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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
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.