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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes how to evaluate allegations of child sexual abuse, covering both assessment and court testimony and providing specific interview techniques.
Purpose: Recognizing that "the evaluation of children suspected of having been sexually abused is one of the most challenging endeavors in clinical and forensic practice," the editors set out to "assist the mental health evaluator facing the challenges of these assessments," by compiling "a collection of chapters that reflect current knowledge in the field."
Audience: The target audience includes "all mental health professionals working to protect children." Kathryn Kuehnle, research assistant professor at the University of South Florida, is a specialist in the evaluation and treatment of child abuse. Mary Connell is a certified forensic psychologist. The contributors represent the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
Features: The introduction focuses on the McMartin preschool case. The book then details how to use research to accurately identify sexually abused children and spends some time in understanding normative sexual and nonsexual behaviors. One of the most important parts of the book looks at the forensic interview itself and various assessment techniques. The book ends with a description of the role of the mental health professional in court, especially in educating the judge and jury about the whole assessment process, including suggestibility and/or unintentional false reports. The book uses numerous tables and figures to help illuminate the material. At the end of each chapter, there is a box of guidelines, which sums up the most important points of the chapter. An appendix sets out an investigative interview protocol (15 pages) for police interrogators from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). There is both an author and a subject index. The chapter on normative memory development and the child witness explores the development of memory and unwarranted assumptions regarding children's testimony.
Assessment: This excellent book integrates research with clinical practice as it teaches mental health professionals the most salient concepts in order to avoid using faulty interview techniques. New clinicians in the field will benefit from the wisdom presented here. This practical book should be in the library of every forensic professional.