Clinical neuropsychology focuses on injuries and illnesses of the central nervous system, as well as on the assessment and rehabilitation of the psychological implications of developmental disorders and learning difficulties. Multiprofessional work, networking and consultation are an increasingly essential part of the job description. The programme focuses on key theories, empirically validated concepts, approaches and strategies in clinical neuropsychology. In addition, central theory formation and research methods in neuroscience as well as basic research and applications in clinical neuropsychology are examined. In the final paper, students familiarise themselves in depth with an independently chosen topic in neuropsychology relevant to the development of their professional expertise. Final papers not published elsewhere can be published in Neuropsy Open, the open online journal for the Specialisation Programme in Neuropsychology.
The specialist training provides the skills needed for serving in professional positions for specialists in neuropsychology.
The courses are divided into discipline-specific studies, methodology studies and a final paper as well as supervised practice and work experience outside the programme. The discipline-specific studies are divided into studies in clinical neuropsychology and related fields. In terms of content, the studies in clinical neuropsychology include the following areas: growth into a neuropsychologist, duties in neuropsychology, work methods in neuropsychology, aetiology-based skills and sub-field–specific cognition-related skills. In addition, students complete a study module in related fields (neuroscience, neurology and psychiatry). Methodology studies support the completion of the final paper and provide a research-oriented perspective to the training.
Detailed programme content is available in
The studies are completed in three years by attending seminars lasting one to two days organised on average three times per month, methodology guidance provided primarily virtually in small groups and separate supervised professional practice. The programme begins with compulsory studies, after which more options become available as the studies progress.
To begin with, students draw up a personal study plan (PSP), ensuring they achieve both broad-based knowledge and personal familiarity with the field. In accordance with separate substitution guidelines, some of the studies can be substituted with studies previously completed elsewhere. The final paper can be substituted with a research publication.
Substitution options vary by course. Course attendance covers only a small part of the studies, with independent work carrying a great deal of weight. The goal is for students to assume responsibility for their learning and act as active members of a group in their studies. The courses employ a range of pedagogical solutions aimed at ensuring broad-based skills and enabling individuals to focus on topics relevant to individual competence. A portfolio on professional development is completed alongside the training. The programme also includes a specialist lecture given by students during the training. The final paper is an article-type work, such as a literature review.
Before completing the specialisation in neuropsychology, students must accumulate four years of work experience, of which at least three years must be in neuropsychology, with at least one year completed during the specialisation programme. Part of the supervised professional practice is organised by the programme; the rest must be organised independently.
National specialist training in neuropsychology has been provided at the University of Helsinki for almost 25 years. The specialisation programme boosts the professional development and special competencies of employed university graduates. In the three-year programme, students acquire knowledge needed in the profession, develop their practical skills and practise scientific argumentation. The training takes place primarily alongside work. Experience gained through work, including supervised professional practice, is a key part of the training. The Specialisation Programme in Neuropsychology is very popular (the mean admittance rate for the past 10 years is 30.5%). Students come from around Finland, and the graduates are at the top of their field.
The specialist training provides qualifications pursuant to the Universities Act and related government decrees to serve in demanding specialist positions in the field of neuropsychology. Specialists who have completed the Specialisation Programme in Neuropsychology can apply for the right to provide neuropsychological rehabilitation services subsidised by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA). This right can be applied for already during the training.
The planning and implementation of teaching in neuropsychology is coordinated by the professor and university lecturers of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Helsinki. The programme is organised in cooperation with Psykonet, a university network comprising the psychology departments and disciplines of several Finnish universities. The best specialists of the field are utilised in teaching, also from outside the universities, for example from hospital districts.
Students’ employers have had a generally positive attitude to the training, as additional qualifications obtained by experienced employees benefit their organisations. Specialisation in neuropsychology and supervision of clinical practice also serve the needs of professional continuing education. In addition, students can carry out research and development projects as part of their final paper, which also benefits the relevant organisation. On behalf of the organisers of the specialisation programme, we are in fact looking for the following kinds of support for the studies from employers also in the future:
Specialists in psychology are highly educated specialists of their field who will undoubtedly contribute to the development of your organisation.