Getting Started in Forensic Psychology Practice: How to Create a Forensic Specialty in Your Mental Health Practice

Article excerpt

Getting Started in Forensic Psychology Practice: How to Create a Forensic Specialty in Your Mental Health Practice, by Eric Mart (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006), 350 pp., $29.95.

The number of Americans receiving institutional psychiatric care has decreased by the hundreds of thousands since deinstitutionalization in the 1960s. However, according to the President's New Freedom Commission, the community mental health system's inability to care for those released has led to rising incarceration of the mentally ill (Human Rights Watch, 2003). This has increased psychologists' involvement with courts, jails, and prisons, which have surpassed the Veterans Administration system as the largest employers of psychologists. These changes have led psychologists into increased contact with the legal system-that is, into forensic psychology practice.

In part, psychologists have taken these forensic opportunities because of economic forces in the profession, such as decreased reimbursement offered by managed care (Altman, 1987). Over the years, an increasing number of specialty indicators or affiliations have developed. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), since their beginnings as the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology in 1947, has increased from three to eleven recognized areas of specialization, one of which is forensic psychology (Bent. Goldberg & Packard, 1999). The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes the forensic specialty and has a division for forensic practitioners (41, American Psychology-Law Society). However, the APA has yet to produce recommended training or credentialing guidelines for forensic psychologists, thus leaving unclear the route to become a forensic psychologist.

Eric Mart, an ABPP diplomate in forensic psychology and internationally known expert on Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, has done an excellent job clearing the route to forensic practice in a simple "how to" format in his book Getting Started in Forensic Psychology Practice. He details various approaches to forensic specialization (e.g., clinic, group, or hospital based practice) and resources for forensic specific workshops and trainings. Furthermore, Mart includes a boiled down version of the American Board of Forensic Psychology's reading list, and cites additional titles relevant to various niche areas in forensic practice (for example, competency, child custody, and sexual offender evaluation).

In the context of risk management. Mart provides best practice, nuts and bolts approach to forensic work by unpacking the APA Ethics Code and the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists disseminated by division 41. He provides "how to" instruction on informed consent, record keeping, fees, and assessment methods as directed by the Ethics Code and Specialty Guidelines.

Mart's comprehensiveness and attention to detail, even concerning mundane aspects of forensic practice (e. …