Patrick H. DeLeon, PhD, JD U.S. Senate Staff
The courtroom represents an exciting and highly challenging arena for most mental health professionals. It truly is uncharted territory, for which the majority of our colleagues possess very little formal training.
Thus, for the practicing clinician, an intimate appreciation for the inner workings of the court--its unique language, procedures, and expectations--is critical. Well-prepared and reasoned mental health experts can contribute significantly to the court's decision-making process. Conversely, those who do not appreciate the nuances of the judicial system, or who are unprepared, will soon feel its wrath--for, "fools are not suffered gladly." The judicial process--unlike the underlying tenants of the mental health field--is above all else, an adversarial one.
This practice-oriented handbook impressively accomplishes its objective of effectively assisting experienced practitioners from all of the mental health disciplines in understanding and contributing meaningfully to the court's deliberations. Its unique approach of providing specific examples of typical courtroom dialogues between attorneys and mental health professionals, including suggesting "effective" responses, represents a refreshing approach to continuing education. The extensive courtroom experience of the authors facilitates an appreciation for differentiating between meaningful versus insignificant issues. Foundations are laid, in both legal and psychological terms, explaining the different approaches taken by the law and the mental health field to such critical issues as confidentiality, the role of experts, and client-professional relationships.
Addressing the ever-feared classic courtroom confrontation--the rhetorical, "are you a real doctor?"--helpful tips are provided. Underlying issues addressed include cross-examination of testing results, determination of patient malingering, and maintaining one's professional credibility. Throughout, one clear message constantly comes through: the ultimate importance of being