Thomas Bristow, Psy.D.
I was initially educated and trained in the field of clinical psychology, having received a Master of Arts degrees in Clinical Psychology, and a PsyD from the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. I interned at the student counseling center of the University of Virginia where my interest in neuropsychology began during a 15-week rotation at UVA’s Blue Ridge Psychiatric Hospital, administering supervised neuropsychological evaluations. Based on this interest I decided to further my education by obtaining an advanced certificate in clinical neuropsychology from the Fielding Institute. I also hold a Master of Arts degree in Moral Theology along with a Master of Divinity degree. Over the course of my career I has worked in private practice, psychiatric hospitals, and school districts. I was a full-time, staff psychologist for the DuPage County Jail for 15 years and has recently retired from that position. Currently, I am a tenured, full professor at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. I was elected as chair of the psychology department to oversee and administrate 16 full-time and 3 half-time faculty serving both a large undergraduate population, a Human Resource Management program, and two graduate programs. I also am the chair of the Chairs Committee consisting of 22 departments for the College of Arts and Sciences. My studious interests are in evolutionary cognition and the neuroscience of consciousness. My current research explores the relationship between memory and movement.
I am board certified with the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology and was invited to join the Board of Directors of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology as an assistant to the president. The following year I was appointed as treasurer and served in that role for two terms. I continue to be of service to the organization as both a Work Sample and an Oral Examiner. I was a recent recipient of the Organization’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of my work and service to the Board.
I believe and profess that the future of psychology and neuropsychology will necessarily become more interwoven in the neurosciences; making neuropsychology an even more significant field of study. Thus, I advocate for and promote research and development of neuropsychological theory and assessment. I believe that, with the advancement of technology in the neurosciences, the current procedures and instruments of neuropsychological assessment needs a gentrification to develop better assessment tools that align themselves more closely with the rapid discoveries in the neurosciences.
Dr. Bristow is a member of the following organizations:
- American Board of Professional Neuropsychology (Member)
- American College of Professional Neuropsychology (Fellow)
- National Academy of Neuropsychology (Member - Professional)
Candidate Positions on the Issues:
How does your background qualify you for this office?
I have been involved in the field of neuropsychology since my internship in 1990 which I discussed in my personal bio. I first became an associate member with NAN in 1992 and then a professional member in 2006. Thus, for the past 28 years I have been involved with the field of neuropsychology, and grew and developed within the field. As stated in my bio, I have had previous board experience as assistant to the president, treasurer, board member, and examiner. My leadership abilities are also exemplified as chair of a large psychology department and university wide as chair of the Chair’s Committee for a college.
In NAN’s Mission Statement, objectives two, three, and seven state that NAN’s mission is to disseminate neuropsychological knowledge, promote research of brain-behavior relationships, and provide education to the public, fostering healthy behavior and prevention of illness. The common thread of these three objectives is education. I have been associated with higher education for 35 years, starting with teaching in 1983. Throughout my career, I have been in the classroom either as student or teacher and most of time both.
What do you see as the major challenges to neuropsychology in the next 5 years? How do you believe NAN, under your leadership, can be effective in meeting these challenges?
When Dr. Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer spoke at the NAN conference last year regarding Alzheimer’s disease, she made a very significant statement regarding neuropsychological assessments of this disorder. She said, and I paraphrase from memory, that paper and pencil tests are insufficient. New computerized assessments and means need to be developed to assess this issue. I totally concur with her position. Over my years of writing and reading neuropsychological assessments, I have found that, when excluding the quality variable, we are all very similar in structure, style and content because we are all products of very similar training. With the rapid advancements in technology regarding the neurosciences, I do question whether our current assessment instruments and procedures will adequately address the discoveries that are soon to come. To prevent ourselves from becoming antiquated (some neuropsychological instruments already are), I believe we need to rethink and reevaluate what we do, how we do it, and create new assessment instruments to keep pace with the advancements in neuroscience.
As a Member-at-Large, moving forward on this perspective would only occur if other members have similar concerns. If there are shared thoughts, then I would like to be active with the board initiating and shaping this conversation.
How would you promote professional practice?
When neuropsychological assessment is administered outside of medical centers and legal realm, I think that the consumer lacks an understanding of neuropsychological evaluation and are overwhelmed by its cost. To support and promote the private practitioner and her/his practice, organizations in neuropsychology like NAN need to be in the frontrunners in educating the consumer about neuropsychological assessment, and its purpose and benefits. Organizations in neuropsychology need to be more active in research by collecting data from practitioners about their administration procedures, assessment tools, time effectiveness, and cost of assessment. All for the goal of streamlining neuropsychological evaluations to make them more time efficient and affordable.
How do you plan to bridge science and practice?
To reinforce the bridge between the neurosciences and neuropsychology, three points come to mind.
One. Over the recent NAN conventions, there have been presentations (Dr. Butters - Depression & Dementia, Dr. Bigler - Advanced Neuroimaging, Dr. Welsh-Bohmer - Cognitive Aging & Dementia) that have had specific neuroscience information and data. I think that all neuropsychological organizations need to solicit presenters from the neurosciences for their respective conferences.
Two. Neuropsychologists should be encouraged to look outside of just professional practice. In the academic realm there is a place for the neuropsychologist to teach, and more importantly to conduct research in conjunction with the other neurosciences.
Three. Neuropsychologists should be encouraged to become members of neuroscience organizations and attend their conferences. I have made the commitment to attend the yearly conference for the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Neuroscience. At last year’s conference, Dr. Ann McKee, the Director of Boston University's CTE Center and Chief of Neuropathology at the Boston VA Medical Center, Boston University, presented on “Football and the Brain”. The information she discussed was very helpful in understanding the vascular issues regarding CTE. The neuroscience conferences are very informative and valuable to the work we do in our profession.