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If there is a word related to psychology that is well-being and that is the word with which the interviewee receives us today when visiting her website. We talk about Sofia Velat Llavona. General Health Psychologist Expert in Gerontology and Specialist in Clinical Neuropsychology.
First of all Sofia, thank you very much for attending, since we know that you are a very busy person.
Thank you for the interest in the subject.
We would like you to tell us to start something about you for example. Why did you decide to study psychology and since when do you practice in your practice?
Well, the fact of studying psychology was fortuitous due to an error in the enrollment of the University. I started the race for not losing the year and I was fascinated. It is a discipline that I had not considered, but that knowing her closely I fell in love, so I decided to continue.
In Neuropsychology practice since 2014, both with patients with dementia or acquired brain damage, as well as with their relatives who attend with various mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression mainly. Since January of this year I have been consulting General Health Psychology, in Oviedo.
We know that you are passionate about your job but if you had not worked as a psychologist ... What would you have been professionally dedicated to?
My first option was to study biology, I had a great teacher at the institute who had made me adore this discipline, however the approach to psychology made me change my mind.
Do you remember your first patient as a psychologist and what impact did it have professionally?
Of course! I believe that the first patient never forgets, insecurities arise and also the fascination of seeing and treating the syndromes and symptoms that you have seen so theoretically. In my case it was a man with an aphasia acquired after a cerebrovascular accident. For me it was fascinating.
You are an expert in Gerontology. Can you explain what exactly Gerontology is and what relationship does your work have in this professional union?
My first specialization was in gerontology, as you can see on my website, I also run a nursing home since 2007, so this discipline is fundamental in my professional field. In addition, it directly complements the specialization in Neuropsychology in the study of dementias. Gerontology is the discipline that studies old age and all the phenomena that involve it, it is a discipline that projects a global image of aging and seeks to improve the quality of life and well-being of adults to promote active and healthy aging.
We continue reading your interesting website and we see that reference is made to Hypnosis, a field in which you are also trained. Can you briefly comment on what it consists of?
Hypnosis is used in the framework of therapy as another technique, that is, hypnosis is not a therapy by itself, but that complements other techniques used in session and with it we get faster changes and better results. I always define my patients with hypnosis as a learning we automate, such as driving or learning a certain movement in a sport. A hypnotic trance state is induced, usually through deep relaxation, and the patient receives suggestions suggested for the problem to be treated.
Well, we get to the point that interests us especially in the interview. Neuropsychology ... Sofia What is neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology is a subdiscipline of neuroscience that studies brain-behavioral relationships. Study the effects that an injury, damage or abnormal functioning in the structures of the central nervous system cause on cognitive, psychological, emotional and individual behavior processes.
The goal of neuropsychology in the clinic is to perform a neuropsychological evaluation of the deficits secondary to a neurological pathology, to develop an individualized treatment plan that allows the person to achieve the highest degree of adaptation and autonomy in their environment; that is, to achieve an adequate quality of life for both the person and the family.
What relationship do we find between Psychology and Neuropsychology?
We found a close relationship between the two since, as a consequence of a neurological disorder, cognitive functions such as memory, executive functions, visospatial skills, attention or language can be affected, but sometimes behavioral alterations and / or emotional effects that can affect the daily routines of the people affected and their personal and work environment.
Therefore, neuropsychological rehabilitation should not forget to address these behavioral and emotional disorders, working with the person globally.
Do you think it is well known what is neuropsychology or is it still something unknown?
Professional associations are working hard to be recognized as a specialization and have more presence in the public sphere. There is still much to do and raise awareness of the benefits that the person, in the first place, and public health, ultimately has the figure of Neuropsychology in the hospital setting. For example, in Asturias there is only one public professional of Neuropsychology for the whole territory, which is clearly insufficient.
In the private sphere, luckily, discipline is more noticeable. It has become known in the field of dementia and cognitive impairment, but more and more people with acquired brain damage benefit from neuropsychological rehabilitation.
Why do you think people relate Neurology to Neuropsychology and sometimes confuse it?
Both disciplines study pathology of the central nervous system, neurology in its medical sphere and neuropsychology in its cognitive, behavioral and affective field. It seems easy to confuse it if you are not immersed in the world of neuro, either as a professional, or as a patient.
Really interesting but what prompted you to study neuropsychology?
In the race my favorite subjects were those related to the bio, there was a compulsory course of Cognitive Neuropsychology taught by Fernando Cuetos that I loved. Then I took another optional subject of Clinical Neuropsychology and finally, when I was already working in the residence with people with dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment (DCL), I decided to train in the specialization of Clinical Neuropsychology to complete and complement my knowledge in the field.
What kind of patients do you usually treat in neuropsychology speaking in terms of ages and characteristics?
In my case, I have the largest number of patients in older people who come with doubts about their mnesic processes. They begin to have memory losses and other associated symptoms such as irritability or personality changes and want to discern if they are faced with a degenerative disorder such as dementia, DCL or depression. Differential diagnosis is essential to focus treatment.
However, another important group of patients correspond to patients who have suffered a cerebrovascular accident or even a craniocerebral accident with cognitive, emotional or behavioral consequences. In this second group the ages are very varied, but mostly they are men between 25 and 50 years old.
We continue to take a tour of your website and we see that you offer workshops. Are they present in your consultation? Tell us a little about them ...
It depends on the group and the workshop. But it is not usual to do them in consultation but rather in the premises of the various associations, NGOs or companies that hire this workshop. For example, the last workshop I taught about gender issues was offered at a detoxification center and its assistants, between 10-12 people, were mostly men with an average age of 40 years.
The number of people in the group depends on the workshop, it is not the same to speak and discuss gender issues, in which you can establish a debate with 10-15 people, than to give a memory workshop that you have to personalize the exercises, explain them individually and be pending in case doubts arise attendees.
As a health professional, what are you most proud of your job?
For me it is a pleasure to see the progress of the people who come for help in my consultation. The moment we decide that you can walk alone, the moment you are no longer necessary, is always a joy for any health professional.
We know that you are a very proactive professional, what would you like to do professionally that you have not yet done?
I always have something in mind! My next goal is to train in Ericksonian Hypnosis. But in the distant future I do not want to rule out the possibility of training in sexology because it is another area of psychology that has always caught my attention.
Would you recommend Psychoactive?
Of course! I am very active in social networks and I usually share many of the articles you publish. They are of great help to both professionals and the general population.
Well, thank you very much for this interview Sofia, we have learned more about well-being and neuropsychology, but above all we have learned from a great professional, a hug. See you soon.
Interview conducted by David Álvarez