes in mental abilities and behavior
- Communicates in clear, understandable language about how changes in brain functioning affect everyday life, capacity to work
- What is a neuropsychologist?
A neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist specialized in the area of brain-behavior relationships. The neuropsychologist works with emotional and psychological issues, just as typical psychologists do, but the neuropsychologist also has specialized education in brain anatomy, brain function, and brain injury or disease. As part of the required education, the neuropsychologist has years of practical experience working in medical settings with people who have conditions involving the brain and uses this expertise to understand how brain disorders affect behavior, thinking and learning.’
- What is the difference between a neurologist and a neuropsychologist?
A neurologist focuses on the physical aspects of disorders of the brain and other parts of the nervous system. A neuropsychologist focuses on how those disorders affect a person’s ability to function, that is, what a person is able to do, how they behave, think, work and relate to others.
The neurologist may do a limited screening of mental functions. The neuropsychologist conducts detailed neuropsychological testing of cognitive functioning. These tests are standardized, well-researched tools that measure specific mental abilities. By analyzing the pattern of test findings, the neuropsychologist can describe areas of impairment and areas of competence, identify probable causes of impairment, make predictions about work and social functioning, and recommend treatments.
- What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist?
Both a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist are licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders. A psychiatrist is limited to using interviews to evaluate patients and is not trained to conduct testing. In contrast, a neuropsychologist has extensive training in objective, standardized testing methods to comprehensively measure claimed impairments, especially cognitive impairments.
- What does it mean to be board certified?
California statutes restrict the use of the title “psychologist” to those who hold a license as a psychologist. But there is no separate state license as a neuropsychologist. To qualify as an expert neuropsychologist, advanced training is required as well as extensive clinical experience with patients who have neurological disorders. But a simple self-declaration is not sufficient grounds on which an attorney can base selection of an expert neuropsychologist.
Board certification demonstrates that an individual psychologist has met rigorous professional standards. The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) certifies specialists in clinical neuropsychology. It is overseen by an umbrella organization (The American Board of Professional Psychology, ABPP). Its affiliated organization, the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, admits only those professionals who have demonstrated specialized expertise in their field.
- How should an attorney select an expert neuropsychologist?
Attorneys should look for an expert who is:
- certified by a recognized specialty board (either ABPP or ABPN)
- has an academic appointment or scientific publications
- has relevant experience in rendering clinical services to patients who are similar to the case in question
- has experience in performing medical-legal evaluations to provide expert opinions in court
- has demonstrated independence and integrity