Forensic Psychology Discussion
I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the St. Joseph County Bar Association in Three Rivers, Michigan on March 15, 2011. The invitation came from Attorney Fred Taylor.
The discussion included various topics in the profession of psychology and how psychology might be helpful to courts generally and to attorneys specifically.
We discussed the importance of training in assessment psychology, especially if a psychologist wants to work in the legal system. One example is that under Michigan law, psychologists need only one testing course to be licensed. A psychologist should have further training than the basic minimal requirement.
Additionally, the psychologist should clearly understand what is required, for example, when an attorney is making a referral for an assessment. The psychologist needs to understand the legal issue involved. When accepting a referral for a competency evaluation for a juvenile defendant, the psychologist should be familiar with the criteria for competency according the law and address the referral question thoroughly.
We also discussed the interface of mental health and substance abuse. A very good website to explore this area is http://www.samhsa.gov.
We discussed other topics as well. This was a very informal, collegial meeting and I enjoyed the discussion very much.