banner ad
Experts Logo

articles

Benefits of Forensic Psychological Evaluations

By: Dr. Ray Kim
Tel: 847-309-7475
Email Dr. Kim


View Profile on Experts.com.


Forensic psychological evaluations have become a valuable resource for the criminal justice system by addressing important forensic questions. For instance, assessing risk for violence can help courts make appropriate decisions on issues such as sentencing, granting privileges, and community reintegration. If an individual is assessed to be a high risk for future violence, a judge has grounds to order a more restrictive setting compared to someone who is a lower risk for recidivism. By tailoring court decisions based on accurate psychological evaluations, the community is safer while the defendant's rights are also protected.

Unfortunately, many experts rely exclusively upon an unstructured clinical opinion when assessing a defendant, which is essentially a "gut feeling." It is very subjective and not advised by today's standards. Research has shown that the likelihood of being correct is no better than chance. Although an unstructured clinical opinion is considered the worst method in terms of reliability and validity, it is the most commonly used method for assessing areas such as risk of violent recidivism.

Current best practices recommend utilizing multiple sources of information when conducting a forensic psychological evaluation, including a comprehensive record review, clinical interview, collateral information, objective psychological testing, and actuarial instruments. First, it is important to review available records, which may include clinical records, police reports, and arrest records. A defendant's history should anchor an expert's opinion because a good predictor of future behavior is past behavior. John Monahan, who is a prominent figure in the field of risk assessment, stated, "if there is one finding that overshadows all others in the area of prediction, it is that the probability of future crime increases with each prior criminal act."

Conducting a thorough clinical interview is the next step in evaluating a defendant. A clinical interview provides information about an individual's psychosocial history, current mental status, and whether the person meets criteria for a psychiatric disorder. The clinical interview consists of both behavioral observations and the individual's self-report. Given their legal circumstances, forensic clients are not usually the most reliable historians. Therefore, it is crucial to obtain collateral information from others, such as treatment providers and family members.

Finally, there are an increasing number of empirically based instruments available for assessing issues such as mental illness, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and dangerousness. For instance, following is a list of objective psychological tests and actuarial instruments usually administered in a sex offender evaluation:

Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest - 3
Multiphasic Sex Inventory - 2
ACUTE - 2007
STABLE - 2007
STATIC - 99R
Psychopathy Checklist - Revised
Violence Risk Appraisal Guide
Inventory of Offender Risk, Needs, and Strengths
Personality Assessment Inventory
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - 2
Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory - 3

It is not merely preferred, but essential that psychological opinions be supported by objective data from contemporary assessment tools. Empirically based forensic psychological evaluations are beneficial for both civil and criminal court. In civil cases, an independent medical examination may be required for cases involving personal injury, workers' compensation, or disability determination. In criminal cases, a psychological evaluation may be court ordered to determine competency to stand trial, legal insanity, risk for violence, or sexual dangerousness.

Given today's technology in the field of forensic psychology, one can be confident in the expert opinion of a qualified forensic scientist. It is difficult to argue against an empirically guided opinion, which is supported by objective psychological data. A favorable forensic evaluation can provide the edge necessary to persuade a judge or jury in court. Therefore, attorneys often find that a credible forensic psychologist's opinion can be beneficial for their clients, as well as ensure the safety of the community.


Ray S. Kim, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Board Certified Forensic Psychologist. Dr. Kim is also a Board Registered Mental Illness / Substance Abuse Provider, Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association, Diplomate of the American Board of Psychological Specialties, Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, and Fellow of the American College of Advanced Practice Psychologists.

©Copyright - All Rights Reserved

DO NOT REPRODUCE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION BY AUTHOR.

Related articles

Emin-Gharibian-Psychology-expert-photo.jpg

6/12/2020· Psychology

Law Enforcement Fitness for Duty Evaluations: The Definitive Guide

By: Dr. Emin Gharibian

Fitness for Duty Evaluations have become more common for public safety positions. Courts throughout the United States have ruled that due to the level of trust and power given law enforcement officers, law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to ensure that officers are fit to perform their duties.

jane-mcnaught-forensic-psychologist-logo.jpg

10/23/2017· Psychology

Evaluating the Psychological Impact of Burns

By: Dr. Jane K. McNaught

Physical traumas such as a serious burn injury can be profoundly traumatic. Serious burns result in sudden unanticipated trauma related to the individual's exposure to a potentially life-threatening experience. One day the burn victim begins their day like any other, and by the end of the day the burn victim's life may be changed forever by the traumatic event experienced. A Forensic Psychological Expert utilizes well respected psychological tests to assess the emotional impact of such injuries. The psychological tests employed are statistically reliable and valid. The choice of valid and reliable psychological tests employed by a Forensic Psychologist are similar to tests used by a physician to diagnose diabetes or other medical disorders. Such tests offer norms that compare the individual in question to a large normative sample, in order to evaluate the burn victim's psychological functioning compared to that of the "normal" person.

Michael-Levittan-Psychotherapist-Expert-photo.jpg

12/12/2011· Psychology

The Key to Anger Management is Being Assertive

By: Dr. Michael Levittan

In today's world, anger management has become a necessary concept to understand and practice in order to effectively navigate the challenges of family, work, school and social life. It is commonly thought that managing angerinvolves not getting angry anymore.

;
Experts.com-No broker Movie Ad
Unicourt Logo Button

Follow us

linkedin logo youtube logo rss feed logo