What is a Psychological Forensic Assessment?
Psychology and the law are two separate disciplines that in spite of sharing a common interest in human behaviour, do not share similar conventions or standards. Both sciences are aware that human behaviour, by its own nature is varied and therefore diverse thoughts, beliefs and expectations have to be taken into consideration when making considerations that might affect a person’s future or the safety of our society. Also psychologists and lawyers often focus on matters that not tangible or unchanging (e.g. risk to recidivate, need for treatment intervention, risk to society), which are the results of an estimation of theoretical constructs which in turn are in constant flux.
A psychological forensic assessment attempts to bridge the gap between these two human disciplines by providing the court, the defense counsel and the crown with a “state of the art” snapshot of an individual’s state of mind at the time of the charges , what this person may need to reduce his or her chances of future involvement in the legal system, his or her propensity for deviant behaviours, and the need for treatment and intervention this person may present to make our society a safer and more humane place to live.
People referred for a psychological forensic assessment are often already involved in the legal system. These can be men, women or young offenders with many different charges covering the gamut of the criminal code: addiction problems, dual diagnosis, anger management issues, abuse, fraud or people charged with sex related offences. Often people undergoing a legal ordeal are in need of psychotherapy to cope with their current situation, the public disgrace related to being involved in the legal system and anxiety about their own future.
What to expect
A psychological forensic assessment generally takes a full working day. What procedures are utilized is determined by the referral reasons (why the person is involved in the legal system) and by what needs emerge during the assessment itself. A psychological forensic assessment generally involves a review of the material relevant to the case, psychological testing (personality, social skills, intelligence, deviant or aberrant past behaviours or tendencies, risk to recidivate, risk for violence, risk for spousal violence, risk for sexual violence), and an interview with the referred client and often with a family member or a person close to the client.
What our office charges for a full psychological forensic assessment is quite competitive. Further fees are necessary for court appearances. Please check with your insurance (private or work) what is your coverage for psychological services. Legal Aid is also accepted by our office.
How a Forensic Assessment can help
A psychological forensic assessment can provide useful information to the people involved in a criminal matter at all stages of the legal process; from the bail hearing stage to the community supervision period following a period of incarceration. Question of diagnostic discrimination, deviant behaviours or tendencies, addiction or compulsive character traits, risk for violence, need for treatment and intervention are generally issues addressed in these assessments. The risk of future involvement in the legal system is likely the most common question addressed in a psychological forensic assessment.
If you have any questions regarding our services, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-516-7757.