Archive for February, 2012

Establishing a forensic psychology practice: What steps do you take to become an effective forensic psychologist?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Let’s assume that you’ve been trained in psychology, and that you’re now considering the possibility of offering expert opinion in the legal arena, either full-time or as a supplement to your other work. What do you need to get started? Do you simply begin to offer your services?


What is it like to practice as a forensic psychologist?

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Before setting out on a path to develop a forensic practice, it’s natural and reasonable to ask: What will my life be like, once my practice is established?

In the absence of survey data, I cannot say how all or even most forensic psychologists would answer this question. I can offer my own perspective, however. That is, I can say what it’s been like for me over the course of 30-plus years as a forensic psychologist.  I’ve listed below the points that stand out for me: (more…)

How much do forensic psychologists earn?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I’ve been asked more than once how much a forensic psychologist can expect to earn. That is, what is the typical or average annual income of a forensic psychologist?

This is not an unreasonable question. It would be prudent for anyone who is considering a forensic practice to ask what one might expect to earn in this line of work. (more…)

What are the qualities of a good forensic psychologist?

Friday, February 17th, 2012

A young woman who was working on a high school assignment recently contacted me to ask questions about forensic psychology. She asked several thoughtful questions, including this one: What are the qualities of a good forensic psychologist?

In the course of my 30-year career as a forensic psychologist, I have encountered enough forensic psychologists to give me an idea about the qualities that distinguish the best from all the others. Four qualities stand out, in my opinion.


A short step from psychotherapist to forensic expert?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Question: Is the work of a forensic psychologist far removed from the work of the psychotherapist? Answer: It depends what kind of forensic practice you have in mind. If you were to ask laypeople — and perhaps many psychologists — what forensic psychologists do, I think it’s safe to say that most of the responses probably would be related to the criminal justice system: (more…)

Forensic assessment of PTSD and reliance on psychological tests of malingering in military veterans

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Can forensic experts properly rely on psychological tests to determine that a military veteran’s reported PTSD symptoms are due to malingering? (more…)

Frye vs. Daubert: Should it matter to the forensic psychologist?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

From a practical standpoint it shouldn’t matter to a competent forensic psychologist whether the judge applies the Frye standard or the Daubert standard when deciding whether to allow the expert’s testimony. Regardless of the standard applied by the judge, forensic psychologists who adhere to the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology should offer testimony that is scientifically reliable. The Guidelines state: (more…)

What opinions can the treating psychologist safely offer in the courtroom?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Lawyers representing a client who is suing for psychological injury often try to persuade the client’s treating therapist to offer a wide range of opinions related to the case. In effect, an effort may be made to persuade the therapist to serve not only as the treatment provider, but also as the forensic expert. (more…)

The repressed memory debate among psychologists isn’t over yet

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Although the “repressed memory” issue was once a very lively topic of debate among psychologists, forensic and otherwise, it appears to have fallen off the front page. The issue has been revived in a case now before the Supreme Court of Minnesota.


How a psychological expert can avoid being excluded for conflict of interest or for unfair advantage

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

A trial judge in Salem, Oregon, recently granted a murder defendant’s motion to bar the prosecution from using a forensic expert retained to rebut the defendant’s assertion of insanity. Why? According to the Salem News, the expert, Dr. Martin Kelly, was at the same time also providing forensic services for the defendant’s attorney in an unrelated case. As a result, defendant’s attorney argued there was a conflict of interest, and that unless Martin was barred from testifying, he (the attorney) would have to withdraw.