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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book discusses how the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002) applies to forensic psychological work. Every aspect of the decision-making process is discussed and analyzed via case examples.
Purpose: In the preface, the authors state: "Our primary reason for writing this book was to bring together many of the key ethical concepts and resources that we have found valuable and to apply them to forensic psychology." Later, in the introduction, they continue: "We believe that psychologists involved in forensic practice activities require two things to avoid or negotiate ethical misconduct: (a) a personal commitment to maintaining the highest standards of ethical practice and (b) the information and tools needed to achieve and maintain ethical practice. This book is intended to contribute to the second of the two; that is, to be a source of information and provide some of the tools needed to achieve and maintain ethical practice. Although the wide variety of potential forensic activities for psychologists prohibits exhaustive coverage of issues and practices, we hope that readers will find the book beneficial for enhancing sensitivity to ethical concerns and problem-solving strategies." The book meets the authors' objectives.
Audience: According to the authors, the book "is designed to help prepare career forensic psychologists, forensic psychology students and trainees, and clinical practitioners who inadvertently become involved in forensic matters to successfully avoid and negotiate ethical challenges." They note that it is "intended to serve as a text for forensic psychology students, trainees, and practitioners and as a reference guide for all psychologists anticipating involvement in, or unexpectedly thrust into, a legal matter." The authors are all board certified and have authored or coauthored books and/or articles in neuropsychology and/or forensic psychology.
Features: The book begins with an overview and then discusses every aspect of ethical decision-making and forensic work, including the referral, collection and review of information, the evaluation, documentation of findings and opinion, testimony and termination. These chapters include case examples, which are wonderful teaching tools that elucidate the concepts. The analysis of the case material is broken down in these steps: identify the problem, consider the significance of the context and setting, identify and use ethical and legal resources, consider personal beliefs and values, develop possible solutions, consider the potential consequences of various solutions, choose and implement a course of action, and assess the outcome and implement changes as needed. This analysis is invaluable. The important points of the case come alive in this format, which is like sitting under the tutelage of a supervisor, who carefully explains the critical factors of an issue. The appendix contains the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, which the book often refers to. The book ends on a warning to the wise: "Forensic psychologists bear a considerable responsibility to individuals, institutions, and society. Once a commitment to maintaining the highest ethical standards has been affirmed, written and collegial resources can help psychologists negotiate the unique details of a given ethical challenge. The practice of forensic psychology can be both challenging and rewarding; perhaps the greatest challenge is in keeping one's values in perspective."
Assessment: This is a wonderful teaching tool for all individuals involved in forensic work. However, psychologists and graduate students involved in any specialty field of psychology can learn valuable lessons, i.e. applying the Ethics Code to difficult situations. This book is practical and easy to read. It should be "must" reading for graduate students in professional development and/or ethics classes. In fact, it should be read on a yearly basis so that you never forget the importance of standing on the highest ethical ground possible.