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From The CriticsReviewer: Louis J. Kraus, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This comprehensive book on child and adolescent forensic psychiatry is an update of Principles and Practice of Child and Adolescent Forensic Mental Health, Schetky and Benedek (American Psychiatric Publishing, 2002). With many rewritten and new chapters, the book covers a wide range of child and adolescent forensic mental health topics, including the basics of forensic psychiatry, legal regulation of practice, child custody, child abuse, youth violence, juvenile offenders, and civil mental health litigation.
Purpose: It is intended as a resource for both clinicians and forensic experts who deal with children and adolescents, such as psychologists, social workers, psychiatrist, mental health clinicians, attorneys, and judges. The book has been expanded to include new topics such as forensic telepsychiatry, cultural competence, and forensic issues on the Internet, as well as new information on a variety of topics from the previous edition.
Audience: It is a challenge to write a book to meet the needs of such a wide variety of professionals, but the authors are successful. The chapters typically begin with a brief description of the topic, followed by comprehensive explanations. A broad range of annotative references help readers gain a more specific understanding of a topic. This is a very well written book edited by leaders in their field. The contributors include experts with international reputations as well as private practitioners and residents.
Features: Introductory chapters cover key general issues important to child and adolescent forensic psychiatrists, including a general introduction to the legal system, ethical issues, and testifying in court. The major pertinent issues in child and adolescent forensic mental health are covered including treatment issues such as disability, child custody, child abuse, juvenile delinquency, and civil litigation. The sections that provide an overview of juvenile offenders and civil litigation are particularly helpful. Chapters dealing with child custody and child abuse are areas that have been previously reviewed, but each chapter addresses somewhat newer areas. For example, issues of child custody also touch on transcultural, transracial, and gay and lesbian parenting and adoption. In addition to chapters on physical and sexual abuse, there is also a chapter on Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or factitious disorder by proxy, which provides a well rounded understanding of the clinical issue while attempting to explain the lack of a definitive DSM-IV diagnosis. The clinical vignettes in this chapter and others are particularly helpful. In addition to many of the typical areas covered in forensic books, this one also covers special education evaluations, which includes an explanation of special education law and the process of special education assessments and meetings. The format of the chapters varies. Most commonly, they start with either case vignettes or definitions before going into the details of the assessment, pertinent case law, and references. References offered primary and secondary publications and case law, both state and federal.
Assessment: In general, the book does a tremendous job of summarizing the current literature, reviewing pertinent case law, and then applying this to the topics. The editors have tremendous expertise in child and adolescent forensic psychiatry, yet there is very little description of their own personal opinions on key issues, including areas of future growth and understanding, areas needing reform, and a clear understanding of areas of conflict and concern. However, this may be the most comprehensive and up-to-date book on child and adolescent forensic mental health. With the many changes in the juvenile justice system and other areas of child and adolescent forensic mental health, it is certainly worthwhile to replace the first edition.