Fundamentals of Forensic Assessment

Fundamentals of Forensic


David L. Shapiro, Ph. D.

Nova Southeastern University

Similarities: Clinical & Forensic

• Use of broad range of assessment techniques to answer referral questions.

• Integration of data looking for consistencies and inconsistencies.

• Preparation of comprehensive report to address referral questions.

Differences: Clinical & Forensic

• Different Focus

– Clinical: diagnosis, prognosis, treatment recommendations

– Forensic: legal issues in addition

• Informed Consent

– Forensic has some elements above and beyond clinical

Differences (continued)

• Need to integrate clinical and legal issues

• Concept of functional legal competencies

• Clinical finding different from legal issues

• Access to data: May be different

– Issues of confidentiality and privilege

Use of Traditional Psychological

Tests in Forensic Practice

• Objective Testing: Problems with test validation

• Objective Testing: Problem with conceptual issues

• Projective Testing: Issues regarding validity and reliability

Use of Traditional Psychological

Tests in Forensic Practice (continued)

• Cognitive Testing: Cautions regarding “real world data” – e.g. Miranda

• Trauma Testing: Increased Relevance for

Forensic Issues

• Tests for Malingering: Relevance and cautions in forensic issues

Objective Testing

• Computerized printouts- integration with other data

• Issues of normative data bases

• Ethical issues

• Limits of interpretation

• What tests to use?

• Malingering indices

Projective Testing

• Early uses of projectives

• Limits of Interpretation

• Constraints in forensic settings

• Subjective/Objective Interpretation

• External Verification (e.g. D.P. case)

Cognitive Testing

• Evaluation of scales

• Limits of Interpretation

• External Verification

• Relevance to certain legal tests:

– Unique status

• Neuropsychological screening

Trauma Testing

• Distinction from Trauma Scales on Tests

• Need for external verification

• Cautions in interpretation




• Use of history and collateral data

• Cognitive and personality: need to keep tests separate






Forensic Assessment Instruments

• Integration of legal issues into test construction

• Formulated around legal constructs

• Use in conjunction with clinical tests

Grisso Instruments

• Miranda Rights





– Increasing complexity:

• Comparison of scores

• Need for external verification

Competency to Stand Trial

• Sentence Completion Tests (CST)

• Structured Interview )CAI)

• Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview (IFI)



• ILK (Malingering Test)



Criminal Responsibility

• Structured Interviews

• Collateral Material

• R-CRAS- cautions

Assessment of Violent Behavior

• Early History

– “Three Generations”

– Role of Mental Illness

– The Macarthur Studies

– Conceptual Shifts

– Five Domains

Types of Violence Assessment

• Clinical

• Anamnestic

• Actuarial

• Adjusted Actuarial

• Structured Professional Judgment

Types of Violence Assessment

• Actuarial:



• S.P.J:


– HCR-20

Sex Offender Evaluation

• Sexually Violent Predator Laws

• Actuarial, Adjusted Actuarial

• Clinical, Anamnestic

• S.P.J.

Sex Offender Assessments



• STATIC-99 (2002)



• SVR-20

• Use of PCL-R

Child Custody & Parental Fitness


• Bricklin Perceptual scales


Admissibility of Expert Testimony

• Frye v. U.S. (1923)

• Federal Rules of Evidence (1975)

• Daubert v. Merrell Dow (1993)

• Kumho v. Carimichael (1999)

• F.R.E. Amendments (2000)

• Current Status


• Keith Hannan, Ph.D., consultant to juvenile facilities on “Conduct Disorder.” Dr.

Hannan also does a Friday afternoon webinar series on juvenile delinquency

• David Shapiro, Ph.D., the father of clinical forensic psychology on the

“Fundamentals of Forensic Assessment.” Learn forensic assessment from the best.

• David McDuff, M.D., consultant to the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens on “Sports

Psychiatry.” This webinar is appropriate for all mental health clinicians interested in working with athletes.

• Heather Hartman-Hall, Ph.D., internship training director and talented clinician on

“Making Sense of the Complexities of Trauma.”

• Scott Hannan, Ph.D., seen on the show “Hoarders,” on “Cognitive Behavioral

Therapy for School Refusal.”

• Michael Herkov, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, on “The Ten Most Common

Ethical Errors.”

New speakers coming soon!!!

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