Practical Approaches to Forensic Mental Health Testimony

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A practical hands-on guide to testifying in court on mental health issues, this text offers a vital tool for the novice as well as the most seasoned practitioner. Prepared by two of the field's leading scholars and practitioners, this original work cuts through dense forensic mental health theory and addresses the actual, concrete approaches to ethical and effective testimony that experts need in court. Rich in multiple examples of courtroom dialogue, direct and cross examination, collaboration with attorneys, and the craft of effective testimony, this text describes the common pitfalls and various traps that experts so frequently encounter and tells you how to avoid them. Strategies and techniques are clearly illustrated and arm readers with exactly what they need to be successful in their testimony. This book is a must-read for anyone serious about excelling in court.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (Assurance Health and Wellness)
Description: This book attempts to address the practical realities of forensic work when a mental health professional is retained as an expert witness. It is written by two authors with a wealth of experience, and more importantly, expertise, and highlights many of the complex and challenging aspects of this field.
Purpose: While, as the authors acknowledge, theory plays a significant role in the medicolegal arena, the purpose of this book is to emphasize the practical aspects of the work and to provide readers with a more sound foundation upon which to build their understanding and experience.
Audience: Although geared primarily for those individuals early in their careers as forensic experts, this book can prove tremendously valuable to seasoned clinicians as well as trainees in the field.
Features: The first half of the book deals with experts functioning in the role of educators to the fact-finders, and the second half highlights more specific areas regarding relationships with attorneys and difficulties arising in the practice of forensic psychiatry and psychology. Each chapter contains rich, seemingly simple, but glaringly practical examples, often with quotes extracted from actual testimony. The chapters are well referenced, and each concludes with a brief, useful section titled "Summing Up."
Assessment: Many books have been penned addressing the subject of mental health professionals offering their expertise to the legal system, though few have been done so well and so humanly. The authors discuss the realities of the services provided by forensic experts, as well as the potential pitfalls one might encounter in gaining experience in the field. The value of this book is not only in its content, but in the honest and educational manner in which forensic work is displayed, allowing less experienced individuals to benefit from the hard lessons learned in the trenches by the well trained, well known, and highly competent authors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781772136
  • Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents


Presentation of Psychiatric/Psychological Expert Witness Testimony

The Question of Bias for Expert Witnesses

Cross Examination and Other Perils


Limits on Testimony

Narcissistic Obstacles to Objective Testimony

The Problem of Late Withdrawal

Paraforensic Issues


The Attorney-Expert Relationship

The Problem of Attorney Coaching

Empirical Studies of the Attorney-Expert Relationship


Special Problems for Experts

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