The Important Elements of Psychological Forensic Work

THE QUESTION
The question marks the start. Formulating the question is the most important task for the attorney with the forensic evaluator.

  • What is it you want to know about the client to present to the court?
  • What is the puzzle?

The Forensic Psychologist can help you define that question and thus provide - perhaps the most useful - information you need for the Court.

THE PROCESS
While different in every case, there is much similarity among the procedures followed in conducting forensic psychological evaluations.

It goes something like this:

  1. The attorney calls to ask if the psychologist will take the case.
  2. Paperwork follows, seeking proper releases and consent regarding the limited confidentiality and other aspects of the process.
  3. The psychologist begins the evaluation process. It may look something like the following:
  4. The psychologist sends Questionnaires for the party (parties) to respond to
  5. The parties are administered formal testing.
  6. Tests are scored and integrated.
  7. The forensic psychologist conducts in-depth interviews of the attorney’s client.
  8. The psychologist integrates the materials, and formulates new questions that need to be addressed.
  9. The psychologist gathers further information from the party.
  10. The psychologist integrates all the material one more time.
  11. The psychologist interviews collateral witnesses who can inform the court about the parties.
  12. The psychologist seeks consultation as called for.
  13. That material is integrated.
  14. A report is finalized and given to the appropriate parties and/or the Court.

THE RELATIONSHIP
In a forensic case the evaluator has the attorney as client. The relationship is between the evaluator and the attorney. The person being evaluated for forensic purposes is not the client and as such has no relationship with the psychologist other than that of being the “ evaluee.” Thus the psychologist enters the contract with the attorney and arranges for the payment of the services with the attorney. The psychologist cannot treat the person being evaluated, and only in special and defined circumstances can that evaluation lead to advocacy (such as in Capital Cases).