Forensic Psychologists in Palm Beach County & What to know before you retain!

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Education & Licensing
It isn’t uncommon for other professionals to become somewhat confused with the different types of mental health professionals today. What you should know is that, when it comes to the court system, the professional that generally has the largest scope of practice and are generally considered to be the authority in the mental health and forensic arenas are Psychologists. Psychologists, not to be confused with psychiatrists (who are medical doctors), are individuals who have attained a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) and also maintain the highest level of licensing in their state. In the state of Florida, a licensed clinical psychologist is the highest level (and authority) of licensing and education in the field of psychology. Because of their high level of education, forensic psychologists can take on a number of roles in the court room and behind the scenes such as an expert witness, a work product reviewer, or simply a source of general knowledge testimony. Psychologists are also administer psychological tests to individuals to measure or test for mental health deficiencies in situations such as child custody hearings, competency, or guardianship.

In Palm Beach County alone, there are many psychologists to choose from, but only a hand full are well-experienced in the specialty area of forensic psychology. Experienced forensic psychologists are difficult to come by because of the level of knowledge, research, and experience required to practice competently. Forensic psychologists can play a number of roles in the court room and behind the scenes, each having specific ethical standards and guidelines that must be followed. For this reason, the forensic psychologist you choose should be able to fully explain each role and its purpose. Having a solid base of knowledge and experience also means that the forensic psychologist continues their education by attending relevant conferences or seminars.

Professional Affiliations
Another key trait of an excellent forensic psychologist is their professional affiliations to major entities such as American Psychological Association (APA). When a forensic psychologist is member of associations like the APA or the Association of Family Court Conciliation (AFCC) it is a strong indicator that they are up to date on their standards and protocols and attending monthly to annual conferences to continue their education in the field. So, when you’re interviewing a forensic psychologist, don’t be afraid to ask what associations they are members of or what professional affiliations they have!

Sample Reports
When you’re hiring a forensic psychologist to help your case, more than likely they will be required to write a report to put forth their recommendations to the judge and court. For this reason, many attorneys will ask for a sample report to review their writing skills, style, and the level of competence. Depending on the kind of case you have, a report may not be needed, but it can still be a good idea to ask for one, as it may illustrate the quality of the clinician’s work.

Court Room Manners
If you’re hiring a forensic psychologist to testify in court, the professional should be well versed in court room manners, verbiage, and etiquette. Carrying yourself professionally in a court requires a significant amount of knowledge and experience. there is more to retaining a forensic psychologist, than many believe, which is a process a forensic psychologist should be able to explain before being retained. An inexperienced expert witness who is not familiar with a courtroom may, for example, interrupt a judge while they are speaking or may not prepare for specific questions appropriately. Knowledge of the court protocols and their functions are necessities. Just keep in mind, however, that forensic psychologists are not legal counsel and cannot provide legal advice!

Palm Beach Laws, Florida Laws, and International Laws
It is also very important for the forensic psychologist to be knowledgeable of Florida state laws and statutes as well as local laws for Palm Beach County. This makes providing consultation to an attorney much easier for both the attorney and the forensic psychologist. Many psychologists, like our own, have been retained in cases from the Bahamas to New York, which means knowledge of international laws are also very important. This is especially true for interstate and international relocation cases, when such laws com into play.

Date: December 17th, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized | By: | Comments: 0

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