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Preparing Psychological Reports for Court

Psychological evaluation and consulting services intended to assist the courts in determining decisions regarding family, civil, or criminal matters, require a detailed, situation-specific assessment strategy which goes beyond the typical psychological evaluation completed for clinical purposes:

After completing a forensic evaluation, psychologists should be able to logically defend their conclusions, using explanations which are understandable to non-psychologists. Psychological experts must be able to explain complex psychological issues to non-psychologists, whether it be to a judge or to a jury, as the finder of fact. The issues should be presented in clear and simple language. The conclusions and recommendations of the expert should assist the fact finder in reaching a decision, and should not add confusion to that process.

For these reasons, psychologists who complete forensic evaluations should have a broad clinical background, excellent assessment skills, superior communication skills, and experience in completing psychological evaluations in a legal setting.

Psychologists should evaluate the facts of the case, and  render an opinion regarding the psychological issues present. Psychologists should not offer opinions outside their area of professional competence. Psychologists are expected to function as experts within the limitations of their profession, and must recognize and identify those limitations as part of their work as experts.