Dr Carmela Pestell - Clinical Neuropsychologist & Clinical Psychologist
Frequently Asked Questions
 
WHAT IS A NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST?
 
Psychologists are experts in human behaviour, having studied the brain, memory, learning, human development and the processes determining how people think, feel, behave and react. Psychologists apply their expertise using reliable and scientifically supported methods. Neuropsychologists specialise in brain behaviour relationships and how for example, thinking problems may affect a person's functioning at home, school or work.
 
Paediatric Neuropsychologists have advanced skills in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning of a range of childhood disorders. They are trained to understand the cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects of a wide range of conditions, including developmental, epileptic, psychiatric, degenerative, infectious, metabolic, structural and traumatic. Their skills are underpinned by knowledge of brain structure, function and dysfunction, and the effects of multiple factors on cognitive, behavioural and emotional functioning. Neuropsychologists are required to keep their  skills up to date by attending professional development seminars, peer supervision session and courses on a regular basis.  More information about Psychologists can be found on the Australian Psychological Society Web-Site:
 
WHO CAN PERFORM A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?
 
Only nationally registered Psychologists with a recognised specialisation in Neuropsychology have the proper expertise to conduct a neuropsychological assessment. They should be a member, or eligible for Full Membership, with the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists (Australian Psychological Society: APS). In addition, a Paediatric Neuropsychologist should have advanced training and experience with working with children and adolescents.
 
WHY PERFORM A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT?
 
Neuropsychological assessment provides a detailed profile of the child’s strengths and weaknesses, and is recognized as a sensitive tool for the diagnosis of cognitive impairment, particularly in cases where changes are subtle and not evident on screening assessments or neuroimaging. It helps with diagnosis and treatment planning for children experiencing difficulties with memory, attention, learning, language, executive functioning (e.g. problem solving, planning & organisation) or other aspects of thinking or behavior. Because neuropsychological conditions can worsen or improve with time and treatment, neuropsychological assessment is valued as providing a baseline for future comparison of changes over time. It can also be used in predicting and enhancing social, educational and vocational outcomes. Neuropsychological assessments involve a clinical interview and a range of individually administered tests. The results of the assessment are then used to assist with developing individual treatment recommendations or plans. A neuropsychological assessment can therefore help plan a child's rehabilitation programme by identifying their strengths and weaknesses. They are also used for decision making about a child's school placement and other areas of their life (for example, play, social activities and study or career choices).
 
WHAT WILL THE NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST BE ASSESSING?
 
Dr Pestell will test specific skills using a wide range of activities. These skills include concentration, memory, visuo-spatial (e.g. jigsaws), language, problem solving, planning, organisational and academic abilities. Some of the ways these are tested include looking at pictures, answering questions, remembering certain information and writing things down. The neuropsychological assessment does not involve a medical checkup, brain scans, or a psychiatric assessment. However, parents will often be asked to sign a consent form; as well as fill in some questionnaires about their child’s performance at school and at home. You may be asked to provide written consent so that hospital records can be obtained. You may also be given some questionnaires for your child's teacher or aide to fill in. Please make sure these questionnaires are returned as it is usually not possible to complete the neuropsychology report until all the information has been collected.
 
HOW DO I PREPARE MY CHILD FOR THE ASSESSMENT?
 
It is recommended that you bring snacks and lunch for your child. Please bring reading glasses and hearing aids if needed, copies of school reports or any other medical reports (if you have them). Continue normal medication regimes unless requested otherwise. After reading this brochure please explain to your child in simple terms what will happen.
Mobile phones must be turned off during the assessment. You must let us know as soon as possible if English is your child’s second language so that we can arrange an Interpreter. It is also important to let us know beforehand if your child has difficulty being in a separate room to you, or is likely  to be uncooperative with the test procedures.
Please make sure your child has had breakfast on the morning of the assessment and goes to bed early the night before. Sleep overs with friends the night before the assessment are NOT recommended. If you have to travel a long way to attend the appointment, it is recommended this occurs the day or evening before rather than on the morning of the assessment.
 
HOW LONG WILL THE ASSESSMENT TAKE?
 
Overall, it may take three to four hours. Dr Pestell will spend time with the parent(s) getting background information, such as early childhood history and how your child is performing at school, however, testing is done with your child alone. We ask that you remain in the waiting room during the assessment and not to leave the building, unless permission is granted. Most children require short breaks and these are given throughout the assessment.
 
CANCELLATION POLICY
 
You must give at least 48 hours notice if you decide not to go ahead with the assessment, otherwise a cancellation fee of $300 is charged. If you do not turn up to the appointment then further charges will apply.
 
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
 
If you have any questions or concerns about the assessment, please feel free to call Dr Pestell on 0409 490 849 during office hours.  
 
DOES DR PESTELL PROVIDE ONGOING THERAPY OR COUNSELLING?
 
Please note that Dr Pestell conducts neuropsychological assessments only, and does not provide ongoing counselling or therapy. A feedback session is offered if the assessment is not for medico-legal or forensic purposes. You will usually receive a copy of the neuropsychological report, and can always contact Dr Pestell if you have any further questions.
 
If you are looking for a therapist, it is recommended you go to the "Find a Psychologist" link on the Australian Psychological Society website, at: http://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/Default.aspx?ID=1204
 
HOW MUCH DOES A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT COST?
 
The recommended Australian Psychological Society fee until 30 June 2019 for a standard psychological consultation of 45-60 minutes is $258.00. Currently  Medicare rebates are available for some psychological services at this practice. 
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