Lepage Associates Newsletter
Mental Health Matters
Special Forensic Edition 
October 2008
Lepage Associates
 
Call: (919) 572-0000
 
In This Issue
Groups
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What Is Forensic Psychology?
Forensic Evaluations
Psychologists and Divorce
Groups 
 
 
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
 
What is PTSD and what does it have to do with my case?
 
Traumatic events can include, but are not limited to, military combat, violent personal assault (rape, domestic violence, child abuse), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, natural or manmade disasters, severe automobile accidents, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
 
It can result in substance use, depression, and anxiety.
 
Trauma can complicate any legal case. Your client may have difficulty participating in the legal process and require therapy. The event precipitating legal action may be the cause of the trauma and need to be considered in a settlement case. PTSD can also be malingered.
 
If you are able to recognize the symptoms of PTSD, you can obtain an expert to help argue a stronger case for your client.
 
Please visit our website for the full article.

www.lepageassociates.com

Monthly Reader
 
Each month we will recommend a book that someone at our practice has found useful. This month's book is:
 
Divorce Wars: Interventions with Families in Conflict
by Elizabeth Ellis
 
For other reading suggestions check out our resources page.
 

Other Helpful Information

October is
 
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
 
and 
 
National
Chiropractic Month 
 
 

Meet Our Forensic Psychologists
 
Click here for our 
 

Greetings!

People are often confused about how psychology and the law intersect. Included in this issues are a few ideas about how psychologists can help in these situations.
 
Take a few minutes to check out our new website.  We've greatly expanded our resources, group, and psychological evaluation pages. We've added a new forensic page as well as a new premarital counseling page. Let us know what you think!
 
www.lepageassociates.com 

What is Forensic Psychology?

Almost every area of psychology is relevant to some aspect of the law. For example, developmental psychology affects the study of the effects of divorce on children. Social psychology affects the influence of group think on terrorism laws. Clinical psychology influences the prediction of dangerousness in the mentally ill. Cognitive psychology influences the study of the reliability of memory in eyewitness testimony. Psychology and the law have a long history dating back to the early 1900's. However, the goals of the criminal justice system and psychology are fairly divergent. 

The goal of psychology is to provide a full and accurate explanation of human behavior while the goal of the criminal justice system or law is to regulate human behavior. Criminal justice depends on precedents while psychology believes our current understanding of human behavior should be revised in light of new data. Lawyers advocate for a particular view; psychologists remain objective and focus on what the data show. Given these differing objectives, one might wonder why psychology and the criminal justice system should merge. These two disciplines overlap simply because the criminal justice system shapes people and there are many inescapably psychological issues in the legal system. Such issues are generally studied by those who practice forensic psychology. Forensic psychology includes research that examines aspects of human behavior directly related to legal processes. It is the professional practice of psychology within or in consultation with a legal system that encompasses family, criminal, and civil law. Forensic psychologists also may be asked to testify as experts on a variety of topics such as mental health diagnosis, treatment efficacy, and the impact of trauma on an individual. Most forensic psychologists are clinical psychologists who receive continuing education and training in forensic psychology.
 
For more information on the forensic services provided by Lepage Associates please click here.

Psychological Forensic Evaluations

What is the difference between a clinical psychological evaluation and a forensic evaluation?
 
How do you pick the right expert for your evaluation?
 
Knowing when and how to obtain a forensic evaluation - which typically goes beyond the scope of a basic clinical interview - could make or break your case.
 
Following are several things you should look for in a forensic evaluation:
 
1. In all evaluations, psychologists complete a clinical interview with the client. Some psychologists stop here, and while a clinical interview is certainly better than no evaluation, it is not the most thorough method of assessment as it is purely self-report.
 
2. It is more helpful to use psychological testing so that the bulk of information is not based on the client's self-report. Many psychologists administer psychological instruments such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), which is an objective measure of personality and major categories of psychopathology. The MMPI-2 is widely used because it is well known to be a reliable, valid test. It also has a Lie Scale to help determine if someone is trying to form a favorable impression or mislead the examiner regarding severity of illness. However, though better than an interview only, this test is, again, based on the client's self-report.
 
3. It is therefore recommended that multiple tests be completed. A full battery should look at the client's cognitive, emotional, and personality functioning. A battery gives added weight to your argument that the client was fully evaluated. (Tests that are specific to the situation are described in the full article.) This may be where some psychologists end their evaluation.
 
4. However, a full battery could still be a clinical evaluation and not a forensic evaluation. According to the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, a full forensic evaluation includes actively seeking information from more than one source that would differentially test plausible rival hypotheses. This means psychologists need to actively seek prior records. They also need to talk to people who know the client, to assess both pre- and post-functioning. These collateral contacts are not only family members with a vested interest in the client, but also professionals or disinterested parties who will provide impartial accounts of the client.  
 
Please click here for the full article which describes evaluations such as competency to stand trial and malingering.
The Role of Our Psychologists in
Separation & Divorce:
Ways We Can Help
 
The issues in separation and divorce are complex, and individuals separating and divorcing have been seeking the help of psychologists during this process for some time, often at the suggestion of their attorneys. Psychologists can be:
 
1. Communication consultants when parents are preparing for legal meetings and when they need help identifying your needs and interests in the case. We help people identify their possible triggers, and prepare for emotional reactions and how to deal with them in the moment.
 
2. Child specialists when parents are preparing to tell their children about the decision to separate or divorce. When children need help to have a voice in the process, we can assess the child's needs and concerns.
 
3. Co-parenting consultants when parents are working to develop an amicable co-parenting relationship. With our expertise in parenting, families, divorce, and conflict resolution, we help people develop a positive, cooperative, low-conflict shared parenting relationship.

4. Parenting plan experts can be very helpful to decide what might be the best parenting plan for their child. When discussing options move slowly or gets stuck we can help parents talk and listen in a way that they are able to negotiate effectively.

5. A support person or therapist to help parents ease emotional pain, gain insight in to the past and/or present, learn skills to prevent similar problems from occurring again, regain happiness, and feel good about and be prepared for the future. Child psychologists can offer play therapy to children and supportive therapy to teenagers to diminish any emotional pain they may be feeling, and develop coping skills to move through the divorce process with less distress.

To read the full article please visit our website.