The role of the psychologist in assessments of mental capacity
Capacity is a construct with clinical, ethical and legal referents; it may be unique among clinical constructs. The need for a mental capacity assessment usually arises in response to an urgent or unforeseen situation and often has to be completed quickly. The psychologist will be tasked with assessing mental capacity urgently whilst alerting the local safeguarding team and ensuring that other remedial actions are taken to protect the vulnerable adult. Clinical and neuropsychologists should always do more than just administer psychometric tests when undertaking any assessment and not rely on a single source of evidence. In order to use the title “Clinical Neuropsychologist”, the practitioner must be entered onto the Specialist Register of Clinical Neuropsychologists held by the Division of Neuropsychology. Clinical neuropsychologists are, therefore, uniquely placed in terms of capacity assessments, to understand both the workings of the brain and the, often, idiosyncratic patterns of behaviour which can follow changes to the brain.