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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: Part of the Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series, this book covers the evaluation process involved in order to determine whether a personal injury claim is legitimate, especially when psychological harm is claimed.
Purpose: The book covers "the foundational tort law under which such evaluations are conducted, the particular duties of the forensic evaluator, and the supporting scientific evidence," and provides "step-by-step guidance, from the first contact with the attorney to the completion of all evaluative tasks (including possible expert testimony), in the assessment of personal injury claims."
Audience: The series editors note that, "although this series focuses mainly on evaluations conducted by psychologists and psychiatrists, the fundamentals and principles offered also apply to evaluations conducted by clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and other mental health professionals." Andrew W. Kane, a clinical and forensic psychologist, is a diplomate of the American Board of Assessment Psychologists, and Joel A. Dvoskin, a clinical psychologist, is a diplomate in forensic psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Features: The book begins by detailing legal and mental health assessment concepts, as well as general principles. Next, it describes preparation for the evaluation, including the relationship with the attorney and ethical issues, especially confidentiality and the Tarasoff Rule. It continues with data collection including gathering medical records and other pertinent data, and with conducting psychological testing. The book emphasizes the importance of assessing personality style and ruling out malingering. One of the most important steps in the process is the interpretation, "to identify trends in the data, and to resolve any inconsistencies identified." Finally, the book details report writing and testimony. The authors note that it is easier to testify about a well-done, comprehensive report. Three appendixes have standard forms that can be modified to fit a specific provider: a) a service contract, b) release of information, and c) request for collateral interviews. Other features include case law, info, best practice, and beware boxes at the side of the pages to emphasize and clarify key points.
Assessment: This excellent book is not exhaustive, but it provides important information, especially for clinicians who are learning how to conduct these evaluations. The authors are experts in the field and the book is easy to read.