Neuropsychological Testing at the Austen Riggs Center
By Jed Yalof, PsyD
Jed Yalof, PsyD, is the staff neuropsychologist at the Austen Riggs Center. Neuropsychological testing is available to patients as needed and when indicated during the course of treatment*.
What is neuropsychology and neuropsychological assessment, and how can this service be of assistance to patients? Neuropsychology seeks to understand how brain-behavior relationships influence thoughts, feelings, and everyday psychosocial adjustment. A neuropsychological assessment serves a particular function as part of the multi-method assessment of individuals who have cognitive and social-emotional challenges that can impact things such as verbal comprehension, memory, attention, planning, organization, processing speed, decision-making, psychomotor functioning, visual-spatial reasoning, and motor functioning. These skills are also related to quality of life, interpersonal relations, and how people think and feel about themselves.
Such concerns may be associated with (a) learning disabilities, (b) a history of concussion, (c) medical conditions that influence mood, anxiety, anger, and quality of thinking, and (d) age-related decline. An individual who complains about these and other skills that we often take for granted, such as the ability to quickly name objects, recall phone numbers, and plan out a schedule of activities in a sensible way, may benefit from a comprehensive evaluation that provides a clearer diagnostic picture and generates recommendations for service providers. Feedback about results is offered supportively, with the goal of providing the patient and all other people concerned with the patient's adjustment with clarity and understanding that responds to complaints. Many complaints can be overlooked amid compensatory skills that mask deficit areas.
Thus, the importance of having access to a neuropsychologist who can assess both quantitative (i.e., against a normative base) and qualitative (i.e., specific impressions of the patient's unique style) and understands neuropsychology within a psychodynamic framework, can be very helpful to staff and significant others in the patient's life by offering insights that inform therapeutic strategies.
The evaluation consists of a brief interview, and various tests and measures selected specifically to respond to the clinician's referral question(s). The evaluation takes several hours and is completed in one day. A report is usually available within one week of the completion of the evaluation.
*There is an additional charge for neuropsychological testing. For questions about this service, please contact Director of Psychological Testing Jeremy Ridenour, PsyD, at 413-931-5283.