• Jotham Busfield, LICSW

Neuropsych Testing: The New Edge in Academics?


The competitive nature of the college application process (and the years of hard work that precede it) has never been more intense than at present. Overlapping this is the reality of the mental health epidemic impacting our nation’s youth. With this challenging combination, meeting reality head on can be a struggle and most are looking for any edge they can find, be that for academic progress, effective mental health support, or often both. Enter Neuropsych Testing, the comprehensive mental health, neurological and executive functioning tool utilized more and more by many to fully capture a student’s picture of mental health in real time, while also gaining access to a wealth of information about exactly how their brain uniquely works. This mental health snapshot and neuro-targeting combination is thought by some to provide a potential advantage, an edge gained by allowing one to play to their identified strengths while highlighting the areas that need to be improved (or accounted for and circumvented).


So does this comprehensive testing actually provide the edge so many these days are expecting? Possibly, as we will explore together here. Let’s start with the challenges in this area, as the world of Neuropsychological testing can be daunting, even to the most knowledgeable parents. Questions abound about utility, scope, and purpose. One member of a child’s team might throw out, “Have you thought about a neuropsych?” at what feels like the drop of a hat, while other providers might seem surprised to hear you inquire about whether it would make sense. Throw in lengthy wait times, huge fluctuations in cost and what is often a jargon filled process and the whole landscape can feel impermeable.


This reality was a driving force (along with wanting to streamline several siloed mental health services under one roof to ease the burden on clients) behind the impetus for Riser+Tread to add a Neuropsych testing program. Families who worked with a clinician/coach at Riser+Tread, (experts in young male mental fitness, ages 8-25), kept asking the same questions and facing the same frustrations around the inaccessibility of Neuropsychological testing. Happily, Drs. Rachel Leary, Leanne Osgood, and Antonio Romero have been able to fill this Neuropsych testing space with Riser+Tread, collectively making it a primary focus to be comprehensive, while attending to the needs of each individual person. Riser+Tread values making access instant (free consults within one week and testing scheduled within one month, with wait times elsewhere typically 6-12 months), ensuring clients have the information they need, when they need it, to plan for their student ASAP. This shows the commitment to a comprehensive and collaborative model, prioritizing communication and quality at an affordable rate, for clients of ALL ages and genders.


The benefits of Neuropsych testing can be both broad and targeted in scope. A Neuropsych can help you understand reasons for increasing academic challenges, withdrawal or dysregulation in the classroom, attentional concerns, and social disconnects. When you know the whole landscape of a person’s profile (problem solving/cognition, academics, attention/executive functioning, and social-emotional), you can feel confident in having a thorough understanding of the source(s) driving the issues. It can be easy to miss an underlying attention problem when a child is anxious and distressed about task completion. If you only address anxiety, you never solve for the source of the anxiety, which could be an underlying attentional vulnerability. All the in-depth information from a Neuropsych allows for a comprehensive plan to best support each student, enabling access to supports in school while developing and maximizing their own potential. Anything but a one size fits all approach, a Neuropsych is the most comprehensive way to understand an individual’s entirely unique learning profile and maximize access to the concepts that will set the tone for success, based on how each individual defines that word.


When people think about what a Neuropsychological evaluation can offer, it can be easy to miss out on the more nuanced and creative ways a Neuropsych (or more targeted testing) can provide vital information about a child in order to maximize confidence in their own unique learning style. There is value to understanding strengths and growing edges (areas of executive functioning that are not as well developed) to enable ideas for how to use the things one is best at to scaffold the areas that need a little bit more attention. Having the language and ideas about effective strategies can feel empowering for students and families. Knowing how and when to advocate as a student becomes a more independent learner makes a confusing system a bit more manageable. It can be a wonderful tool, providing more information and intention to the educational planning process, as the educational setting drives a lot of this shared language that we develop.


The Neuropsych team at Riser+Tread has spent years working with various schools (public, charter, private, and independent, running the gamut of educational approaches) and all ages (early childhood through college and beyond). Having shared language and relationships allows for the educational collaboration needed to make gaining this insight all the more valuable, academically and overall.


Whether a student is looking for updated mental health insight, broad or targeted neurological and executive functioning insights, a tool for effective academic coordination, or the self-awareness and acceptance afforded by a comprehensive picture of their own neuro-diversity, Neuropsych Testing delivers. And when barriers like long wait times are removed, costs are reduced, flexible and targeted options are provided, confusing jargon is minimized, and effective communication and collaboration are offered, the true edge behind Neuropsych testing becomes very visible.




*To request a free neuropsychological testing consult, visit: https://www.riserandtread.com/neuropsychological-testing or email "neuropsych@riserandtread.com"


**For a helpful "playbook" on getting reimbursed for mental health services through insurance: https://www.riserandtread.com/post/navigating-the-insurance-landscape


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