When should you consult a forensic psychologist?

There are many occasions when people find themselves involved in justice-related situations.. In most of these cases, the people concerned look for a lawyer to file a complaint and defend them.

However, in many cases, it is necessary to carry out a psychological expert report to provide solid and conclusive elements which will help the judge in his judgment. Thus, it is necessary to understand what is the task of a forensic psychologist and how it can help us.

Legal psychology is responsible for the study, assessment and counseling of behavioral psychological phenomena related to the behavior of people in the legal field. Thus, legal psychology is a field of psychology responsible for the study of behaviors, psychological phenomena, and relational types of people in the field of law, justice, and law.

Within legal psychology there are many areas of work. Among the different areas of analysis and intervention are prison psychology, police psychology, crime psychology, judicial mediation, victimology, family psychology, youth, labor law, criminal law, etc. Thus, the legal psychologist performs different functions depending on the field of work.

What is an expert psychologist?

An expert psychologist studies and assesses the individual and his behavior psychologically in a forensic context. This professional is specialized and has the capacity and experience to provide technical psychological advice that can help the judge in his sentence. The role of the forensic psychologist is to assess the personality and psychological symptoms of individuals in this legal area.

How does an expert psychologist act in a trial?

In legal proceedings, the expert psychologist can act in different ways depending on the needs. Between them;

  • Psychologist as counselor and counselor. This action can be taken with lawyers or other professionals who must testify. The psychologist advises these professionals on what they can ask of them or how to prepare the request itself.
  • Psychologist as therapist. The goal is to diagnose the patient to determine his mental state. It is generally useful in the event of incapacity for work.
  • The psychologist as an expert. The aim is to advise the judge with the conclusions provided. The psychologist should not act as a therapist and as an expert in the same case, as this undermines his reliability and impartiality.

The expertise can be requested by a judge or a magistrate, by the public prosecutor’s office, by the person concerned or by a lawyer. This report must meet the demand requested as necessary proof.

What is an expert psychologist for?

An expert psychologist is responsible for providing knowledge about events related to the psychological environment. Among the actions he performs, there are:

  • Group information and relevant aspects of the necessary sources (court, social services, other professionals, medical reports, etc.)
  • Perform psychological assessments assessing internal and external factors of individuals. Internal factors are mental health, behavior of the person, personality, etc. and external factors such as social, family, economic, employment, etc.
  • The assessment will be impartial and objective, based on standardized tests, interviews, direct observation and a review of the documentation provided according to each particular case.
  • Ratify the report made during the trial by providing important and crucial psychological symptoms and / or sequelae that help the judge to make decisions in legal proceedings.

When should I seek a psychologist to do a forensic report?

Forensic psychologist Marta Garrido, from the office of psychologists in Malaga, explains how we can detect when it is necessary to carry out a psychological expert report. This may be necessary in one of these situations:

1. Divorce and custody of minors

The most common situations are cases of separation, divorce and custody of minors. The forensic psychologist advises on aspects related to separation, assesses the family situation and parental capacity and establishes the most advantageous type of custody and visitation regime for minors. In addition, the professional also assesses whether it is necessary to modify the custody and the visitation regime. At other times, the psychologist may act as a mediator to seek agreement between the parents.

2. Cases of ill-treatment

When a person suffers from abuse, violence, sexual or other assault, the psychologist assesses the symptoms and psychological consequences resulting from the events experienced (victims). In the case of suspected perpetrators, assess whether there is any mental personality disorder that led him to commit the criminal act. Assess whether there is moral prejudice and the credibility of the testimony among minors.

3. Conflicts at school or at work

Problems caused at school or at work. The forensic psychologist will assess the victim to determine if they have been the victim of bullying (bullying at school), mobbing (harassment at work) or burnout (stress at work) and what the consequences are for these situations. .

4. Accidents

In the event of an accident, psychological sequelae may appear that affect your daily life. (Family, social, professional, personal). The forensic psychologist will focus his work on evaluating psychological symptoms and their severity using specific techniques, this psychological state being caused by the accident. In addition to assessing the damage and deterioration it has caused (how it affects different areas of your life).

5. Psychological sequelae

In the assessment of psychological sequelae, inability to suffer from disease or not having the capacity for volitional and cognitive.

6. Non-pecuniary damage

In the event of moral prejudice (life, honor, dignity, reputation, self-image, social esteem, physical and mental health). For example: cheating on parenthood (finding out that it is not your child), tied to a stressful situation for a long time, etc.

7. Handicap

In the event of a determination of permanent disability. For example, people who suffer from personality disorder, mental illness caused by physical illness, etc.

8. Counter-peritation

Counterteritation. Psychological counter-perception can be helpful on several occasions. When there is an expert report and there are doubts about the procedure and application of the methodology, it may be necessary to carry out another expert report using the methodology correctly. These reports can be prepared in any field (criminal, civil, labor, etc.).

Regardless of the forensic psychologist’s assessment, the psychology expert report must have opposable and defensible evidence with consistent content and objective arguments. Thus, the court report will be relevant to the judge’s decision making. The professional of the Cabinet of Psychologists Málaga Psicoabreu recommends that you seek a forensic psychologist if you are or wish to initiate legal proceedings when there is one of the situations mentioned above or another where there is psychological harm.

Bibliographical references:

  • Adler, JR (ed.). (2004). Forensic psychology: concepts, debates and practice. Cullompton: Willan.

  • Blackburn, R. (1996). “What is Forensic Psychology?”, Legal and Criminological Psychology, February, vol. 1 (part 1), p. 3-16.

  • Casullo, M. (1999) Applications of MMPI-2 in the clinical, forensic and professional fields. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

  • Garzon, (1986) cited by Novo, M. Arce, R., and Fariña, F. (2003). Introduction to legal psychology. In Mr. Novo and Arce, R. (eds.). Judges: Formation of judgments and penalties (pp.13-25) Grenada: University editorial group.

  • Marín M., Espacia A .. (2009) Introduction to forensic psychology. July 8, 2018, from the University of Barcelona.

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