I provide diagnostic evaluations, psychological testing, and attorney consultation services. Forensic psychology is the interface of psychology and the law, so all psychological services provided for the legal community are forensic psychological services. Most forensic psychologists provide services which are both clinical and forensic in nature. When a psychologist treats an individual who was emotionally traumatized by an accident, the treatment is clinical in nature, designed to assist the individual in recovering from the trauma. But when the psychologist is asked to provide a report for the court, regarding the extent of the trauma, and to assess the psychological damage incurred, then the psychologist is providing a forensic service.
Psychological evaluation and consulting services intended to assist the courts in determining decisions regarding family, civil, or criminal matters, require a detailed, situation-specific assessment strategy which goes beyond the typical psychological evaluation completed for clinical purposes. A forensic psychological report can include the following:
- The summary and conclusions must relate directly to the legal issues of the case.
- The relationship between psychological factors and the legal issues should be described.
- The findings should reflect standard psychological practice.
- Criticism of other experts and/or treatment providers is acceptable, but the expert should explain identified problems with their methods and/or conclusions.
- Research that supports the expert's conclusions should be noted.
- The recommendations must be practical.
- Treatment recommendations should reflect services available in the community.
- Implementation of the recommendations must be possible within the resources available through the legal system.
- Recommendations should be clearly stated without professional jargon.
- Psychologists should refrain from making recommendations that are not psychological in nature, regarding the legal issues.
After completing a forensic evaluation, psychologists should be able to logically defend their conclusions, using explanations which are understandable to non-psychologists. Psychological experts must be able to explain complex psychological issues to non-psychologists, whether it be to a judge or to a jury, as the finder of fact. The issues should be presented in clear and simple language. The conclusions and recommendations of the expert should assist the fact finder in reaching a decision, and should not add confusion to that process.
For these reasons, psychologists who complete forensic evaluations should have a broad clinical background, excellent assessment skills, superior communication skills, and experience in completing psychological evaluations in a legal setting. Psychologists should evaluate the facts of the case, and render an opinion regarding the psychological issues present. Psychologists should not offer opinions outside their area of professional competence. Psychologists are expected to function as experts within the limitations of their profession, and must recognize and identify those limitations as part of their work as experts.
A Better Way to Divorce
A Collaborative Divorce is based on three principles:
1. A pledge not to go to court
2. An honest and open exchange of information between both spouses
3. Solutions that address the needs of and concerns of all family members.
Collaborative divorce is designed to be civilized, sophisticated, creative, and respectful for parties wishing to find a solution to their separation rather than assign blame. It is designed for parents who need and desire to find a way to co-parent their children despite their separation and minimize the negative impact of the divorce on the children. It is devised for those who value privacy as financial and personal issues are not discussed in open court. It is for couples who prefer to be in control of their divorce rather than letting a judge decide. Ideally, it is best to meet with me first, before each of you retains an attorney. We will start with several session of divorce coaching. Aftera few sessions, you may want to try to reconcile or you may want to proceed with the divorce. At that point, I can refer you to attorneys that are collaboratively-trained and would be a good fit. We will also work to find a neutral collaboratively-trained financial professional that would assist in the process without making the family finances public. The goal of the collaborative divorce process is to resolve all issues relating to the separation in a non-adversarial manner. The process reduces conflict and maintains trust. Especially when children are involved, it facilates cooperation which is essential for reducing the impact on the children. Other than the final agreement and the uncontested divorce hearing, there are no court papers to be prepared and no court hearings. The result is usually far less costly and time-consuming than traditional adversarial divorces. I would be there with you throughout the process to provide support and guidance.
The role I serve as a Divorce Coach is simple: It is to facilitate a safe divorce for both spouses and to help navigate you past the problems of negotiating parenting time, divvying up property, coping with the pain of separation. If both participants agree, after signing a release of information that affirms videos of the process can never be used in any divorce proceeding, I may videotape portions of couple sessions to provide you with feedback to help you negotiate better. The more empowered each side feels, the more trust and assertive each participant will be. Often what throws a wrench in the works is when the balance of power is tilted so the other party is viewed as unfair or unreasonable. One spouse copes with feeling helpless by becoming enraged. The other feels resentful and all the more certain they cannot be reasonable with someone so intoxicated with anger and spite. Having a video to provide objective feedback can help clue all parties in to how to fight fair and not waste time arguing when we can be constructively and respectfully negotiate instead.