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Departments

Overview

What is clinical neuropsychology?

Clinical neuropsychology is a branch of science concerned with the relationship between brain function and behaviour.  The Department of Clinical Neuropsychology at Austin Health is the historical "home" of the profession of clinical neuropsychology in Australia, having been founded by Dr. Kevin Walsh (AO MBBS BA MSc FBPsS) in the 1970's.  The Department is unique in the breadth and depth of service provided, and is located within the Cancer & Neurosciences Clinical Service Unit.  It is comprised of several clinicians and one secretary.  The central office of the Department and the bulk of staff are located on the Heidelberg Repatriation Campus (Grevillea Centre), with a further 3 offices located on Level 6 North of the Austin Tower, Austin Hospital.  The majority of staff work across the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and the Austin Hospital.

The Department has a major role in the provision of patient care incorporating diagnostic assessment services, involvement in rehabilitation programs and contributions to treatment and discharge planning procedures.  Clinical service areas incorporate the neurosciences, mental health, aged care services and all medical and surgical units within Austin Health.  In addition to the clinical program, the Department carries a large teaching load, offering student placement programs to local university post-graduate training programs in clinical neuropsychology.  The clinical training of students involves all clinical members of staff including the most senior levels of the Department.  The Department also has an involvement in both independent and collaborative research projects.

If you would like to learn more about the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology please continue to explore our website or contact us directly.

What is a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

Clinical Neuropsychologists are psychologists who have undergone advanced training at the postgraduate level in order to specialise in the assessment and management of persons with brain dysfunction. Their minimum qualifications are at least six years of university study leading to a Master's of Doctoral degree from a recognised clinical training program and a further two years of supervised experience.

Neuropsychologists have a role in diagnostic assessment services, rehabilitation programs and contributions to treatment and discharge planning procedures.

It is a legal requirement for all psychologists to be registered with the Psychologists Registration Board of Australia. This ensures that they meet specified standards of competence and ethical behaviour.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is a national organization of psychologists which is organized into colleges of professional practice and these impose additional standards of training on their members. Membership of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists is restricted to psychologists who have specialist training from a recognized training program and experience in clinical neuropsychology.

Why are people referred to a Clinical Neuropsychologist?

Referrals to clinical neuropsychologists are made by general medical practitioners, physicians, neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, geriatricians and a range of other medical physicians. Other health professionals such as psychologists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and physiotherapists may also make referrals.

Referrals to a clinical neuropsychologist may be made for diagnostic assessment, rehabilitation or educational and counselling for cognitive, emotional and/or behavioural problems related to brain dysfunction or for medico-legal purposes.

What is a neuropsychological assessment?

Neuropsychological assessment involves the measurement and evaluation of cognitive and behavioural functioning through interview, observation, and psychological testing.

Depending on the reason for the referral, an assessment session may take an hour or more and may be completed over separate sessions. Much of the assessment consists of the administration of tests of memory and new learning, language, spatial abilities and problem solving skills.

The assessment may be carried out at the bedside (in the case of inpatients) or in a private office and involves answering questions and performing paper and pencil tasks. The results of the various tasks are evaluated with regard to the individual's age, background, presenting problems and reason for the referral.