Learning Forensic Assessment
eBook - ePub

Learning Forensic Assessment

Research and Practice

Rebecca Jackson, Ronald Roesch, Rebecca Jackson, Ronald Roesch

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eBook - ePub

Learning Forensic Assessment

Research and Practice

Rebecca Jackson, Ronald Roesch, Rebecca Jackson, Ronald Roesch

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Über dieses Buch

Major developments in the field since the publication of Learning Forensic Assessment are integrated in this revised edition, including revised editions of the DSM-5, HCR-20 scale, and child custody guidelines.

This textbook is designed for graduate students learning forensic assessment and psychologists coming to forensic practice later in their careers. It is organized around five broad areas: Professional and Practice Issues, Adult Forensic Assessment, Juvenile Forensic Assessment, Civil Forensic Assessment, and Communicating Your Findings.

Each chapter begins with a strong teaching and learning foundation. The latter part of each chapter is assessment specific, covering available assessment measures and approaches to assessment. The authors go well beyond simple descriptions of assessment measures and provide a conceptual discussion of the evaluation process that helps the reader understand how assessment measures fit into the overall evaluation process. The evaluation component is geared toward assessing the important aspects of the construct as laid out in the early part of each chapter. Each chapter then concludes with a case example to illustrate the measures and techniques described.

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Part I
Professional and Practice Issues

1 Training in Forensic Assessment and Intervention

Implications for Principle-Based Models

David DeMatteo, Jeffrey Burl, Sarah Filone, and Kirk Heilbrun
The field of forensic psychology as a distinct subdiscipline within professional psychology has emerged relatively recently but grown rapidly. There are several indicators of the field’s growth and development. For example, there are a number of national and international professional organizations devoted to law and psychology/psychiatry, including the American Psychology-Law Society; the European Association of Psychology and Law; the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Law; the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology; the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; and the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. The availability of psychological research and literature relating to forensic practice began to expand by the mid-1970s, and there are now numerous professional journals devoted to publishing empirical, theoretical, and practice articles relevant to law and psychology, including Behavioral Sciences and the Law; Criminal Justice and Behavior; International Journal of Forensic Mental Health; Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; Law and Human Behavior; and Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. A more recent indicator of the growth of forensic psychology is the publication of the Best Practices for Forensic Mental Health Assessment series by Oxford University Press (see Heilbrun, Grisso, & Goldstein, 2009), which serves as a collection of “best practice” books for various types of forensic mental health assessments.
The acceptance of psychologists in court proceedings represents another area of growth. Early court decisions rejected psychologists as testifying experts, holding that only physicians were qualified to offer testimony on mental health issues (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). Although psychologists occasionally were permitted to offer courtroom testimony in the early 20th century, it was not until 1962 that Judge David Bazelon, then a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, wrote in Jenkins v. United States that psychologists who were appropriately qualified could testify in court as experts in mental disorders. Jenkins was a watershed moment for forensic psychologists, and a market for highly specialized forensic mental health assessments began to emerge shortly after the Jenkins decision. Based on practitioner estimates, it is reasonable to conclude that tens of thousands of forensic mental health assessments are conducted annually by psychologists and other mental health professionals (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 2007; Otto & Heilbrun, 2002).
This chapter focuses on another indicator of the growth of forensic psychology—the proliferation of specialized training programs. Formal law-psychology and forensic psychology training programs emerged in the early 1970s, and in recent years the number of specialized training programs has increased considerably. This chapter begins by defining forensic psychology and the role of forensic psychologists. Next, we discuss educational and training opportunities in forensic psychology, with a particular focus on (1) the practice, educational, and training opportunities available to students and practitioners in the field; (2) the diversity in training models employed in these various training programs; and (3) whether current training models adequately prepare students to become forensic practitioners. We then narrow the focus to training in forensic assessment and intervention, and in that section we compare forensic assessment and intervention and then explore best practice models for the delivery of such services. The discussion of best practice models highlights the role of existing principle-based approaches to forensic assessment, and how such models might be constructed in the area of forensic intervention. We conclude the chapter with a discussion of how principle-based approaches could enhance the quality of forensic training and practice.

The Role of Forensic Psychologists

Since the American Psychological Association (APA) formally recognized forensic psychology as a discrete specialization in 2001, forensic psychology has gained widespread acceptance as a freestanding practice specialty. There is, however, inconsistency in the terminology used to describe this discipline. For example, in place of forensic psychology, one may see the terms psychology and law (DeMatteo, Marczyk, Krauss, & Burl, 2009), criminal justice psychology (Olver, Preston, Camilleri, Helmus, & Starzomski, 2011; Simourd & Wormith, 1995), and forensic/legal psychology (Levine, Wilson, & Sales, 1980). One reason for the varying names given to this area of psychology is the differing meanings of the term forensic. Traditionally, forensic referred to matters relating to the court, but forensic psychology has also included any activity at the interface between psychology and the law (Levine et al., 1980). Therefore, depending on one’s use of the term forensic, the activities of providing treatment in a correctional system, applying psychological principles to law enforcement selection, or conducting research on psycholegal topics have all fallen within the realm of forensic psychology. The use of differing names for the field is perhaps an effort to provide an inclusive umbrella for these diverse areas of research and practice.
Issues of nomenclature are further complicated by disagreement as to whether various domains of psychology and law fall within the professional ambit of forensic psychology. For example, police psychology is a specific application of psychology within the criminal justice system. Over its history, police psychology has developed into a specialized practice area within applied psychology (e.g., Scrivner, Corey, & Greene, 2014). However, despite its direct connection to the law, it typically is not considered within the sphere of forensic psychology (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). Correctional psychology has also often been identified as a domain of forensic psychology, but it too is often seen by its practitioners as a unique branch of psychological practice. It is defined by a core body of knowledge and clinical skills, and effective correctional psychology practice requires specific training and educational experiences to obtain these competencies (Gendreau & Goggin, 2014; Magaletta, Patry, Dietz, & Ax, 2007). Professionally, psychologists practicing within correctional settings appear primarily to identify themselves as correctional psychologists as opposed to forensic psychologists (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). In addition, forensic psychology graduate programs and professional conferences offer little exposure to correctional psychology in relation to other areas of the law (Burl, Shah, Filone, Foster & DeMatteo, 2012; Magaletta et al., 2013), although efforts have been made in recent years to address this gap (see American Psychology-Law Society, 2009).
There remains debate within the field of forensic psychology, therefore, over the definition and scope of the discipline. Although some definitions of forensic psychology are relatively narrow and restrictive, other definitions, particularly those offered more recently, are broad and inclusive. These broader definitions reflect the evolving and expanding role of forensic psychology. For contextual purposes, some of the definitions of forensic psychology, both narrow and broad, are discussed in this chapter.
The APA accepted a narrow approach to defining forensic psychology when it officially recognized the discipline as a specialty area in 2001. After much debate about the nature and definition of forensic psychology, the petition for recognition of forensic psychology as a specialty area, which was submitted to APA by the American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of APA) and the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP), limited the field’s scope primarily to the clinical aspects of forensic assessment, treatment, and consultation (Otto & Heilbrun, 2002). As such, those psychologists practicing within nonclinical areas of law and psychology (e.g., social, cognitive, developmental, experimental) were not included in the definition of forensic psychology.
In recent years, broader definitions of forensic psychology have been advanced. For example, the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (APA, 2013b), which was jointly developed by the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP) and adopted as APA policy in August 2011, defines forensic psychology as “professional practice by any psychologist working within any subdiscipline of psychology (e.g., clinical, developmental, social, cognitive) when applying the scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law to assist in addressing legal, contractual, and administrative matters” (p. 7). This is a broad definition that encompasses both clinical and nonclinical subdisciplines of psychology, and it recognizes that forensic psychologists can offer assistance to the legal system through both applied and nonapplied practice. A comparably broad definition of forensic psychology was adopted by the ABFP, which provides board certification in forensic psychology under the umbrella of the ABPP. The ABFP (2014) defines forensic psychology as the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.
The broadest conceptualization of forensic psychology advocates using psychological knowledge and research not only to assist legal actors within the judicial system, but also to act as a therapeutic agent and evolutionary force within legal contexts. Under this definition, forensic psychology can act as a guide and advocate for making the law more therapeutic, thereby helping the legal system become more effective in achieving its aims. This approach is heavily influenced by the “theralaw” and therapeutic jurisprudence traditions, which assert that the legal system should seek to promote the health and emotional well-being of individuals in addition to ensuring justice and social order (e.g., Wexler & Winick, 1996). This conceptualization is sometimes referred to as psycholegal, and it frequently embraces a multidisciplinary, systemic approach to addressing psychological issues within a legal context (e.g., Elwork, 1984).
Although each of these conceptualizations posits a discrete breed of psychologist whose job is to interact with the legal system, many kinds of mental health professionals may find themselves drawn into contact with the law. Former APA President Donald Bersoff (2008) once stated that “every psychologist—whether clinician, scientist, or academician—is a potential expert witness
and each must be prepared to interact with the legal system” (p. 454). These are what Otto and Heilbrun (2002) referred to as “accidental experts” (p. 15). Although forensic psychologists may be specially qualified to understand and work in the legal system, they cannot and should not claim the whole of forensic practice as their exclusive domain.

Educational and Training Opportunities in Forensic Psychology

Prior to discussing the current training opportunities in forensic psychology, we consider a question from Sageman (2003): What is specific about forensic psychology education? Attempts to answer this question have been at the root of the field’s efforts over the past 40 years to develop a system to train current and future forensic psychologists (Fenster, Litwack, & Symonds, 1975; Heilbrun & Brooks, 2010; Ogloff, Tomkins, & Bersoff, 1996). Before formal training programs were developed, any psychologist wishing to work in a forensic setting obtained specialized training “on the job.” Indeed, it is likely that a sizeable portion of forensic psychologists did not attend formal forensic training programs, given the relatively recent development of those programs (Krauss & Sales, 2014).
Since the introduction of the first forensic psychology training programs in the 1970s, however, there has been a significant expansion in the educational opportunities available to students (Burl et al., 2012; Ogloff et al., 1996). There have been many important steps throughout this period of growth. For example, the 1995 National Invitational Conference on Education and Training in Law and Psychology at Villanova University identified the state of forensic education at that time and set a direction for the future development of training in psychology and law (Bersoff et al., 1997). More recently, Heilbrun and Brooks (2010) utilized recommendations set by the National Research Council (2009) to propose further meaningful planning in forensic psychology training.1 Efforts to promote competent research and practice through formal training in forensic psychology have simultaneously occurred on an international level (Day & Tytler, 2012; Helmus, Babchishin, Camilleri, & Olver, 2011).
A variety of forces have shaped the current array of training options in forensic psychology. As discussed earlier, there is debate as to the scope of forensic practice, and different programs have therefore developed to meet these varied definitions. Some programs are developed or constrained by administrative limits, such as faculty lines (e.g., Krauss & Sales, 2014), while other programs are developed due to increased interest from students. Forensic psychology’s development as a fast-growing specialty area has been propelled by the increasing student demand for training in this field (Brigham, 1999). Popular areas of study include both clinical/applied work (i.e., forensic mental health assessments and forensic-based interventions, such as restoration to competence) and forensic research (clinical and nonclinical).
The many efforts to purposely shape training programs in forensic psychology, in concert with the many other variables that have affected this process, have resulted in a diverse number of training programs in forensic psychology. These educational opportunities range from undergraduate survey courses that examine the broad intersection of law and psychology to joint-degree graduate programs that allow students to obtain terminal degrees in both law (JD) and psychology (PhD, PsyD). Forensic psychology graduate programs, or programs that offer a forensic psychology track or concentration, currently exist at both the master’s and doctoral-level, and they offer a wide variety of educational and training opportunities in domains such as forensic assessment, specialized interventions, human development, legal policy, research, and program evaluation. In addition, opportunities for postdoctoral specialization in law and psychology are becoming increasingly more available and popular. Finally, anecdotal reports suggest that applications for admission to these forensic psychology training programs and tracks have increased considerably in recent years.
Despite this exceptional growth in educational and training opportunities for students and practitioners in forensic psychology, there is no consensus regarding the appropriate training models, curricula, and goals of these specialized training programs (see Bersoff et al., 1997, and Krauss & Sales, 2014, for descriptions of this debate). The field of forensic psychology continues to broaden in scope, encompassing a wide variety of knowledge and skills. Although forensic psychology training programs have increased in number, scope, and sophistication in recent years, important questions remain regarding the structure, focus, and goals of these programs.
The following sections discuss the educational and training opportunities available to students and practitioners in forensic psychology. As will be discussed, students and professionals in forensic psychology can now choose from a variety of educational and training experiences at several different levels. We also examine the diversity in training models employed in these various training programs, and consider whether current training models adequately prepare students to become forensic practitioners.

Educational, Training, and Credentialing Opportunities in Forensic Psychology

Over the past 40 years, the educational and training opportunities available to students and professionals interested in forensic psychology have increased considerably, and a variety of such opportunities currently exist at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdocto...


  1. Cover Page
  2. Halftitle Page
  3. Series Page
  4. Title Page
  5. Copyright Page
  6. Table of Contents
  7. About the Editors
  8. Contributors
  9. Preface
  10. Part I Professional and Practice Issues
  11. Part II Adult Forensic Assessment
  12. Part III Juvenile Forensic Assessment
  13. Part IV Civil Forensic Assessment
  14. Part V Communicating Your Findings
  15. Index
Zitierstile fĂŒr Learning Forensic Assessment

APA 6 Citation

[author missing]. (2015). Learning Forensic Assessment (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/1562601/learning-forensic-assessment-research-and-practice-pdf (Original work published 2015)

Chicago Citation

[author missing]. (2015) 2015. Learning Forensic Assessment. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis. https://www.perlego.com/book/1562601/learning-forensic-assessment-research-and-practice-pdf.

Harvard Citation

[author missing] (2015) Learning Forensic Assessment. 2nd edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1562601/learning-forensic-assessment-research-and-practice-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

[author missing]. Learning Forensic Assessment. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis, 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.