Neuropsychiatry has two referents: a scientific field and a medical subspecialty.
When used to refer to a scientific field, neuropsychiatry is the integrated study of psychiatric and neurologic disorders. This definition of neuropsychiatry does not connote a particular type of educational background or professional training; instead, it refers broadly and inclusively of the work performed any basic or clinical scientist, educator, clinician, public policy maker, or other individual that seeks to advance our understanding of the neurological bases of psychiatric disorders, the psychiatric manifestations of neurological disorders, and/or the evaluation and care of persons with neurologically based behavioral disturbances. In other words, one’s work can be neuropsychiatric regardless of whether one is trained as a neuropsychiatrist.
When used to refer to a medical subspecialty, neuropsychiatry is one of the two historically separate but parallel clinical disciplines that comprise the medical subspecialty known currently as Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry.
Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry is defined as a medical subspecialty committed to better understanding links between neuroscience and behavior, and to the care of individuals with neurologically based behavioral disturbances. Expertise and clinical competence in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry requires a combination of knowledge and skills that are beyond the scope of those required for the practice of general neurology or general psychiatry, either alone or in combination. While the knowledge base and clinical skills of behavioral neurologists and neuropsychiatrists are built upon on the foundation established by primary training in one or both of these specialties, expertise and clinical competence in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry requires experience specific to the evaluation, differential diagnosis, prognosis, pharmacological treatment, psychosocial management, and neurorehabilitation of persons with complex neuropsychiatric and neurobehavioral conditions. The body of knowledge and clinical skills circumscribed by Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry are additive to those of general psychiatry and general neurology and are distinct from other subdisciplines of these medical specialties. Accordingly, specialized training and focused clinical experiences in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry are needed to achieve competence to practice in this area of medicine. Clinicians qualified to practice in this subspecialty area of medicine may refer to themselves as behavioral neurologists (especially those whose primary training is in neurology), neuropsychiatrists (especially those whose primary training is in psychiatry), or subspecialists in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry.