Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Responding to perceived unethical practices in clinical neuropsychology

I found a great article while cleaning up my office this morning (patient files need to take priority over printed articles in my locked filing cabinets, until I can find an admin person who's willing to scan all my files for electronic storage!)

The article  by Chris Grote, Jeff Lewin, Jerry Sweet, and Wilfred van Gorp was published in The Clinical Neuropsychologist in 2000, and you can find a link to the first page here: Taylor & Francis Online :: COURTING THE CLINICIAN Responses to Perceived Unethical Practices in Clinical Neuropsychology: Ethical and Legal Considerations - The Clinical Neuropsychologist - Volume 14, Issue 1. **

In searching for the link, I came across this second article, which elaborates on ethical issues involved in the practice of forensic neuropsychology. You can access the full text of the second article here Grote & Parsons (2005): Avoiding ethical misconduct

While these articles are not very recent, they address issues that often concern neuropsychologists who see "neuropsychological" reports written by other psychologists that appear to fall below the standards of the profession, or which do not seem to be supported by scientific literature or test data (among other things).

Knowing what to do in these situations is difficult, and these two articles help clarify the ethical issues involved, and various ways to respond to these issues.

I'd like to see a push to restrict usage of the term "neuropsychological assessment" and "neuropsychological report" to qualified neuropsychologists only. The tests we used can be used by any psychologist, but to interpret them neuropsychologically requires specialist training and experience in the science of neuropsychology. In the words of JK Rowling: "it's not the wand that makes the wizard, it's the wizard that makes the wand". Our tests aren't magical by themselves, it's our specialist knowledge and understanding of the complex interplay of biopsychosocial, neurological, psychometric, neuropsychological factors, and individual differences that allow neuropsychologists to do neuropsychological assessments. Any other psychologist using our tests is just doing a test of cognition, intelligence, or memory. Unless they study neuropsychology at an advanced level, they simply don't know what they don't know about the brain, cognition, and behaviour.

**If you're a member of the APS, you should be able to access the full text with the APS-sponsored EBSCOhost service. Otherwise, if you don't have institutional access to this journal on-line, you could join the AACN as an affiliate member for USD100 and get a free subscription to TCN (including online access to back issues). This will also get you onto the excellent AACN listserve - see for more details.

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