Neuropsychological Technicians in Clinical Practice: Utilization, Responsibilities, and Training

Leah Cochrane (2010)

Neuropsychological technicians are often employed to assist neuropsychologists with test administration and scoring. The major neuropsychological professional organizations, the American Psychological Association Division 40, the National Academy of Neuropsychology, and the International Neuropsychological Society, sanction the practice and utilization of neuropsychological technicians. Recent research reveals that the practice of utilizing paraprofessional and student technicians to assist with various aspects of clinical practice is widespread within the field of neuropsychology. However, there is a dearth of research regarding the specific nature, role, and training of neuropsychological technicians. This study was designed to augment previous survey research in the field of neuropsychology by addressing utilization rates of neuropsychological technicians, the roles and responsibilities of technicians, and factors that contribute to the decision to employ, or not to employ, technicians. Finally, this research examined how neuropsychologists educate and train technicians to engage in clinical work. Participants included 157 practitioners who identified as neuropsychologists. Participants completed an anonymous web-based survey regarding the practice of utilizing neuropsychological technicians. Descriptive statistics revealed that 72% of respondents utilize technicians, with over 70% of those utilizing paraprofessionals. Student and paraprofessional technicians engage in different clinical roles and responsibilities. Participants reported that time efficiency, cost effectiveness, and training were the main factors impacting the decision to utilize technicians. The decision not to employ technicians was dependent on employment setting, client population, financial resources, and individual circumstances. Respondents endorsed and described a variety of methods and practices for training technicians. Overall, most practitioners felt that the current recommendations for training technicians provided a basic guideline. This research promotes professional communication, transparency, and reflection among neuropsychologists regarding the utilization and training of technicians.