Psychological assessment in forensic settings

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forensic assessment, legal contexts, psycholegal content analysis, psychological testing


This chapter provides an introduction to the field of forensic psychology. The chapter focuses on four general topics. First, the authors provide a definition of forensic psychology and a discussion of how it fits within clinical psychology. The authors argue that those psychologists who work in the field of forensic psychology must have specialized training and experience in the field. Second, the authors discuss the legal parameters within which forensic assessments are conducted. The authors note that the legal standards establish the parameters of the assessment and help focus the clinician's task. The authors introduce and discuss the psycholegal content analysis approach to forensic assessment. Next, the authors review some of the contemporary issues in forensic assessment, including the effect of the clinical versus actuarial debate for the field, the development of the legally informed practitioner model, the roles and limits of general psychological testing in forensic contexts, legal specificity, and training in forensic psychology. Finally, the authors discuss some future concerns that should be addressed in the field. In particular, they raise concerns about quality control in forensic assessment and identify areas that require further development (i.e., civil forensic assessment, forensic assessments with youth, women, and visible minorities).