From their daily clinical work in therapy and counseling, mental health professionals are known to be skilled communicators and verbally facile in responding to the full array of personal interactions. Thus, the possibility of being unable to explain their ideas and struggling to articulate their thoughts is anathema to clinicians. No wonder the prospect of testifying in a courtroom has a chilling effect on these practitioners.
It is common knowledge that clinicians in the courtroom experience high levels of apprehension because they are not prepared to cope with aggressive questioning in an unfamiliar arena. We believe that with some familiarity with forensic testifying, the practitioner can learn to respond in a highly effective manner, thus enabling him or her to contribute substantially to the court's fuller understanding of the relevant mental health issues in the case.
This volume is designed to serve as a practical handbook that assists practitioners from all mental health disciplines. It is unique with its emphasis on the typical courtroom dialogue between attorneys and mental health professionals who are either testifying about their psychotherapy clients or who are hired by attorneys specifically to provide expert opinions. With our extensive experience in the courtroom, we offer well thought-out effective responses as contrasted with impulsive and weak answers to attorney's queries. Sample cases are employed to illustrate typical challenges in various legal areas, including criminal law, child custody hearings, and personal injury cases. Certain forensic issues, such as the scientific bases of expert opinions, the accuracy of psychological versus medical tests, and malingering, are emphasized throughout the chapters.
The book is based on the belief that exposure to courtroom dialogue enhances the awareness of appropriate professional responses to an attorney's cross-examination and greatly alleviates the fears toward a situation that is known to provoke intense levels of anxiety. We realize that graduate schools and medical programs offer minimal training in forensic testimony, and we believe this book fills an invaluable educational need for mental health professionals.