Forensic psychology is the interaction of the law and psychology. This can include providing assessment and therapeutic services. Therapy typically involves providing services to individuals who are court-ordered for therapy. Assessment work includes evaluations for the court systems.
Forensic psychologists conduct psychological evaluations based on referrals from attorneys and the courts system. When completing an evaluation, the focus is on the referral question. For example, does the defendant adequately understand the legal process so to properly aid in his or her defense? At the time of the crime, was the defendant suffering from a mental illness that impeded his or her decision-making abilities? Can a defendant’s symptoms of his or her mental illness or life circumstances act as potential mitigating factors? Has a past incident caused long-term trauma to the individual? These referral questions will determine the kind of evaluation that a psychologist will conduct with a defendant.
Another common question asked within the legal system involves assessing an individual’s risk level. With the adolescent or child populations, this question may be raised by the school system resulting from an incident on school property. This has become especially relevant in today’s society with the increasing emergence of school violence. These risk assessments with this population can be helpful in providing not only risk assessments for the school but also treatment recommendations and behavioral plans for the student. Alternatively, risk assessments for adults can be helpful in court proceedings involving court-ordered therapy, discharge planning or for sentencing purposes.
Our practice provides competency assessments, sanity evaluations, risk assessments, downward departures, psychosexual assessments and psychological evaluations. We also work on civil cases, specializing in trauma. The purpose of these evaluations is to provide an encompassing psychological assessment of the individual. In doing so, the psychologist is able to paint an accurate portrait of this person’s clinical presentation and provide appropriate recommendations based on the referral question.