Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations

Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations

by Leslie Drozd, James R. Flens
     
 

A focused look at the uses—and misuses—of psychological tests in the context of child custody

This book presents an advanced examination of psychological testing and usage in the child custody arena. It addresses test selection issues, provides insightful discussions of how to confront confirmatory biases and avoid the distortion of test findings, and

Overview

A focused look at the uses—and misuses—of psychological tests in the context of child custody

This book presents an advanced examination of psychological testing and usage in the child custody arena. It addresses test selection issues, provides insightful discussions of how to confront confirmatory biases and avoid the distortion of test findings, and presents clear instructions for the use of specific tests, including MMPI-2 and Rorschach, and a point/counterpoint discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the Ackerman-Schoendorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody (ASPECT).

Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations can be viewed as a work in three parts. The first section addresses theoretical and test usage issues, with chapters focusing on:

  • addressing test selection issues from legal and psychological perspectives
  • bias issues that interfere with the evaluator’s ability to collect and consider data objectively
  • a functional, comprehensive approach to the use of psychological tests in a child custody evaluation—with a conceptual framework for choosing assessment techniques to assess parenting competencies and other variables important in forming opinions about custodial placement and visitation access, and a practical example of how to present psychological test data in an advisory report to the court
  • a look at psychological testing from an attorney’s point of view
The second section of Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations focuses on the MMPI-2 and the Rorschach Inkblot Test in the child custody context, investigating hypotheses that can be inferred from the MMPI-2 regarding parenting behaviors, and the use and value of the Rorschach. This section examines:
  • the foundation from which the MMPI-2 can generate expectations regarding five basic issues—the quality of attachment and bonding, potential for antisocial behavior, temper control, alienation of affection, and chemical abuse and dependence
  • the range of variables that will generate useful hypotheses regarding parent-child interactions and family systems
  • the effects of the circumstances of litigation on score elevations—including recommended limits as to how much elevation can be dismissed as only contextual
  • the important differences between occasion validity and attribute validity
  • the clinical application of an objective interpretation system, including the courtroom credibility of explicit convergent validity
  • the use of the Rorschach in child custody evaluations
  • findings from a study using the Rorschach to address specific parenting variables
The third section of Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations is a focused point-counterpoint discussion of ASPECT, between test creator Marc J. Ackerman and Mary Connell, President of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. This book is essential reading for child custody evaluators, family law attorneys, and judges practicing in the family law arena, as well as educators and students in these fields.

Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, PsyD (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes psychological testing in reference to child custody evaluations. Both theoretical foundation and actual test usage are given fair discussion. It concludes with a point-counterpoint of the Ackerman-Schoendorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody (ASPECT). "Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations has been co-published simultaneously as Journal of Child Custody, Volume 2, Numbers 1/2 2005" (introductory page, unnumbered).
Purpose: According to the editors, the purpose is as follows: "This volume addresses the subject of testing. The articles can be divided into three sections. The first section concerns theoretical and test usage issues. ...The articles in the second section of this volume focus on the use of the MMPI-2 and the Rorschach Inkblot Test in the child custody context. ...The third section presents a point-counterpoint discussion of The Ackerman-Schoendorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody (ASPECT). ...This volume is not exhaustive or representative of the use of psychological testing in child custody evaluations which would involve dozens of authors writing hundreds, if not thousands, of pages to address the myriad issues associated with psychological testing in a child custody evaluation. Future special issues of the Journal of Child Custody may address not only these issues, but other complex issues associated with the methods and procedures used in child custody evaluations" (pp. 1-2). Those are worthy objectives. The book met the editors' objectives.
Audience: The editors do not really say who the target audience is. In my judgment, the book is written for forensic psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, and others involved in forensic matters. Students who aspire to do forensic work will benefit greatly also. The editors and contributors are credible authorities in the subject matter of the book.
Features: This book is divided into three parts: A. theory and psychometric principles B. using the MMPI-2 and Rorschach Inkblot Test in child custody evaluations C. point-counterpoint of ASPECT (The Ackerman-Schoendorf Scales for Parent Evaluation of Custody) This book is straight-forward, easy to read, and really covers the ground it should. I really enjoyed the chapter titled: "The Responsible Use of Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations: Selection of Tests" by James Flen because he writes so well and sets the stage for understanding the legal issues inherent to forensic hearings such as FRE (Federal Rules of Evidence) and the Frye and Daubert rulings over the years. The Rorschach chapters are interesting to learn how the data it produces relates to the question of child custody. There are no obvious shortcomings of the book. However, I would have liked to have seen clinical vignettes.
Assessment: I enjoyed this volume. It covers the ground you expect and it is written by individuals who have extensive experience in the forensic process. However, it really only covers three psychological tests: MMPI-2, Rorschach Inkblot Test, and the ASPECT. In addition, the authors do not provide clinical examples which could help to illuminate the concepts. For those individuals with no experience in the field of child custody, this is a valuable resource. More seasoned veterans may want a more comprehensive text.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780789029720
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
10/28/2005
Pages:
238
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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