To the Editor:
It is with decidedly mixed feelings that I encountered your website. I am the author of Neuropsychotherapy and Community Integration: Brain Illness, Emotions, and Behavior (1999), which is linked on your website. I coined the term “neuropsychotherapy” to describe my work, but then discovered that it was already in use. The first use I have encountered was by Ellis in 1989 (not counting a very different use in 1900). From that time until 2004 when Grawe (German edition) gave it the new and different definition that you are using, it has been a term in the field of clinical neuropsychology and brain injury rehabilitation and it has referred to psychotherapy and related techniques for people with brain disabilities. More specifically, here is my definition: “Neuropsychotherapy is the use of neuropsychological knowledge in the psychotherapy or counseling and related interventions for people with brain disabilities and those close to them. It is specialized in content, technique, and social context to address the emotional and behavioral issues of brain disabilities.”
When Grawe’s book came out in English (2007) I welcomed its content, in spite of the confusion. He did not cite the other definition of neuropsychotherapy, nor did he seem aware of the distinctive contributions that my and Ellis’ sense of neuropsychotherapy can contribute to yours. I do think that there is room for creative interaction and mutual benefit between those practicing our original sense of neuropsychotherapy and those practicing your (Grawe’s) revised sense of neuropsychotherapy. But it is more than a little disturbing to me to have my term stolen away and given a new meaning with no acknowledgement of the history of the term. It also leads me to question the depth of the foundation of your movement if it has been apparently totally unaware of our work and has not even stopped to contemplate that such a field exists and is quite pertinent to your endeavors.
But my concern is not just one of confusion of terms or academic priority. It is one of ethical and competent clinical service. I am concerned that people with brain injuries, strokes, dementia, anoxia, brain tumors, encephalitis, toxicities, etc. might seek services from those who advertise themselves as neuropsychotherapists in the Grawe sense and get therapy from a practitioner with little knowledge of brain injuries, the effects, their appropriate treatment, rehabilitation and community resources, etc. and thus deprive them of appropriate treatment or even do harm. I perceive less danger in the other direction because most neuropsychologists are specialists who either will not take on clients with intact brains or do so with appropriate psychotherapy training.
Ellis, D.W. (1989) Neuropsychotherapy. In Neuropsychological Treatment After Brain Injury (eds. DW Ellis & A-L Christensen) Kluwer: Boston. Pp. 241-269.
Tedd Judd, PhD, ABPP-CN
Diplomate in Clinical Neuropsychology