As many a supervisor will opine, students frequently ask for a template for what should be included in a neuropsychological report. No longer will that be the case with the addition of this book on their shelf. In this work by Dr Wanlass, the author provides the reader with essential scaffolding on what to include in a report and helpful suggestions on how the entire evaluation process might be accomplished. Although it is primarily geared toward trainees that are earlier on in their professional development in the practice of clinical neuropsychology, the book can also be utilized by more seasoned users in a review of sound practice fundamentals. With any book that goes out on a limb in providing such cogent detailed advice, it is recognized that the author opens himself up to critiques of what is both included and omitted; however, this book is very careful in remaining objective in highlighting issues that are frequently generalizable across a variety of testing settings. The book is organized into three main sections, and somewhat atypically, starts with a pre-test to help the reader gauge their proofreading skills and clearly foreshadows subsequent lessons. From there, the sage advice begins.
Section I: Improving Assessment and Reporting. Despite our collective hesitation to write in the book in order to complete the self-test, the exercise was helpful to set the stage and tone for the book. In chapter 2, advice nuggets were relayed on how to interact with others (e.g., from referral sources to patients), and while somewhat useful, seemed a little out of place in relation to the overall gist of the book. However, if thought of in the context of being “bottom-up” and following a logical, temporal sequence of how many evaluations are accomplished, its inclusion is better understood. Chapter 3 focused on the testing environment and chapters 4–7 covered and provided suggestions on obtaining and writing up background information, selecting tests, categorizing performance, conducting testing and interpretation, and writing conclusions and recommendations. While some of this information may come across as rather basic, a seasoned supervisor will note that many exemplars referenced are frequently raised as issues during supervision. One of the most useful aspects of this book was that each section is chock full of information and ideas that can easily facilitate discussions with trainees and/or help to prepare them in writing their initial reports (e.g., should data descriptions be included in reports and/or how should impairment be defined?). Clearly, not every neuropsychologist will concur with all the advice that is provided but most of the author's “rules” are quite reasonable in their message. In chapters 8 and 9, Dr Wanlass provides practical advice on how one should comport themselves in their behavior (e.g., follow-up on commitments, check calculations twice) and how to write more clearly and effectively. Quite nicely, the section finishes off with a post-test so the reader can help gauge how well they incorporated the lessons contained in the previous pages.
Section II: Formats. In the beginning chapters of this section, the author provides several self-report questionnaires that can be used with patients and/or families. In chapter 13, he provides suggestions on what might go into a short report. These sections are very organized, but not overly prescriptive in providing a helpful structure for students to utilize in generating a neuropsychological report. Although neuropsychologists will undoubtedly debate where more commonly used measures should truly go into a section (e.g., should letter fluency be a “processing speed”, “executive”, “language”, or “mental control” item?); the presented suggestions are nicely laid out and generally quite logical. In chapter 14, the author presents a framework for a long report format. For many aspiring neuropsychologists, this will be an incredibly useful chapter to review for both its structure and content suggestions, including descriptive language on many measures that are typically administered. It is hoped that these suggestions would facilitate a student transitioning from the mere reporting of data to being more reflective and advanced in creating a more integrated, detailed, and coherent report.
Section III: Language. In this final section, Dr Wanlass provides detailed suggestions on word use to help with writing domain sections that are often seen as challenging. Interestingly, one of the concerns that immediately came to mind was that novice trainees may try to “cut and paste” some of these sections to be included in a report. Thoughtfully, the author lets readers know that editable versions of the workings offered can be requested, while supervisors should be careful that suggestions are appropriately utilized and tailored to the current patient evaluation. Given these caveats, chapters (15–17) serve as a wonderful resource akin to a clinician's thesaurus for writing. As an example, there are 16 different language suggestions on how to incorporate aspects of “poor effort” into the report! Although there are some suggestions that are quite basic, readers of all levels of expertise will find the offerings to be helpful and sometimes, provoking.
Conclusion. In summary, this is a useful little book that will easily find a place on students' or supervisors' shelf. It nicely complements more fundamental texts for clinical neuropsychologists while being fairly objective and an easy read. It provides sage advice and musings in many domains, but at only 155 pages, it is not exhaustive. Some readers might have wished for Dr Wanlass to add information on the development of test batteries, provide references for feedback styles, or even include a chapter on evaluating special populations. However, this list could be extensive and then the book would be much more than a toolkit. Overall, it is a well thought out, useful, and balanced book that is well worth the sub-$40 cost.