SACNA aims to promote the professional development of clinical neuropsychology by:
For information on the relationship between SACNA and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), click here
For information pertaining to statement of SACNA membership on professional stationery, click here
To review the SACNA Constitution, click here
SACNA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of European Societies of Neuropsychology in order to express the intention to collaborate on a voluntary basis by sharing information in the areas of common interest. Both are looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship that will grow over time.
Q: What is clinical neuropsychology?
A: Neuropsychology is the study of brain systems and functions and how they relate to human behaviour. It can be thought of as the combination of two disciplines: neurology, which looks at the physical aspects of the human brain and central nervous system, and psychology, which focuses more on human behaviour and thought processes.
This guide will explain the neuropsychology profession in more detail, including the job and skills of a neuropsychologist, neuropsychology in South Africa, requirements to register as neuropsychologist, where to study neuropsychology, what graduates can expect, and the practice of neuropsychology in private and state arenas.
Q: What is a clinical neuropsychologist?
A: Neuropsychologists are concerned with the relationship between behaviour and both normal and abnormal brain functioning. They specialize in studying brain-behaviour relationships and have extensive training in the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the nervous system. In addition, they are normally required to have comprehensive training in psychodiagnostics and psychological assessment using psychometric tools which overlaps with the skills required for the training of Clinical Psychologists. Neuropsychologists research and treat nervous system disorders. They evaluate patients after an injury or illness, conduct assessments to determine how the patient’s brain works, and diagnose conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and traumatic brain injuries. Neuropsychologists also develop cognitive rehabilitation programs or other treatments for patients. They work closely with doctors, including neurologists.
Q: What does a neuropsychological assessment entail? What happens during a neuropsychological evaluation and what will happen after the evaluation?
A: A neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how one’s brain functions, which indirectly yields information about the structural and functional integrity of your brain. A neuropsychologist is trained to assess brain functions, such as memory, concentration, planning, language, reasoning, and other aspects of learning and understanding. The neuropsychological evaluation is a clinically orientated endeavour involving a clinical interview and present state examination, as well as the administration of an individualized battery of psychometric tests if this is indicated, to supplement the clinical information. The tests may be pencil and paper type tests, or computer-based tests, or a combination of these depending on the case in question.
The neuropsychological evaluation consists of gathering relevant historical information, a clinical assessment, the administration of psychometric tests of cognition and/or behavioural inventories if indicated to supplement the clinical information, analysis and integration of data and findings, and feedback to the referral source. History is obtained by reviewing medical and other records and interviewing the patient. With the patient’s permission, family members or other knowledgeable persons may be interviewed and asked to share their perceptions and perspective on important aspects of the history and symptoms. The clinical assessment involves behavioural observations and questioning related to the patient’s current mental status. The psychometric assessment consists of the administration of standardised tests using oral questions, computerised and/or paper and pencil tests, the manipulation of materials such as locks and puzzles, and other procedures. Depending on the scope and intent of the evaluation, testing may focus on a wide range of cognitive functions including attention, memory, language, academic skills, reasoning and problem solving, visuospatial ability, and sensorymotor skills. The amount of direct contact time required for the patient will depend on the scope of the specific evaluation; the evaluation might be a brief screening requiring as little as an hour or a comprehensive assessment requiring four hours or more, spread out over more than one appointment. After the evaluation, the clinical neuropsychologist will analyse the data and information gathered by history and examination, integrating it into a report. Again, depending upon the referral issue and scope of the evaluation, the report will provide a description of neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses, patterns of findings that have diagnostic significance, and recommendations for further evaluation and/or treatment.
The clinical neuropsychologist may schedule a follow-up consultation with you to review the findings and recommendations and address any questions of concerns you may have. With your permission, the report can be shared with the doctor (or other professional) who initiated the referral and other health care providers involved in your care.
Q: What are common referral issues?
A: Traumatic brain injury: What are the enduring effects of an injury and what treatment might help?
Memory and aging: Is this normal age-related change or a physical disease? Or is it something of a psychiatric nature such as depression or anxiety?
Changes in personality and behaviour: Are these symptoms of a psychiatric disorder or do they signify a brain-related syndrome?
For litigation purposes: Whether a person’s cognitive problems are a consequence of some kind of accident, whether the person has the capacity to stand trial, manage their financial affairs or agree to treatment?
Learning and development: Does the patient have a developmental disorder affecting learning?
If so, how can we help him to circumvent these weaknesses and provide the best learning environment for success?
Q: How can I find a clinical neuropsychologist in South Africa?
A: In South Africa, clinical neuropsychologists mostly practice in private practice offices, although some work in hospital settings and rehabilitation centres. Referral may be requested by another medical professional. Teachers may request an evaluation for a learner who may be having difficulty with learning; insurance companies or attorneys may refer to assess whether a person is able to work, or whether a person’s claimed deficits are a direct result of some kind of accident.
If you have a concern that you believe would be best addressed by consulting with a clinical neuropsychologist, you can discuss this with your doctor.
A listing of clinical neuropsychologists, registered with the HPCSA, can be found on the SACNA website under 'Find a neuropsychologist.'
Q: Are neuropsychologists in South Africa competent and up to date with recent research and methods?
All registered neuropsychologists in South Africa must engage in continuous professional development (CPD) activities to maintain their registration status. SACNA has been a leader in providing learning opportunities in the field of neuropsychology and continues to offer workshops, webinars, book courses and updated information to its members.
INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE NEUROPSYCHOLOGISTS AND STUDENTS
Q: What skills are necessary to become a neuropsychologist?
A: Excellent Communication: Whether it’s conveying instructions to a patient or explaining an idea to a colleague, being able to communicate effectively is extremely important. This includes not only speaking and presenting ideas but writing succinctly as well.
Strong Research Skills: Neuropsychology is a research-driven field. This means that neuropsychologists can understand and interpret research.
Critical Thinking: Being able to interpret and analyse data, to design and conduct research, requires critical thinking skills and an ability to take unconventional approaches to problems or issues. Critical thinking is also useful in translating recently discovered ideas to practical applications.
Q: Can you register as a neuropsychologist in SA?
A: The HPCSA has opened a neuropsychology register. Successful completion of an HPCSA accredited MA Neuropsychology degree, an HPCSA approved internship, and board examination, are requirements for registration as a neuropsychologist. Currently the UCT MA Neuropsychology degree is the only designated Neuropsychology masters level training available in the country, although it is hoped that shortly more such University-based training opportunities will be developed given the recent opening of a neuropsychology category.
Q: What are the steps to becoming a neuropsychologist In South Africa:
A: Before you can enter a formal Masters degree programme, you will need a three year Bachelor’s degree majoring in psychology, as well as an Honours degree in psychology.
During an undergraduate degree, psychology students learn about neuroanatomy, brain behaviour disorders, and psychological research. To be accepted for the Masters degree in Neuropsychology, the course content of the Honours degree in psychology should include a neuropsychology module or component. After completion of a relevant Honours degree, students must apply to be accepted in the Neuropsychology Masters degree program. Earning a Masters in Neuropsychology generally takes two years. After completion of an approved internship, neuropsychologists must pass the HPCSA Neuropsychology Board Exam to apply for registration.
Q Where in South African can I study for a Psychology Honours degree which include a neuropsychology component
A: You can study for an Honours degree in psychology at any South African university that offers the degree. However, the course content may not include a neuropsychology module or component. Whether or not a neuropsychology component is offered, would need to be checked with each university Honours course curriculum for any particular year.
Q: Where in South Africa can I do a Master of Arts in neuropsychology
A: The only university currently offering a Masters degree in neuropsychology is UCT. Selection into the MA in Neuropsychology program is highly competitive. There are limited places available each year. Please visit the program website for the most up to date information about the current program requirements, application procedures and application for funding:
Q: How does one study to work as a neuropsychologist?
A: In order to gain registration as a neuropsychologist with the HPCSA, one must complete a designated MA in neuropsychology, currently only available in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town. Alternatively, one can follow the direction of study for a clinical, counselling or educational psychologist, in that registration in any one of those categories permits practice in neuropsychological work as part of the HPCSA professional scope. Those taking this alternative route, normally require additional training in neuropsychology and need to work under supervision until they are competent to work on their own in that area. It does not lead to registration as a neuropsychologist, nor the ability to refer to oneself as a neuropsychologist.
Q: What is the process for a foreign-qualified psychologist to become registered as a psychologist in South Africa?
A: Professionals with foreign qualifications who wish to register with the HPCSA are considered on an ad hoc basis. Applicants must consult the HPCSA.
Q: Should one study neuropsychology at an institution outside South Africa to become a practising neuropsychologist in South Africa?
A; One needs to check if the institution/university is accredited by SAQA. Even if the institution provides a Constancy and Apostille of the Hague seal to confirm their qualification is accredited, this does not mean that SAQA has accredited it. If the institution is not accredited by SAQA the certification will not count as coursework that can potentially lead to an equivalence. One needs to be cautious as some people have "PhD" and “MA degrees” from phantom institutions.
In order to maintain international standards of practice in the field, SACNA has established a credentialing process directed to registration as a Full Member of the association. SACNA Full membership is a peer-recognised indication of expertise in neuropsychology, and is well respected by medical physicians, mental health practitioners, allied professionals, and medico-legal experts.
Full members of SACNA are all psychologists who have been registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa for a minimum of two years and who have demonstrated minimum levels of competence in the field of neuropsychology, via successful completion of an entrance examination and submission of several practical clinical reports for evaluation by the Credentialing Committee.
Dr June Rossi - President
Dr Sharon Truter - Past- President
Dr Erika Steenberg - President-Elect
Ms Annelies Cramer - Treasurer
Dr Frances Hemp - Secretary & Credentialing
Dr Menachem Mazabow - Member
Prof Ann Edwards - Member
Ms Christi Gadd - Media & Technology
Ms Naomi van Wyk
Gauteng – Ms Andria Grobler
Western Cape – Ms Aimee Dollman
KwaZulu Natal – Dr Karl Swain
Free State – Dr Mariske Pienaar
Eastern Cape – Prof Brenda Beukman
Ms Nicole Botha
Contact her by clicking here.