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Emotional Injuries, Damages? How To Choose A Psychologist To Examine Your Client-From Chicago

Aug 5, 2008
If you've been researching the psychological assessment process required to assess psychological injury, damage or disability, you know by now that it is a lot more complicated than just giving a few tests. The process of forensic and psychological evaluation of emotional injuries resulting from an accident can involve hundreds of clinical issues, numerous testing instruments and interviews of collateral contacts of the victim.

There are not a lot of psychologists who practice in this area compared to others because it can be a pain in the neck to deal with victims, adversaries, the legal process and even the lawyers themselves. Most psychologists prefer to practice in a cooperative problem-solving environment, rather than the adversarial and red tape-laden legal arena.

The psychological assessment of accident victims is complicated, time-consuming, sometimes contentious and the assessments themselves can involve red tape and a long time to complete. Most of us that do practice in this area do so because, despite the headaches, its important and can aid the judicial system in assessing fair amounts of compensation to the victims.

Also, some clients have nowhere else to turn. The injuries they face, their loss of income, their overwhelming anxiety and depression, the catastrophic decline in their life quality, job loss, the disruption in their family relationships, the confusion resulting from the legal process and even the possible afflictions with substance abuse require that adequate remedies be mandated.

Many defendants have little money, need to use the contingent fee model when hiring an attorney and those who do have financial resources are often on the verge of losing everything, or already have. If any of your clients are psychologically compromised because of an accident, as their attorney, due diligence would mandate that you determine how much they have been impaired or compromised.

So, if you've made the decision to hire a psychologist to do an assessment of your clients psychological injuries, what should you look for? By far, the most important criterion is length and breadth of professional experience.

You do not want a psychologist who dabbles in personal injury cases. Psychological testing, assessment and clinical treatment should be an important part of his or her practice. To screen your client for appropriateness, you must have some suspicion that your client may be impaired because of the accident.

You should be familiar with the mindset of your client and have reason to believe that he or she is suffering emotionally because of circumstances arising from it. Is your client being treated by a mental health professional? If not, should she be?

Does she have any symptoms of psychological damage, for instance, depression, anxiety, marital problems, substance abuse? What are the observations of her significant others regarding the appropriateness of her behavior?

Is she taking any psychotropic drugs? If so, for what? Is it possible that your client has any psychological condition caused by the accident that results in problems with concentration, communication, problem-solving or maintaining a job or relationship?

The psychologist should have access to your clients medical records, family history, psychological records and work records. Also, not unimportantly, he should have an excellent interview technique so he can develop a rapport with your client.

Only with good rapport, will he be able to elicit information from your client that is detailed and accurate. Your consulting psychologist should demonstrate interest, enthusiasm and openness.

He should be accessible by phone, email and always respond to your queries promptly. It does not matter where your consulting psychologist is located.

If he is licensed as a psychologist in any state, under the appropriate conditions, he can practice on a per project basis anywhere.

Here are some sample questions you might ask when communicating with a prospective consulting psychologist:

1. How many psychological and court-related assessments have you done?

Answer: The answer should be over fifty.

2. My client has these symptoms_________. Do you have experience with this type of case?

Answer: The answer should, of course, be yes.

3. Will you be available so that I can ask questions by email or phone?

Answer: Absolutely.

4. If you are not local, can you fly out and do the assessment personally?

Answer: Yes, as long as the expenses are paid.
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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