“I love working with families to navigate the public and private school systems, and my background in school psychology gives me a unique perspective.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have always wanted to be a psychologist, but realized that neuropsychology was for me during a pre-doctoral clinical placement. I loved using data and standardized assessments to help tell the story of an individual, thereby shaping recommendations for treatment and accommodations. I also love working with families to navigate the public and private school systems, and my background in school psychology gives me a unique perspective. I am able to proactively collaborate with schools and teachers and, when necessary, go to bat for my clients in school or Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, as well as in impartial hearings.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation takes time. For children, I begin by meeting with parents, followed by two or three testing sessions with the child. I sometimes include a classroom observation and always ask for rating forms and phone calls with teachers to get a better sense of in-school functioning. A feedback session follows, during which I share my results, diagnoses, recommendations, and ideas for next steps. The formal report follows within four to six weeks. For adults, I use a combination of clinical interviews, standardized assessments, and rating forms, as well as any collateral information that is available. The feedback session follows, during which I share results, diagnoses, and recommendations, with a report following within four to six weeks.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
It's important that a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation integrate all areas of functioning. Therefore, collaboration and consultation with all treating clinicians, teachers, tutors, and relevant adults is imperative. I love working with therapists and psychiatrists to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding treatment or interventions. Collaborating with teachers and tutors is also so important, as simple psychoeducation can often make a huge difference in how those adults treat children who are struggling behaviorally and academically. Similarly, for adults, it is incredibly important to gather information from all treating clinicians to ensure that I have the most complete picture possible.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
I think the biggest hurdle is a lack of guidance. There are so many providers out there and it is very difficult to know how to choose one. The second hurdle is cost. Neuropsychologists do not typically take insurance, and the reimbursement rates are very low. I offer sliding scale options for families who cannot afford a full-cost evaluation. I also work with education lawyers to help low-income families access neuropsychological evaluations that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
Neuropsychology is always changing, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. A few years ago, it was believed that girls and women didn't have ADHD or autism as often as boys and men did. Now we know that girls and women present with these disorders at similar rates, but their presentations are different. I see many female adolescents and women who have struggled their whole lives without knowing why. Having a diagnosis can be very empowering! The same is true for gifted individuals. Often their cognitive strengths mask areas of weakness and they may have had to work much harder than their peers to succeed. Having a more complete picture of one’s own strengths and weaknesses is important and allows us to advocate for ourselves and view our struggles through a lens of understanding and acceptance.
“Having a more complete picture of one’s own strengths and weaknesses is important and allows us to advocate for ourselves and view our struggles through a lens of understanding and acceptance.”