Our practice has been serving the community successfully for over 40 years. We offer a wide array of forensic services including forensic evaluations, social investigations, injury assessments, assessing psychological mitigating circumstances and others. We are ready to assist with any case and are a phone call way, contact us today!
A social investigation involves a thorough analysis for the court of what is in the best interests of the child. It is an evaluation ordered by the court when parents cannot agree on a parenting schedule and/or the decision making responsibilities regarding the health, education, and extra curricular activities of children. As pointed out in the American Psychological Association (APA), ” From the court’s perspective, the most valuable contributions of psychologists are those that reflect a clinically astute and scientifically sound approach to legally relevant issues. (pg. 864)
A social investigation consists of interviews with all concerned parties, individually and with eachother. Each parent is then invited to perform a task with each child in the investigator’s office toassess how well they cooperate with each other. The investigator then interviews significant people ineach child’s life including teachers, babysitters, and tutors as well as individuals who are familiar withthe parenting skills of the adults parties. These are known as collateral interviews. The investigatoralso assesses the home of each parent to ensure a safe, secure, and child friendly environment.Psychological testing is also administered when appropriate.
When the evaluation is complete, the forensic evaluator is expected to write a comprehensive reportfor the court. This report should address the strengths and weaknesses of each parent as well as anypsychological issues affecting the best interests of the child. It may also recommend special serviceswhen required including psychotherapy, the need for a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), the need for aparent coordinator, or the need for tutoring.
Assessing Emotional Sequelae of Injuries
In addition to physical injury many individuals suffer emotional consequences from accidents, disaster,or assault. Such conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, depression, or anxiety can occur. The nature and severity of the condition determines both the amount of pain and suffering as well as the types and frequency of t required to ameliorate their condition. The forensic psychologist can determine whether there is a psychological disturbance and whether the event inconsideration is the proximate cause of that condition. The forensic psychologist can also provide the lawyer with an estimate of the cost for treatment.
Assessing Psychological Mitigating Circumstances
The forensic psychologist evaluates the client to assess whether there are any variables that are important in the understanding the client’s degree of culpability in committing a crime. Garry Melton, a forensic researcher, and his colleagues outline seven influences that may be important inconsideration of mitigating circumstance. These include mental age, immaturity, unstable family background, lack of adequate role models, physical or psychological impairment, chemical intoxicants, stress, and major psychological issues.
A forensic evaluation is a generic term used for any psychological evaluation ordered by the court. It’s purpose is to assess the presence and severity of psychological problems of an individual. At a minimum, these evaluations assess for the presence and severity of any major mental health disorder,Axis I disorder, or personality disorder, Axis II disorder. The court may further order that the psychologist evaluate the potential for such specific difficulties as the potential for domestic violence,child abuse or neglect, substance abuse, violence, or the presence and severity of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A forensic evaluation includes the following: a thorough clinical interview, the administration of at least two psychological tests, and a report. The clinical interview involves a comprehensive developmental history and psychological history of the individual. The comprehensive report addresses the referral questions of the court.
As to the length of a forensic evaluation, the assessment interview usually requires from one to threehours. Psychological testing ranges from a minimum of three to seven hours. A psychological reportmay take from two to four hours to complete.