10 keys to knowing when to need a psychological report at the judicial level

During my career as a professional in forensic psychology, I have always found many and varied requests from people who need a report for the forensic field. Even with clients in the civil and criminal (or any other area) who were usually not sure why or why they wanted that report they needed for a trial.

To understand everything, we must keep in mind that in our country, the figure of the forensic psychologist or psychologist began in Spain since the 80s, to gradually develop throughout the territory. A forensic psychologist is an expert psychologist in the forensic field, The task is to assess and report on the subject matter of expertise requested by the parties.

Initially, his figure was always better known in the public sphere, especially in the family sphere, when there were problems of custody of minors in the middle. And, later, also extend his figure as a private professional.

It was long thought that the public professional was more neutral, or that his assessment was more correct than the private professional, because of the false belief that “as the client pays this professional, it is because he understands that he has less neutrality “. Obviously, this is not and should not be the case, being more and more a relevant figure in the Spanish legal system, not to be private or public, it is neither better professional nor more neutral.

This is why I will give you 10 keys to knowing when to look for a psychologist to get you an expert psychological report.

    How and why to seek a psychologist to do forensic psychological reports

    Keep these key ideas in mind when making a decision.

    1. This is not therapy, only an assessment

    Don’t look for a psychologist in therapy, it has nothing to do with it. The psychologist giving you therapy may give you a history report, but it is not a report with guarantees or content or form appropriate for the forensic field.

    Thus, the professional who is only a therapist is not trained to intervene in the legal field. If you need therapy, seek a therapist, but if you are ill for psychological sequelae which, while it may require treatment, are related to a receipt for a trial you need to get, seek out a forensic psychologist.

    2. If you need proof of your mental state …

    Whether for various reasons requested by the client, the psychological report it’s always a test within a test, and that’s its function.

    If you need proof of a psychological sequel after a car accident (take the example that you develop a driving phobia after an accident, or that after a crime you develop post-traumatic stress disorder ), you have to be able to prove two things: that you really have a disorder and that it is really generated by this episode.

    This is where the report comes into play, as it is a comprehensive evaluation mechanism that must also be duly argued and justified by the most up-to-date bibliography and the latest research in each area which is described in The report. The more formal and detailed your test, the more likely you are to have a test in your favor..

    3. It is essential to seek the truth

    If you have a legal problem, don’t think that just hiring a forensic psychologist to report you implies that the report will only prove you right. If you think so, you are wrong.

    The professional must always be neutral, whether hired by you or appointed by the court itself. And that’s what you will get in the report, sometimes it will benefit you, other times it won’t, and sometimes it won’t.

    4. You need a complete job

    I have been told too often “why such a high price for a report, that in two afternoons I have it”. Or that “what I need is something simple for a trial.” It’s a very big mistake, if you go for a report you must apply for a full job.

    A good report does not happen in “two afternoons” and there are no “simple” reports. The psychological expert’s report includes a process that begins with a preliminary analysis: when the client, either by himself or through his lawyer, raises the subject of the expert’s report for you. The first is to study if this can be achieved, to see what tests or means of assessment you should apply, and finally to make a budget for the service you are going to provide.

    Next is the appraisal, which is not fixed, as it can be extended, and this must be included in the price of the report in advance, because what you pay is not only the professional’s time, but also the end result of the test they performed for you.

    Finally, the report must be written, the results reflected and, above all, the conclusions justified; because we remember that, as proof, it serves so that the elements of the Spanish legal system, which are in charge of such important decisions, have the greatest amount of data.

    But this is the report, then a feedback is usually done with the customer. It is important that you understand what has been achieved and then you need to defend or ratify this report for oral / trial view, which could be anywhere in Spain.

    If you are reading this, remember that when hiring you are looking for a professional to do the entire job for you, even if it comes at a steep price.

    5. Evaluate custody

    Reports they do not decide on custody, but reflect the relationship between parents and their children to see the educational and relational ability they have between them., For the judge to assess whether custody is appropriate for a father or a mother.

    I make this point because the field of minors is very frequent to request these reports. What if, the examination can be carried out on the minor by notifying the other party, even if the other party does not agree, if it is for the realization of a report..

    A good forensic psychological report is essential for this area, and here it is important to seek out a well-trained and specialized professional.

    6. The time required to submit the test

    The most common problem is that clients ask you for a report to be done within a week or 15 days; always, as a general rule, when these types of clients come to me, i usually reply that my professionalism prevents me from adapting to such short deadlines.

    Indeed, a report is not something that is done quickly, if you come back to point 4, you will see all the steps to follow. For that, every time you go to request a report, do it in advance, at least a month.

    7. Make sure you rent it for its price – well thought out, it’s not as expensive as you might think

    I would like to develop this on another point. Expert reports are expensive, usually around a price over $ 1000 (this in 2020), but is what you are going to hire is nothing, is it something that it can mark the difference between one result or another in the judicial environment.

    Logically, a complex tool that must also be defended in an essay will be expensive. Also, it is not an installment payment, but only one, so basically the investment is not as big as a cross.

    I make a comparison. If you go to a health psychologist / clinician for therapy sessions, on average the session usually costs around $ 50 and you go there weekly for 6 months which may be the right length of time. At the end of your intervention, you have paid around 1200 € (probably more). Seen from this approach, the extensive work of a psychologist in the forensic field is no longer as expensive as it seems.

    8. When it’s useful and you really need it

    Here sometimes this is not so much the failure of the client, but of his lawyer, That to try to get some other proof that may help, encourage the client to seek a report; but then this relation is not necessary or really insignificant.

    Let us take again the example of the traffic accident; we think the person is developing a psychological sequel, and the lawyer what the expert asks is that I have assessed the credibility of the testimony. It could be done, but it makes no sense to assess this aspect, and a psychopathological assessment of the sequelae would be more helpful.

    Also, countless times I have been asked to rate another person, say, on the opposite side, without seeing them. this is impossible and is a mistake, besides being unethical and meaningless. The professional can only enter the information he has assessed and on the people he has seen.

    9. Be clear that this is a tool, not a guarantee.

    It is normal that a client, when requesting a report, wants it to be perfect; he deserves nothing less. But a good report is not a guarantee of victory in a lawsuit, even if it is favorable to the person.

    It should be understood that this is one more tool, but it does not give a full guarantee, Because it’s totally out of control. Do not hire him if you are not aware of this point.

    The important thing is to have well-trained professionals and a well-defined object of expertise to maximize the possibilities.

    10. Good and healthy questions

    Sometimes the goal isn’t just to have the rapport. it is also know that lawyers must ask themselves the right questions so that the professional can disseminate this information during an oral hearing.

    In other words, just having the report and asking the professional to come and say, “I ratify it” is essentially losing money. It is important that the lawyer thinks about what he can and should ask; it will do so if it is favorable to it, but also if it is not. Because your goal is to take the report apart as evidence if it doesn’t benefit your client, or to rely on your theses if it gives you a better chance of winning.

    It is also important to know how to ask questions about the reports of opponents, even if in Spain the figure of the “counter report” is not very well received.

    Would you like to know more?

    If you need more information to request a report, please contact me; My name is Rubén Tovar, I am a health psychologist and I specialize in clinical, legal and forensic psychology by UCM and founder of Terapiaencasa.es. Me and my colleague Luis Lucio Lobato, health psychologist and university professor, carry out reports all over Spain.

    In our methodology we always intervene two professionals, because this gives more credibility and neutrality to our reports. In addition, we always justify in great detail all the information we include in our reports.

    If you need more information, ask us through these contact details.

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