Turning Point on the world stage of neuropsychology

4 Jul 2024

Our researchers recently presented at the Global Neuropsychology Congress in Portugal

Global Neuropsychology Congress

The value of neuropsychological assessments and support within Turning Point’s clinical services was showcased on the world stage today with presentations from Senior Clinical Neuropsychologists Dr James Gooden and Georgia Bolt at the Global Neuropsychology Congress in Portugal.

The researchers presented early findings from their project examining the service outcomes and the lived experience of clients accessing Turning Point’s statewide addiction neuropsychology services.

“The Global Neuropsychology Congress is a major international conference for neuropsychology,” Dr Gooden said. “It’s been an honour to present our latest research and represent the work of Turning Point as a leader in the field of addiction treatment and research on a truly global stage.”

“Outcomes from neuropsychological assessment in a community-based addiction service in Australia,” presented by Dr James Gooden

Dr Gooden’s presentation described the outcomes and changes in quality of life for clients accessing the addiction neuropsychology service, with clients reporting a significant improvement in overall quality of life and a high degree of satisfaction with the service.

“Understanding the experience and value add of neuropsychology services from a client’s perspective is a critical means of demonstrating the clinical utility of neuropsychological services,” Dr Gooden said. “It is also crucial to advocating for service provision to meet clinical needs.”

A majority of participants found the feedback session helpful in aiding them to understand (82.3%) and cope (58.9%) with their cognitive concerns.

Participants also reported significantly improved global health after engaging with neuropsychology services.

“These findings highlight the important role of neuropsychology within addiction treatment settings and its value from a client's perspective. Such data are critical when advocating for continued and expanded service provision,” Dr Gooden said.

Access the poster presentation: Outcomes from Neuropsychological Assessment in a Community-Based Addiction Service in Australia.

“A Whole Different Ball Game”: Exploring the value of neuropsychology in an Australian community-based addiction service, presented by Georgia Bolt

Georgia Bolt's presentation highlighted findings about client experiences of neuropsychological services in order to deepen understanding and optimise both neuropsychology service delivery and client outcomes.

According to her presentation, clients described the therapeutic benefits of neuropsychology, with improvements in the domains of understanding of self, empowerment, self-compassion, confidence, and self-efficacy, which in turn led to improved social relationships and participation.

For example, one participant said: “[The neuropsychologist] gave me the belief that it was worth making an effort, and I have made an effort – I've done almost everything that [they] suggested, and my life is the best it has ever been.”

“[Neuropsychology], it’s a whole different ball game...just the explanation and the time spent with you to be able to explain, in layman's terms, what's going on,” said another participant.

“To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies exploring qualitative outcomes of accessing neuropsychological services from a client’s perspective, and likely the only such study conducted in an AOD-specific setting,” Ms Bolt said.

Ms Bolt’s presentation also described the practical implications of their research for clinicians, including:

  • Clinical approach: The importance of a flexible biopsychosocial strengths-based approach to neuropsychology assessment and intervention in AOD to promote self-efficacy.
  • When to engage: A recommendation for clinicians to consider the timing and nature of neuropsychological input to support clients most meaningfully, initially addressing core needs and then appreciating 'value add' beyond assessment.
  • Stigma: Taking a transparent, non-judgemental approach to assessment and history-taking while also considering experiences of alcohol and other drugs across the life course (both drivers and outcomes).
  • Trauma-informed practice: The importance of promoting autonomy/choice, maintaining confidentiality in clinical interview and feedback sessions, focusing on rapport building and therapeutic alliance, being wary of re-traumatisation, and widening the window of tolerance.
  • Nature and length of engagement: Supporting clients to identify and overcome barriers to implementing strategies in the community across sessions and to consider the value of 'booster’ intervention sessions.
  • Care continuity and accessibility: A recommendation to support clients to make referrals in session to ensure continuity of care post-discharge and continue to advocate for improved service accessibility and funding to promote early intervention.

Access the poster presentation: “A Whole Different Ball Game”: Exploring the Value of Neuropsychology in an Australian Community-Based Addiction Service.

The project was funded by the National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs’ Clinical Research Scholarship Program, which was awarded to Dr Gooden in 2021.

Dr Gooden’s attendance at the conference was supported by a Frank Murphy travelling scholarship. The family of Frank Murphy donated a bequest to Turning Point on his death to support the development of the next generation of alcohol and drug workers.

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