17| The Art and Science of Delivering Feedback – A Conversation With Dr. Karen Postal

Effective communication of neuropsychological test results and recommendations is a nuanced practice that is considered both a science and an art.  Today we bring you our conversation with Karen Postal, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, the past president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology and the lead author of the book Feedback that Sticks: The Art of Effectively Communicating Neuropsychological Assessment Results.  We talk with Dr. Postal about how to provide effective feedback as a neuropsychologist and how we can refine the communication of findings to maximize the benefit to our patients and referral sources.

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

If you’d like to receive APA-approved CE credit for listening to this episode, click here.

Topics Covered (with time stamps)

  • What neuropsychological feedback is and why it matters (2:50)
  • Tips for maximizing the format of a feedback session (11:01)
  • The importance of the family system in feedback (12:00)
  • How to communicate important scientific and clinical information in a digestible manner (20:14)
  • The importance of clear language and the downsides of overusing technical jargon (24:49)
  • Tips for conducting clinical interviews in a way that will set up the feedback session for success (32:25)
  • The extent to which it might be useful to discuss raw test data in a feedback session (50:47)
  • How to meet the patient where they are at rather than using the “diagnose and adios!” method (56:26)

About Karen

Dr. Postal is the immediate past president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, and an instructor at Harvard Medical school.  Her research focuses on helping clinicians and neuroscientists improve communication with patients and the general public.  She is the author of Feedback that Sticks: the Art of Communicating Neuropsychological Assessment Results, and (in press) Testimony That Sticks: the Art of Communicating Neuropsychology and Psychology to Juries.  Dr. Postal has a private practice dedicated to helping people think better in school, at work, and throughout later life.


Here’s a link to Dr. Postal’s book that was the basis for our conversation with her:

Selected References

Braun, M., Tupper, D., Kaufmann, P., McCrea, M., Postal, K., Westerveld, M., … & Deer, T. (2011). Neuropsychological assessment: A valuable tool in the diagnosis and management of neurological, neurodevelopmental, medical, and psychiatric disorders. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology24(3), 107-114.

Postal, K., Chow, C., Jung, S., Erickson-Moreo, K., Geier, F., & Lanca, M. (2018). The stakeholders’ project in neuropsychological report writing: A survey of neuropsychologists’ and referral sources’ views of neuropsychological reports. The Clinical Neuropsychologist32(3), 326-344.

Postal, K. S., Wynkoop, T. F., Caillouet, B., Most, R., Roebuck-Spencer, T., Westerveld, M., … & Pliskin, N. H. (2014). 360 Degree advocacy: A model for high impact advocacy in a rapidly changing healthcare marketplace. The Clinical Neuropsychologist28(2), 167-180.