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Dr. Michelle Ayala, Psy.D.

Dr. Michelle Ayala is a licensed psychologist who specializes in rehabilitation psychology and clinical neuropsychology. She has more than 6 years of experience providing inpatient and outpatient mental health services to the adult and geriatric population. She has worked with a wide range of patients with diverse cultural backgrounds and medical conditions.

Dr. Michelle AyalaDr. Ayala has devoted most of her professional development and practice to the assessment of individuals with known and suspected neurological dysfunction, diagnosis of neuropsychological conditions and psychological/psychiatric disorders, and the development of personalized treatment plans for cognitive and behavioral remediation.

She has experience in the neuropsychological assessment of individuals with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, multiple sclerosis, metabolic conditions, depression, pre/post chemotherapy and/or radiation therapies, pre/post neurosurgical procedures for tumor resection and epilepsy, among others

Dr. Ayala specializes in the use of neuropsychological assessment instruments and normative data appropriate for the Spanish-speaking population. As a Spanish speaking psychologist, she understands values, beliefs, and cultural expectations, as well as culturally sensitive dilemmas that are unique for the Hispanic population. Her interest in neurocognition and behavior lead her to actively be involved in research projects and the publication of research findings.

Dr. Ayala has been practicing as a licensed clinician in the Tampa Bay area for more than a year. She completed a neuropsychology residency at Orlando Health and a fellowship in rehabilitation psychology at Tampa General Hospital. Before moving to Florida, Dr. Ayala worked at a private practice in San Juan. She earned her doctorate degree from Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. Dr. Ayala is a member of the American Psychological Association, National Academy of Neuropsychology, and Hispanic Neuropsychology Society.

Services provided by Dr. Michelle Ayala:

  • Neuropsychological evaluations (NPE)
  • Rehabilitation Psychology Services including cognitive retraining, vocational rehabilitation and counseling, psychosocial adjustment of disability and chronic illness.
  • Inpatient and outpatient psychotherapeutic services including psychological evaluation and psychotherapy.
  • Client-centered consultation services to help health care providers and families better understand and help their clients. Consultation includes assessment of the client, making a diagnosis, and recommending changes to the service provider.

Clinical populations served:

  • Spanish-speaking – Dr. Ayala specializes in the use of neuropsychological assessment instruments and normative data appropriate for the Spanish-speaking population.
  • Adult and geriatric patients

What is a Neuropsychological Assessment?

  • A detailed evaluation of neurocognitive abilities and behaviors with the use of standardized instruments and clinical observations.
  • Obtained data is typically analyzed using demographically corrected norms (e.g. age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and level of education) to determine the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Neuropsychological tests results aid in the understanding of brain function/dysfunction and provides predictions about the level of functioning in real-world situations.

What may prompt a Neuropsychological evaluation?

  • To determine neurobehavioral diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment recommendations.
  • Aid in the understanding of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes secondary to a medical condition, predicts behavioral outcomes, and facilitates treatment and rehabilitation planning.
  • Need of comprehensive assessment of known or suspected organic/medical conditions that have an impact in cognition and behavior directly interfering with activities of daily living. Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Neurological disorders, Orthopedic injuries, amputations, medical conditions with potentially disabling features (cardiovascular conditions, cancer, AIDS, etc.).
  • Establishment of baseline cognitive profiles.
  • Clarify questions of differential diagnosis (e.g. depression vs. dementia or both).
  • Evaluation of possible cognitive and behavioral effects of psychopharmacological or other medical treatments.
  • Monitor changes in cognition and behavior over the course of medical and psychiatric conditions and/or treatments.

What is typically assessed?

  • General intellectual ability
  • Academic skills
  • Attention, concentration and processing
  • Executive skills including problem solving and conceptualization
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Visuospatial and construction abilities
  • Sensorimotor skills
  • Emotional and behavioral functioning including mood / psychological state
  • Personality
  • Depending on the referral question, some cognitive domains are measured in more detail than others.