Forensic assessment instruments and techniques


Randy K. Otto

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Assessment and evaluation is a key component of the identity and practice of clinical psychologists. The majority of assessment activity in which psychologists engage is best described as therapeutic assessment—psychological evaluation that is conducted to facilitate or inform decision making about treatment and other types of interventions. In contrast, forensic assessment is conducted during or in anticipation of litigation, for the purpose of providing legal decision makers or others with information about aspects of the examinee's psychological functioning that are relevant to some issue that is in dispute. Many commentators, when discussing this issue, distinguish between “clinical assessment” and “forensic assessment” (or between clinical activities and forensic activities). Such terminology is potentially misleading, however, insofar as all forensic assessment is clinical in nature, and it is psychologists' clinical expertise that leads to the court to seek input and opinions from them.