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Lawyers and Judges: How to Select the Best Forensic Psychologist- From McHenry and Elgin

Apr 9, 2008
Like many attorneys and judges, you may have considered having a psychologist evaluate a client who has been criminally charged, the subject of a child custody case, disabled, declared incompetent or suffered a psychological injury. Cases benefiting from a psychological evaluation can also include sex crimes perpetrated on or by minors.

However, the opinion of a psychological expert can apply to a wide variety of legal issues. When selecting one, do not forget that the clinical and treatment experience of him or her can be crucial to your case.

Remember, that the forensic psychologist or other mental health expert is hired by you in order to clarify the psychological and behavioral issues of your case; therefore, to be credible, be sure that he or she has at least a small or moderate size clinical practice.

Your consulting psychologist should be able to comprehend the relevant legal concepts and the impact of relevant psychological issues on your case; he should also be able to communicate his or her findings in ordinary language that the court can understand.

If you are not familiar with mental health law or the potential impact of a psychological issue on your case, you should be able to rely, in a limited way, on your forensic psychologists knowledge and expertise. However, the legalities should be considered the exclusive province of lawyers and judges.

As an attorney or judge, you should also expect your psychological or mental health expert to have a doctoral degree in psychology, that is, a PhD, EdD or PsyD. He or she should be appropriately licensed and a member in good standing of The American Counseling Association, The American Psychological Association or another professional organization with recognized ethics codes.

Your forensic psychologist should be actively practicing and enjoy a good reputation within the profession. His or her background should not include elements which might diminish professional credibility (e.g., license restrictions, frequent malpractice lawsuits).

General counseling or clinical training and experience are often more than sufficient for most forensic purposes. However, occasionally, familiarity with the more highly specialized psychological issues (e.g., sexual harassment, professional practice standards, impact of violence, disability, personal injury) and/or other forensic issues (e.g., criminal responsibility, competency, wrongful death, child custody) may be required.

Such expertise may be demonstrated by additional training, clinical or teaching experience, special certification (e.g., certification in behavioral medicine or counseling), research or the writing of relevant publications.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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