Neuropsychotherapy: emerging from the shadows

Gavin Newby describes the development of neuropsychotherapy, a new and emerging discipline. Newby is an editor of and contributor to a ground-breaking book, Practical Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury: A Guide for Working Clinicians.

Within the broader world of psychology and clinical psychology, neuropsychology has had a reputation for being overly academic and assessment-focussed. When I joined the profession over twenty years ago, we had our elegant models of cognitive function and dysfunction, and the neurologists and GPs could expect long and complex neuropsychological assessments from us, which pin-pointed areas of difficulty. However, a casual observer might rightly wonder aloud, 'So what? How does this help the distressed patient and their family?'

Over the last twenty or so years, the expectation has rapidly grown that clinical neuropsychologists will produce programmes of cognitive rehabilitation and help people re-integrate into their lives and societies. Most clinical neuropsychologists have always recognised the emotional havoc caused by an acquired brain injury - such as stroke, tumour, or trauma - and will have tried to adapt models of psychotherapy to deal with it, such as cognitive behavioural and personal constructs therapy. But it is only in relatively recent times that the discipline of neuropsychotherapy has begun to emerge from the shadows in its own right.

Whilst recognised models and systems of psychological therapy – including psychodynamic psychotherapy and analytic therapies – are important contributors to the development of this new discipline, there are a range of workers (including in the UK) who have gone beyond merely adapting these approaches and have developed their own systems and modes of neuropsychotherapy.

Our new book, Practical Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury, features a key chapter given over entirely to the concepts, principles and practice of neuropsychotherapy with acquired brain injury. Within the chapter, the reader is taken on a comprehensive tour of how to adapt models of neuropsychotherapy, and is invited to consider a helpful generic model of psychotherapy for brain-injured patients. A single case is presented and a range of treatments proposed, which embraces cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic psychotherapy, family/systemic, narrative and cognitive analytic therapy.

We hope that our exciting new book will act as a staging post in the further development of neuropsychotherapy.

Gavin Newby
Co-editor of Practical Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury: A Guide for Working Clinicians.