Category Archives: Psychology



Assignment 3: RA Working Ahead

Case Scenario:

You work for a large corporate business. One of the managers at the company receives an anonymous e-mail message claiming that a certain employee, Bob, has been acting strangely and muttering threats to get even with others. The manager calls the police, who, after obtaining Bob’s permission, search his car and workstation but find no evidence of any weapons. Bob denies ever making any sort of threat and says he was just having a bad day.

The manager asks you to conduct a threat assessment on Bob. The manager says that the company has the right to conduct a threat assessment, but Bob is liable to sue if he is fired as a consequence of your findings, so the threat assessment has to stand up to scrutiny in court. In addition, Bob must be determined by you to have “fully cooperated” with the assessment in order to avoid termination. Therefore, you can expect him to participate in any form of assessment you choose even though he may lie or misrepresent his answers. If you state Bob lied during the assessment, he will be fired. This, too, must stand up to scrutiny in court.

You review Bob’s personnel record. He has been late to work several times and has even come to work drunk. He missed one week of work three years ago while jailed on a drunk and disorderly charge. He took personal leave to cover the missed time, and the arrest was discovered only by a report in the newspaper.

At the time of his arrest, he had a gun in his possession, for which he had a permit and which he could carry as a concealed weapon. Bob has been divorced twice and has no children. He currently lives alone. He has completed the eleventh grade but not his General Educational Development (GED). School records reveal he was often truant and was suspended three times for fighting. He served two years in the military and was honorably discharged after being found to have a “severe personality disorder that made him unsuitable for duty.”

Part 1: Planning


On the basis of the case scenario, create a 3- to 5-page plan in a Microsoft Word document addressing the following questions:

What is the purpose of the specialized interview?

How will you plan the assessment?

Whom will you interview and why?

What will you tell Bob about the nature and purpose of the evaluation and its potential consequences? Why?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a telephone interview?

In addition, answer the following:

What assessment instruments will you administer to Bob? Why?

How will you evaluate the truthfulness of his responses?

What methods will you use to deal with Bob’s defensive posture in interviews?

Part 2: Client Statement

In Part 1, you created a broad plan of action to investigate the threat Bob poses to the company. To conduct the risk assessment for Bob, in this part of the assignment, you will explore the existing risk assessment questionnaires you can administer to him.


Create a 1- to 2-page reference paper (below the plan you created in Part 1) addressing the following:

Identify a single risk assessment questionnaire or instrument used by psychologists. Find four references—web-based references or published scientific reports—on the instrument or on the process of risk assessment.

Your list of references should include at least two articles for and two articles against the risk assessment questionnaire or instrument in general (write a 1-paragraph summary of each reference you provide).

Described the purpose of the interview and prepared a well-articulated plan to conduct the assessment.

Identified the assessment instruments and methods you would use with Bob and justified their use.

Identified the methods you would use to evaluate the truthfulness of Bob’s responses.


Provided the information you would disclose to Bob before conducting the investigation and justified it.

Stated the advantages and disadvantages of a telephone interview.

Submitted a well-structured report providing an appropriate rationale for your choices.

Identified a risk assessment questionnaire used by psychologists that you can use for your investigation.

Listed at least two articles for and two articles against the risk assessment questionnaire or risk assessment in general.

Sample paper


Any investor should pay attention to all threats that are likely to affect the course of doing business for their organizations and companies. Despite the fact that there is a possibility of insuring their business entities against threats, the human threat remains one of the hardest threats to predict and insure against. As a result, it is important for employees to adopt comprehensive workplace violence- prevention policies that establish processes to make sure employees safety and wellbeing is not compromised. Comprehensive workplace safety policies put more emphasis on how to prevent violence, management of a violent event, support violence victims and controls of weapons in the workplace. In case there is violence in the workplace, there is the need for the management of the organization to conduct a risk assessment which acts as a prevention strategy. Often risk assessment focuses on identifying employee threats to participate in violent activities, determining the seriousness of the threat and finally developing an intervention plan to protect employees from the violent individual (O’Toole, 2009)m. This assignment will focus on ways and techniques an organization can use to conduct and effective and appropriate threat assessment plan.

Part 1: Planning

To determine whether Bob is guilty of threat accusations from other workers, there is the need to conduct an interview to reveal the truth if the matter. An interview is a formal consultant that is often conducted by an interviewer to an interviewee to obtain a piece of information or an opinion from an individual. However, a specialized interview is more than a formal interview considering that the interviewer, in this case, I will be looking and hunting for specific information from the members of the workforce (Deisinger, 2008). In the case of violent employees, psychological interviews widely reffer4ed to as forensic psychology is very important in various ways such as identifying the reasons behind violent acts of the employees as well as personality disorders among the members of the labor force. As a result, the specialized interview can be defined as the interaction, psychology and the law of the country or rather the rules and regulations that govern an organization for that matter.

To obtain reliable information and data that will stand court scrutiny as well as data that will be used by the management of the organization to make the final decision regarding Bob, I need to interview Bob, his two ex-wives, some of his colleagues especially those who were threatened and finally his immediate supervisor. To get unbiased information, each interviewee will be interviewed separately from their counterparts and their stories recorded differently for comparison purposes.  Moreover, each interviewee will not be threatened or coerced, but rather will be allowed to speak freely and contribute to the final findings of this assessment. The participants mentioned earlier are crucial in this assessment considering that they have been directly involved or worked with Bob on one occasion or another. Through identification of the relationship between Bob and his colleagues whom he threatened as well as finding the root cause of his threats will enable us to understand his behavior and motives behind the threats.  Moreover, interviewing his two ex-wives will eventually reveal the reasons behind their break ups as well as provide a behavior pattern that can be utilized to elaborate the certain change in behavior in the workplace (Meloy, 2015). Finally, his immediate supervisor is the only person who can help this assessment by providing information regarding any recent changes in behavior pattern of his staff. Past and present behavioral patterns will be crucial when making my findings and recommendations.

Bob deserves to know the truth about the nature and purpose of the threat assessment. Considering that full cooperation from Bob counts a lot in the final re3commedation of the assessment, there is a great need for him to understand that his career is the line. The first step will be to inform Bob of the purpose of the assessment which to identify and evaluate the real reasons behind his threats to other employees.  Secondly, Bob needs to know the importance of the assessment. The importance of this assessment is to determine if he is a threat to himself as well as to other members of the workforce. Finally Bob needs to understand that the assessment will determine his suitability to occupy his position in the organization as well as determine if he is reliable and fit enough to work in the company (Meloy, The concept of identification in threat assessment. , 2015). By informing him of the nature and purpose of the assessment, Bob has a decision to make before the completion of the assessment. He has to determine if he wants to remain part of the workforce or whether he wants his career to come to an end.  His full cooperation would be appreciated and needed to make the final decision.

Interviews can take different forms depending on the nature of the information the interviewer wants to get as well as the distance between the interviewer and the interviewee and telephone interview is just one of them. Often, telephone interviews are conducted when the distance between the interviewer and the interview is too large to be closed within the stipulated time.  A telephone interview is an effective way for an interviewer to screen the interviewee quickly and with the lowest overall expenditure regarding money and time. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the telephone interview.


  1. Cheap and cheerful – a phone call is way far much easier and less costly than other forms of interview, especially face to face interview mostly where distance and time are factors. As a result, the interviewer stands a high chance of conducting many types of research in a short period as opposed to another form of interviews such as mail interview.
  2. There is a wide geographical access when conducting a telephone interview – an interviewer has a wide geographical access with telephone interviews considering that he can conduct the interview from different parts of the globe provided there is network coverage. Nearly, every individual in the universe, especially in the United States, has a land-line telephone or a cell phone, making it easy to get hold of an individual and conduct the interview there and then(Szolnoki, 2013).
  3. Fast data collection – the speed at which data and information are collected through telephone interview is obviously faster compared to face to face interview. The interviewer has a great opportunity of ringing one interviewee and straight to the next one which saves time and enables the interviewer to put the obtained information into the computer directly.
  4. Effort effective – a phone interview takes far much less energy and efforts as opposed to other forms of interviews.


  • Less control – the interviewer has less control over the interview given the fact that the interview is conducted over the telephone. Moreover, given the fact that they cannot face the interviews, it is hard to tell when the interviewee is telling the truth or when they are lying.
  • Loss of personal appeal – personal appeal, body reactions, and expressions are very crucial when conducting any form interview considering that they can tell more about what the interviewees feel about the topic at hand. At times it is hard to convince the interviewer on the phone but becomes very easy to convince him or her during face to face interview.
  • Prohibited use of images and visual aids in a question – both the interviewer and the interviewee are not in a position to use visual aids and images to support their answers and feelings towards a particular subject. As a result, phone interview restricts the types of questions asked which could have otherwise been conducted during a face to face interview(Irvine, 2013).

An interviewer may use different assessment tools to obtain his information based on the nature of the information as well as the relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee.  In this case, face to face interview and questionnaire to Bob would work miracles.  Face to face interview will eventually give me a chance to witness first hand Bob’s emotions and body expressions and reactions to my question.  On the other hand, questionnaires will give Bob enough time to think and ponder over the answers which increase chances of getting the truth out of him.  To evaluate the truthfulness of his responses, I would compare his responses, and he answers given by other interviewees on the same subject. Besides, I would constantly remind him of the purpose and importance of the assessment to try to deal with his defensive posture in the interview.

Part 2: Client statement

A good questionnaire should at least contain open and closed ended questions to give the interviewee an option and platform to express themselves and their answers. Below are some possible questions that I can include in Bob’s questionnaire.

  • Why have you threatened or made comments which have been perceived by your colleagues as threatening? What is happening in your life that is prompting you to do this?
  • Are you aware of what has been said to your friends, coworkers and family members regarding what is troubling you?
  • How do you view yourself in relation to everyone else?
  • Do you perceive the words you uttered as threatening?
  • Do you feel like you have been wronged in any way?
  • Do you accept responsibility for your actions?
  • How do you cope with disappointments, loss, and failure?
  • Do you blame others for your failures?
  • Are you experiencing personal issues such as split up, separation, and mortification in the family, health challenges or other personal challenges?
  • Are you occupied with violent themes? That is being interested in violent events or do you get excited by weapons?
  • Have you received uncomplimentary performance reviews or have you been criticized by the management or the supervisor in the recent past?
  • Are you experiencing financial problems, high personal debt or bankruptcy?
  • Do you have a plan for what to do? If yes, what is the plan?
  • Do you think you deserve and fit enough to continue working in this organization?
  • Do you have justifications for your actions? If yes, what are they


Deisinger, G. R. (2008). The handbook for campus threat assessment & management teams. Stoneham, MA: . Applied Risk Management.

Irvine, A. D. (2013). ‘Am I not answering your questions properly?’Clarification, adequacy and responsiveness in semi-structured telephone and face-to-face interviews. . Qualitative Research, 13(1),, 87-106.

Meloy, J. R. (2015). The concept of identification in threat assessment. . Behavioral sciences & the law, 33(2-3),, 213-237.

Meloy, J. R. (2015). The concept of identification in threat assessment. . Behavioral sciences & the law, 33(2-3), , 213-237.

O’Toole, M. E. (2009). The school shooter a threat assessment perspective. . DIANE Publishing.

Szolnoki, G. &. (2013). Online, face-to-face and telephone surveys—Comparing different sampling methods in wine consumer research. . Wine Economics and Policy, 2(2), , 57-66.


Differentiate between interviewing and interrogation

Differentiate between interviewing and interrogation


In this assignment, you will explore how interrogation is different from interviewing.


You work as a psychology professional for a metropolitan police department. Your primary job is to screen police officers for employment and emotional stability. You make recommendations about their suitability for employment, conduct interviews with police officers to determine whether they should be referred for counseling, and monitor their performance by dialogues with their superiors. You are recognized for your skills as a clinician, and you are asked to participate with a team of interrogators so they may become more proficient in obtaining confessions from suspects.

Compare the relationship of a psychology professional working with a suspect as a client with the relationship of a psychology professional working as a consultant to an interrogator.


In a minimum of 300 words, respond to the following:

Part 1: Differentiate between interviewing and interrogation. What are the goals of interviewing and interrogation? In what instances would a psychology professional be involved in an interrogation?

Part 2: Identify a context and setting for a forensic psychology professional to be involved in an interrogation. What would be your concerns in taking on the role of or assisting that forensic psychology professional?

Part 3: Review the current version of the APA ethics code and the APA resolution on interrogations and identify an ethical principle that potentially conflicts with psychology professionals participating in interrogation. Discuss your choice in relation to the context and setting you identified in Part 2.

Use the current version of the APA ethics code; choose elements of the ethical principles to explore issues, such as “do not harm,” “informed consent,” “use of assessment techniques by unqualified persons,” and “resolving ethics code conflicts in an organization.” Explore the following issues in the context of the scenario above:

Who is a psychology professional’s client?

With whom does a psychology professional have a professional relationship?

Do psychology professionals have any professional (as opposed to “moral”) obligations to suspects?

Sample paper

Differentiate between interviewing and interrogation

Over the years, people have been mistaking interview for interrogation, and as a result, they have been using these two words interchangeably.  However, there is a slight difference between interrogation and interview that most individuals do not know. Interrogation focuses on getting an answer to predetermined questions and thus can be described as a form inquiry. On the other side, an interview is a formal meeting where the interviewer asks the questions, and the interviewee answers them based on what he or she believes in. Besides, interrogation is mainly designed to get suspects to confess to their crimes.

Part 1

Depending on the situation an interview and an interrogation may have different goals and objectives. The primary objective of an interview is to get more information regarding an event or a subject, and the interviewee is not coerced to give the information required. The interviewee is supposed to narrate what he or she saw or what they know (Association., 2013). On the other hand, interrogation does not take place in a free environment, and in most, it takes place in a secure and closed room.  In most cases, the interrogator tries to get the truth from the person they interrogate by confession, and at times, they have to coerce or force the information from an individual.

  1. Psychology professional participates in interrogation in unusual circumstances, especially when the psychological well-being of the workers is called into question.
  2. Professional psychologist’s help is necessary when workers show signs and symptoms of psychological breakdown.
  3. A psychologist may also be useful in evaluating the mental strength of the workforce to determine those suitable to fill a particular position in the police force.

Part 2

Forensic psychology seeks to integrate psychology and the law of the country. As a result, forensic psychologists may work in prisons, jails, and rehabilitation centers, government agencies and police departments. Besides, they try to examine the psychology from other professionals as well as study criminals and their crimes to determine traits of a certain criminal. In most cases, forensic psychologists interrogate a suspect to determine whether they are fit enough to stand a trial in the court of law. Other times to conduct an assessment of the jury to determine their suitability in for the case at hand as well as interrogate criminals and advise police department or the law officers involved in the likely responses and behavior pattern from the suspects (Liu, 2015). The major issue and challenge in this industry is the struggle to maintain integrity in all assessments. Often, forensic psychologists strive for accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in science and law. Psychologists strive not to take up a job that can lead them to provide misleading and inaccurate information and testimony.

Part 3

The American Psychological Association (APA) prohibits its members from participating in any activities or business that can result in torture directly or indirectly.  Moreover, psychologists, particularly forensic psychologists are not allowed to participate in any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. As a result, participation in torture or punishing a suspect physically or psychologically to get information shadows the integrity and credibility of this industry and professional (Jackson, 2015). When the integrity of this profession is undermined, people and courts tend to lose trust and faith in testimonies and information presented to them by forensic psychologists.  Thus, to protect their credibility, forensic psychologists should be careful when participating in interrogation activities.


Association., A. P. (2013). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. . The American Psychologist, 68(1),, 7.

Jackson, R. &. (2015). Learning forensic assessment: Research and practice. . Routledge.

Liu, M. C. (2015). Forensic Psychology.


Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

Ms. Tyler Case Study


Case Scenario


The defendant is a forty-year-old, single, black female charged with a first-degree assault. Specifically, she is alleged to have splashed liquid fire, a liquid drain cleaner, onto another woman’s face, thus incidentally splashing five bystanders. Per the court order you received, Ms. Tyler was referred some time after the alleged crime for evaluation of her criminal responsibility. Her competency to stand trial (CST) was also at issue. At the time of the evaluation, Ms. Tyler was being held at the Southern County Detention Center. You met with Ms. Tyler. The defendant was informed that the results of the evaluation will be released to the court and that the results may be used against her in the court. Ms. Tyler gave her written consent to be evaluated.

Psychosocial History:

Only limited information is available regarding Ms. Tyler’s background. She is a lifetime resident of the state. Her mother died of cancer at the age of seventy-nine years. Her father, L. Defendant, is eighty-four years old and is a retired farmer. Ms. Tyler has five living sisters, four living brothers, and two deceased siblings. Three of her sisters have received inpatient psychiatric treatment. One sister lives in Close Town, one in Europe with her husband who is in the military, and one sister died in a drowning accident. One brother committed suicide by hanging himself. There is no history of psychiatric problems among the other brothers.

Ms. Tyler has completed the tenth grade. She is literate. Ms. Tyler has worked on an assembly line for five years until 1988 when the factory closed. She then did an office-cleaning job. Her reasons for leaving this position are vague. She was unemployed for several years and was supported by her family. She lives in rent-free government housing. Her church pastor, A. Reverend, arranged for her to get employment at Helpful Industries through a vocational office at the State Psychiatric Hospital. She was employed at Helpful Industries for approximately two months prior to the incident. Ms. Tyler has never married. She has a thirteen-year-old son who lives with his father.

Psychiatric History:

Ms. Tyler denies any previous psychiatric treatment. Family members and individuals who know Ms. Tyler state that she has a long history of psychiatric symptoms such as loose associations and persecutory delusions. Ms. Tyler’s sister, Ms. Sister, reports that Ms. Tyler has been violent in the past, threatening her niece with a knife. Her emotional difficulties were also apparently common knowledge among her congregation. As stated above, Ms. Tyler has a positive family history for psychiatric illness. Ms. Tyler is currently on haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication.

Ms. Tyler denies any alcohol or substance abuse. She states that she has one previous arrest for prostitution in 1975. She spent six months in jail for this offense.

Report of the Crime:

When asked to report what happened, Ms. Tyler states, “It happened so fast, I just remember, I threw it on her. I didn’t mean to.” She continues, “I threw liquid fire on her. She always caused me trouble . . . She picked with me all the time . . . Sometimes she would step on my feet. I did not mean to do it, it happened so quick I did not understand myself. That morning when I went to church, I was standing by a table and she came over, starting trouble with me . . . Came over and said my name.”

Ms. Tyler was guarded in her responses, and at one point, she asked what the court would do with her if she said, “just didn’t know why I did it.” Her report conflicts with several eyewitness reports. All the eyewitnesses who were interviewed claimed that Ms. Tyler yelled at Ms. Mobly. Mr. Witness 1 states that Ms. Tyler approached Ms. Mobly and said, “I’m getting sick and tired of you picking on me every day at church.” He states that she then started splashing Ms. Mobly with the drain cleaner. Ms. Witness 2’s account is similar. She states, “As soon as Ms. Mobly entered, Ms. Tyler grabbed her purse and started throwing the solution on her saying ‘told you I was gonna get you. I’m tired of you getting me in trouble.'”

Ms. Witness 3’s report of the incident is also similar. Additionally, Ms. Witness 3 states that Ms. Tyler would frequently deny making threats when confronted with an issue, claiming that she did not make such a threat or did not remember making it. Ms. Witness 3 also states that Ms. Tyler reported experiencing auditory hallucinations telling her to get people. However, Ms. Tyler has consistently denied hallucinations.


In a 8- to 10-page report, analyze this case and address the following to the best of your abilities:

What tests or assessments would you recommend to provide a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of Ms. Tyler?

Provide diagnostic impressions based upon the case and the tests you have recommended. Provide an explanation or a rationale for how you arrived at this diagnosis.

What are the psycholegal issues to be assessed? What are the standards used to evaluate these issues (i.e., discuss the relevant court decisions and holdings)?

What tests should be administered and why? What is the empirical support for the tests you have suggested?

What other information do you need to offer an opinion on whether Ms. Tyler is competent to stand trial?

What other information do you need to offer an opinion as to whether Ms. Tyler met the legal criteria for insanity at the time of the offense?

What outcomes do you expect will be reached by the court with regard to these issues and why?

What are the potential ethical issues involved in this case? How would you resolve these issues?

Sample paper

Ms. Tyler Case Study

It is important to Put Ms. Tyler through a number of assessments in order to obtain a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of her mental status. Ms. Witness 3 reports that Ms. Tyler makes threats but later denies making threats. In addition, she reports that Ms. Tyler experiences auditory hallucinations. With this regard, it is important to conduct a test to examine her hallucinatory tendency. The Launay Slade Hallucination Scale (LSHS) is an appropriate tool that can help examine her hallucinatory tendency. The LSHS is a questionnaire comprising of 12 items designed to measure auditory and visual hallucinatory tendency at clinical as well as subclinical levels (Gracie, et al., 2007). The LSHS tool is however applicable to normal individuals only. Reports indicate that Ms. Tyler experiences persecutory delusions. The paranoia scale (PS) can help examine the occurrence of paranoia in an individual. The paranoia scale comprises of 5-points, which rates items from 1 – 5 , ranging from “not at all applicable” to “extremely applicable” (Gracie, et al., 2007, p. 284). The items in the paranoia scale are designed to measure persecutory predisposition, suspiciousness, resentment, and ideas about reference.

The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) can help in assessing whether Ms. Tyler had a traumatic childhood, and whether childhood experiences are the result of the current behavior. The TLEQ comprises of 24 –items that examine whether an individual was exposed to traumatic events (Gracie, et al., 2007). Using a yes/no format, the items seek to establish whether an individual has experienced any traumatic event. The questionnaire also prompts individuals to rate their fear on a 3-point scale in the event that one experienced a traumatic occurrence. The questionnaire can help examine whether Ms. Tyler experienced emotional abuse and neglect during childhood, which could be manifested in adulthood in different ways.

Another assessment for Ms. Tyler is the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), which groups items using three subscales (Wallwork, Fortgang, Hashimoto, Weinberger, & Dickinson, 2012). The first scale examines positive symptoms such as excitement, grandiosity, hallucinatory behavior, and others. The second scale evaluates negative symptoms such as emotional withdrawal, stereotyped thinking, and others. The third scale evaluates general psychopathology factors such as anxiety, tension, poor impulse control, uncooperativeness, and others. Another important tool is the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), which measures various symptoms such as anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and general unusual behavior.

The diagnostic impressions relating to Ms. Tyler point toward psychosis. Psychosis a range of mental health conditions that cause distortion of reality among those involved. In particular, Ms. Tyler seems to suffer from schizophrenia with paranoia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) (n.d), schizophrenia is a mental health condition that affects thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns of individual. The key risk factors associated with schizophrenia are genes and the environment. In this case, Ms. Tyler’s siblings (sisters) have had episodes of psychotic behavior. Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common form of schizophrenia. According to Puri and Treasaden (2009), individuals suffering from paranoid schizophrenia are likely to experience distortions in their perceptions of reality. For instance, they may experience auditory hallucinations, or believe that other people are planning to harm them in some way. Moreover, Puri and Treasaden (2009) observe that people suffering from schizophrenia are likely to become violent to delusions and the hallucinations they experience. Ms. Tyler exhibits most of the behaviors mentioned above, such as violence, auditory hallucinations, persecutory delusions, and others.

The recommended tests could also indicate that Ms. Tyler is suffering from schizophrenia with paranoia. According to Gracie et al. (2007), there is a close connection between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis. In other words, majority of those with psychotic disorders also show signs of PTSD. The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) will help examine the history of Ms. Tyler concerning traumatic events. The Paranoia Scale will help evaluate the level of paranoia, specifically thoughts about persecution, ideas about reference, and resentment. If Ms. Tyler obtains a high score, it would be clear that she is suffering from one or more of the schizophrenic symptoms. The LSHS scale will help examine Ms. Tyler’s hallucinatory predisposition. A common symptom associated with schizophrenia is hallucinations, both auditory and visual. The PANSS helps in measuring the severity level of various symptoms in patients suffering from schizophrenia. Some of the items to be measured include delusions, hallucinations, hyperactivity, hostility, and others. The BPRS scale will also help in measuring various symptoms presented by the patient.

Various psycholegal issues may emerge concerning Ms. Tyler’s case. One of the issues concerns to reviewing the ‘case facts’. Examiners in a case can review various documents relating to the client, such as police reports with an aim to challenge the psychology professional’s opinion. The examiner may review the information prior or during the case. The psychology professional must take into consideration third party opinions in order to corroborate evidence. Another psycholegal issue regards to competency to stand trial (Skeem, Golding, Cohn, Berge, 1998). The psychology professional must establish whether the defendant can understand the nature of the proceedings or the accusations brought against him or her.

Another psycholegal issue relates to the nature of data used. The psychology professional may rely on traditional clinical data or methods of testing, which the courts may fail to recognize as sound methods. Another psycholegal issue involves issuing an opinion on competency to stand trial without basing judgment on sound data analysis (Skeem et al., 1998). The psychologist professional must also address the issue of evaluation and advocacy. As evaluators, the professional provides objectivity, while as an advocate the professional is a guide.

The Dusky Standard is one of the standards used to evaluate the psycholegal issues. In Dusky v. United States, the Federal Court held that the defendant must show competency and understanding in order to stand trial. The defendant must show rationality of proceedings and be able to consult with the attorney. Another standard used to evaluate the issue is the Daubert Standard. This standard examines the nature of the scientific inquiry, for instance, the methods of data collection, the theory applied, the quality of data used, and potential errors that could result (Erickson & Grise, 2013). The Daubert Standard holds that the judge is the ‘gatekeeper’ regarding admissibility of expert testimony. Another standard used to evaluate these issues is based on Ewing v. Goldstein ruling, which regards the need for the psychologist professional to warn any identifiable victims about particular threats.

The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) is a significant test that is worth considering. The PANSS test is of the most widely applied scales in evaluating psychotic behavior among individuals. The scale comprises of 30 items categorized into three subscales. The PANSS is one of the most useful tools applied in schizophrenia research in the modern world. Since the Ms. Tyler shows schizophrenic symptoms, it is important to apply the PANSS test. The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) should also be administered. This is because the scale helps in evaluating the general symptomatology of the patient, anxiety levels, hostility, and signs of depression. The BPRS has a high validity, reliability, and sensitivity, which makes it an accurate measure of psychopathological predisposition (Leucht et al., 2006). The last measure is the Paranoia Scale. The Paranoia Scale has a high internal consistency, thus it will be a good measure of various behavioral tendencies.

The empirical backing of the Paranoia Scale relates to its high internal consistency. According to Gracie et al. (2007), the scale has a high internal consistency with a Cronbach’s alpha level of 0.84. In addition, the measure exhibits good test-retest reliability with a correlation value of 0.70 after a 6-month period. The PANSS provides comprehensive evaluation of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. The entire scale comprises of 30 items. This increases its validity and reliability. A reliability test conducted by Emsley et al. (2003) indicates that the PANSS has over 0.80 inter-rater reliability. This indicates that the scale yields dependable results. There is a strong association between the PANSS and BPRS assessments (Leucht et al., 2006). As such, utilizing the two tests can be a good way of examining client behavioral aspects.

There is other information necessary to prove that Ms. Tyler is competent to stand trial. One of these is rational understanding of the matters at hand. Rationality refers to the mental states of an individual as exemplified by purposeful or coherent beliefs, and the ability to make decisions that weigh costs and benefits. A rational person will act in a way that reduces detriments. Ms. Tyler should have the mental capacity to recognize her presence with regard to time and place. As such, if Ms. Tyler is not able to understand that she is in a court of law and charged for a particular crime, then she may be deemed incompetent to stand trial. From the case study, Ms. Tyler is aware of the consequences that she may face if she is found guilty, and this is the reason she is guarded in her response.

Another information that may help tell whether she is competent to stand trial regards her ability to consult with her lawyer about the alleged offense. If Ms. Tyler is able to talk to her lawyer about the facts surrounding the case, then she may be deemed competent to stand trial. This would show whether the defendant might satisfy the conditions of M’Naghten rule. Other information necessary regards to the ability to recall the events of the day she committed the crime. If Ms. Tyler has sufficient memory to recall the events of the day, she can stand trial. It is clear that Ms. Tyler can articulate the events of the particular day when the offense was committed. As such, it is clear that she is not mentally incapacitated.

It is important to identify relevant third party information with regard to the case. Gathering third party information can provide crucial details regarding whether Ms. Tyler is competent to stand trial (Otto 2006). The examiner may evaluate criminal justice records such as arrest reports in order to gain more information concerning the nature of charges. Other records that may be of great importance are medical records, mental health records, and even school records. The social history of the defendant is also important and may help assess whether Ms. Tyler is competent to stand trial (Otto, 2006). The social history includes family history, substance abuse history, academic history, and other details regarding the life of the defendant.

The general criteria for establishing whether the defendant meets the legal criteria for insanity at the time of the offense regards whether he/she is criminally responsible for their behavior. There are a number of tests used to establish whether the defendant was insane at the time of committing the offense. A common standard applied in this is the M’Naghten rule, which states that insane defendants cannot face conviction of offenses resulting from the mental defect (“Findlaw,” n.d). The focus of this rule is whether the defendant could actually identify wrong or right at the time of the offense. The tests applied include Durham rule, Model Penal Code Test, and the Irresistible Impulse Test. Thus, in order to offer an opinion on whether Ms. Tyler met the legal criteria for insanity, one may need additional information about her mental health state. It is important to establish whether her mental status is solely to attribute for her actions. For instance, was she aware of the fact that she was committing an offense?

The outcome that is most likely to be reached by the court is that Ms. Tyler is competent to stand trial. In addition, the defendant was sane at the time of the crime and clearly understood wrong from right. The Ali Model Penal Code test (ALI Test) assumes that a defendant can be found not guilty by reason of insanity only if he/she suffers from a relevant mental health problem and during the time of committing the offense could not satisfy two requirements. First, he/she is unable to appreciate the wrongfulness or rightness of his conduct, and second, he is unable to “conform his conduct to the requirements of the law” (“Findlaw,” n.d). It is clear that at the time of committing the offense, Ms. Tyler could appreciate the wrongness and rightness of her actions. As Ms. Witness 2 recounts, Ms. Tyler was on a revenge mission since the plaintiff always got her into trouble.

It is clear that while committing the offense, Ms. Tyler understood the criminality of her actions. In addition, Ms. Tyler can conform her actions to the requirements of the law. During trial, Ms. Tyler asks the court what would happen if she said, “just didn’t know why I did it”, meaning she is aware of her criminal conduct. From the eyewitness accounts, it is clear that Ms. Tyler held a grudge with Ms. Mobly. Although it could partly be the result of her psychotic behavior, she understood the nature of her actions, and including the legal consequences. Ms. Tyler tells off the victim that she is “tired of you picking on me every day at church”, meaning she was aware of the issue between her and Ms. Mobly. The fact that Ms. Tyler knew what she was doing indicates she was aware of her actions. As such, she is competent to stand trial in the court of law.

There are a number of ethical issues surrounding this case. The concept of ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ raises many ethical issues in the legal field. The first ethical issue is the usefulness of the psychology professional’s testimony in court. The professional may arrive at the wrong decision by relying on wrong facts or using outdated methods. In such a scenario, it would be difficult to ascertain whether the defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity. Another ethical issue involved in this case regards the responsibility of the criminal act. If the court holds that Ms. Tyler is not guilty by reason of insanity, this will allow her to evade taking responsibility of her actions.

The not guilty by reason of insanity standard requires that at the time of committing crime, the defendant must have been suffering from a mental disorder, which significantly impairs judgement. In addition, there must be a causative link between the impaired function and the mental health issue. A causative link shows the cause of or the result of something. As Smith (2012) notes, establishing the causative link is a difficult and complex process. Thus, establishing a causative link between the mental defect and the impairment resulting can bring complexities in practical application. This gives rise to ethical dilemmas since it is difficult to establish the causative link with regard to the defendant’s actions.

While making the insanity claims, the prosecutors may evaluate the decision on whether to categorize the impairment as either volitional or cognitive. If cognitive impairments are present, this simply means that at the time of committing the offense, the defendant could not be able to tell right or wrong. On the other hand, volitional impairment relates to the defendant’s inability to keep control of their actions. According to smith (2012), these functional categories are ambiguous. As such, it is often difficult for judges and prosecutors to prove any of them. This gives rise to ethical issues since it is difficult to prove volitional and cognitive impairment, yet courts still rely on these measures.


Emsley, R., Rabinowitz, J., Torreman, M., & RIS-INT-35 Early Psychosis Global Working          Group. (2003). The factor structure for the positive and negative syndrome scale   (PANSS) in recent-onset psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, 61(1), 47-57.     doi:10.1016/S0920-9964(02)00302-X

Erickson, D. R., & Grise, L. R. (2013). Best practices – working with experts. ABA. Retrieved     from               sac_2013/52_%20best_practices_for_working_events.authcheckdam.pdf

Findlaw. (n.d). The M’Naghten Rule. Retrieved from            procedure/the-m-naghten-rule.html

Gracie, A., Freeman, D., Green, S., Garety, P. A., Kuipers, E., Hardy, A., . . . Fowler, D. (2007). The association between traumatic experience, paranoia and hallucinations: A test of the          predictions of psychological models. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 116(4), 280-289.   doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2007.01011.x

Leucht, S., Kane, J. M., Etschel, E., Kissling, W., Hamann, J., & Engel, R. R. (2006). Linking      the PANSS, BPRS, and CGI: Clinical implications. Neuropsychopharmacology, 31(10).

National Institute of Mental Health (NIH). (n.d). Schizophrenia. Retrieved from   

Otto, R. K. (2006). Competency to stand trial. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2(3): 1-    32. Retrieved from

Puri, B., & Treasaden, I. (2009). Psychiatry: An evidence-based text. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Skeem, J. L., Golding, S. L., Cohn, N. B., Berge, G. (1998). Logic and reliability of evaluations   of competence to stand trial. Law and Human Behavior, 22(5): 519 – 547.

Smith, S. R. (2012). Neuroscience, ethics and legal responsibility: The problem of the insanity             defense. Science and Engineering Ethics, 18(3), 475-81.

Wallwork, R. S., Fortgang, R., Hashimoto, R., Weinberger, D. R., & Dickinson, D. (2012).          Searching for a consensus five-factor model of the positive and negative syndrome scale       for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 137(1-3), 246-250.             doi:10.1016/j.schres.2012.01.031


Legal Requirements in Texas

Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting


Assignment 1: Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

Correctional psychology is a specialty area within the field of forensic psychology. Work in this setting can present specific challenges for evaluators and treatment providers. For example, a psychology professional working in a corrections facility might serve in dual roles with clients since he or she will likely provide them treatment and evaluate them for early release, risk for dangerousness, and to make recommendations for postrelease conditions. This assignment will introduce you to the specific challenges faced while writing a risk assessment report on a client you have treated during his or her incarceration and presenting the data to the parole board for the purpose of early release. The client has served two years of his four-year sentence for aggravated assault; during this period, he or she has made significant progress, while under your care, with impulse control, anger management, and the ability to challenge his or her criminal thought patterns. You have conducted your risk assessment and are now ready to write your report. Before you write your report, you will have to think about these important factors. Discuss them in your initial post.


Using your textbook and Argosy University online library resources, respond to the following in a minimum of 200 words:

The APA stance on dual relationships for psychology professionals in a correctional setting

The inherent conflict a psychology professional in a corrections setting might experience by being in the dual role of a treatment provider and an evaluator

The individual client factors that might influence prerelease decisions made by psychology professionals in a corrections setting

Sample paper

Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

 Forensic psychology professionals providing mental health services in correctional systems experience a dual role in their attempt to balance community rights and the offender rights. The American Psychological Association does not consider the dual relationships as unethical. However, the APA stipulates that psychology professionals avoid entering into multiple relationships if there is a chance that such relationships could impair their competence, objectivity, or effectiveness (Behnke, 2004). In addition, psychology professionals should not enter dual relationships if there is an apparent risk of harm to another individual.

Therapeutic roles and forensic assessments are often regarded incompatible. Psychotherapists aim at ensuring that the patient receives treatment (Erickson & Erickson, 2008). The psychotherapist involved in treatment provision acts as a patient’s advocate. Psychotherapists involved in treatment are generally aligned in favor of their patients. This is because they have a responsibility to safeguard the patient’s welfare. This becomes a major source of conflict due to the objective/evaluative divide. As an evaluator, the psychology professional is has a responsibility to be objective and to provide unbiased reports about the patient to the court. This brings about conflict of interest.

Some individual client factors may affect the prelease decisions that psychology professionals make regarding clients. Certain factors such as the ability to maintain good discipline within the institution may limit the days of stay in the correctional facility. Another factor is the type of prognosis given during supervision, which may largely depend on the client’s attitude. Another important factor is the risk of future crime behavior among the client. If there is a high risk that the client may engage in criminal behavior in future, the period of stay in the correctional facility may be extended. Lastly, the psychological professional examines whether treatment outcomes were achieved during the session (Farabee, Knight, Garner, & Calhoun, 2007).


Behnke, S. (2004). Multiple relationships and APA’s new ethics code: values and applications.    American Psychological Association, 35(1): 66.

Erickson, P. E., & Erickson, S. K. (2008). Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness : Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Farabee, D., Knight, K., Garner, B. R., & Calhoun, S. (2007). The inmate prerelease assessment for reentry planning. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(9): 1188-1197.


Legal Requirements in Texas

Custody Evaluation


Assignment 2: Custody Evaluation

Forensic professionals are often called upon to provide opinions about custody in cases of divorce, parental termination, and reestablishment of custody after a child has been removed from the custodial parent’s home. Specific ethical and legal parameters govern when and how a professional should offer such an opinion in a legal setting. For this assignment, you will be asked to provide an analysis of factors relevant to custody evaluations or evaluations for termination of parental rights.


In a 3- to 4-page paper, address the following:

The best interests of the child, with a specific focus on how this is defined in the APA guidelines

The manner in which the best-interest decisions are influenced by the wishes of the child

The difference between a fact and an expert witness in the cases of child custody

The specific procedures, including parent interviews, child interviews, observations, and objective tests, used in custody evaluations

The issues surrounding confidentiality, privilege, and privacy in custody evaluations

The court testimony in custody evaluations, with emphasis on the collective use of data and opinion versus fact in reporting the results

Sample paper

Custody Evaluation

When making custody decisions, the professionals involved ensure they put into consideration the best interests of the child. This phrase refers to the nature of the decision that the court takes while making decisions concerning child custody. This phrase specifically refers to the best decisions, services and actions that can best take care of the child’s needs (“American Psychological Association (APA),” (2010). Thus, while making custodial decisions the court must evaluate the best alternative that serves the child’s psychological needs. With regard to this, the court must examine a number of factors before making the final decision. Some of these factors include the physical, educational, and psychological needs of the child. Other key factors to consider are the aptitudes and challenges of the various parties involved. The environmental and cultural factors of the various parties also significantly influence the custody decisions (“APA,” 2010). Lastly, it is important to consider factors such as family dynamics.

While making custodial decisions, judges often rely on various factors such as the ability of each parent to cater financially to the child, the nature of relationship between the child and each parent, the child’s wishes, and among other factors. The wishes of the child have a great influence on the best-interest decisions. Judges are required to consider the best interests of the child before making placement or custody decisions (“Child Welfare Information Gateway,” 2016). However, this depends on the age of the child. Typically, an older child with the ability to make his/her own decisions has a better chance of influencing the best-interest decisions. When the child is old enough to make own decisions, the judge considers his wishes along with various factors to come up with the best decision.

Fact witness and expert witness are different by the manner of which they provide evidence in matters involving child custody. A fact witness may be a forensic psychologist or any other individual who harbors personal knowledge about the events surrounding the case. A fact witness gives testimony about the things he/she have personally witnessed. A fact witness does not offer opinions, but only provides an account of the personal observations made. On the other hand, the expert witness is a specialist in psychology, medicine, or other fields who offers opinion in order to help the judge make correct decision. The major role of the expert witness is to assist the judge make sound decisions by providing technical knowledge relating to the case.

Specific procedures are used in child custody evaluations to establish the best interests of the child. Parent interviews are conducted separately among each parent. During the interview, the life history of the individual is collected as well as mental examination to ascertain the mental health status of each parent (Jaffe & Mandeleew, 2011). Parent interview also focuses on examining issues such as discipline, the ability to understand and cater towards child needs, specific parenting strengths and weaknesses, and other issues. Child interviews focus on examining the expressive abilities and reasoning capabilities of the child. Parent-child observations help in determining the nature of relationship between each parent and the child. Objective tests are psychological tests that help examine personal characteristics of each parent. Other specific procedures include objective personality tests, the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-IV), projective personality tests, and others (Jaffe & Mandeleew, 2011). These tests are designed to measure the emotional stability of an individual.

Child custody evaluators must ensure that all information remains confidential through proper record-keeping practices. Evaluators must create and maintain records for purpose of future reference. The evaluators are required to take care of their records in order to prevent destruction or loss of the records. The psychology professional and the client must maintain privilege throughout the entire session. The client has specific rights or privilege to confidentiality, which the psychology professional must uphold at all times. Privilege may however vary depending on the role of the individuals concerned – that is, whether a person is an expert witness, a therapist, or fact witness. These groups have different privilege levels. Privilege also varies between states. For instance, California does not accord waiver of privilege to those involved in child custody litigation.

Privacy depends on the role of the individuals involved in child custody evaluation. The psychology professional will often listen to concerns raised by the parent. In such a situation, the psychology professional will most likely take the word of the mouth without deeper investigations. The psychology professional should not disclose doubts or insecurities raised by the parent in court without the permission of the parent. It is important to avoid saying things that an individual may not wish they are revealed to the ex-spouse. The psychologist professional cannot make a negative comment about a client that he/she is representing in court.

Judges often prefer to use in-court testimony rather than written reports in child custody evaluation. The collective use of data to form an opinion is also common. Test data should not be discussed with the client to avoid influencing the results (Quinnell & Bow, 2001). The use of test data helps address specific issues such as assessing the parents’ mental health status and analyzing the parent-child relationship. Psychological testing provides a strong psychological foundation for basing child custody decisions. While relying on facts, courts require individuals to go beyond a “preponderance of evidence” and provide concrete evidence to support their claims. This may be difficult to prove among most individuals, leading to problems in helping provide the best interests of the child.


American Psychological Association (APA). (2010). Guidelines for child custody evaluations in family law proceedings. Retrieved from        custody.pdf

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Determining the best interests of the child.   Retrieved from

Jaffe, A. M., & Mandeleew, D. (2011). Essentials of a forensic child custody evaluation. ABA.     Retrieved from            rea_e_newsletter_home/2011_spring/forensic_custody_evaluation.html

Quinnell, F. A., & Bow, J. N. (2001). Psychological tests used in child custody evaluations.         Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 19: 491-501.


Legal Requirements in Texas

Forensic Assessment Report Writing


Assignment 1: Forensic Assessment Report Writing

Evaluation report writing is an essential component of a psychology professional’s work with clients in the legal system. The results of evaluations have to be reported accurately to third parties and have to be written in a clear and plain language that reflects the information obtained from all relevant sources, including the evaluator’s subjective opinion, the collateral information, and the objective test data. Accurate reporting of information to courts is crucial since it will potentially have great influence on the outcomes of the relevant legal proceedings.


Using your textbook and the Argosy University online library resources, discuss how you would write (in about 350 words) and present a risk assessment to the parole board, considering the following:

The influence of the Daubert Standard on the written report

The concept of reasonable certainty in reporting objective and subjective data in the report

The importance of basing results of the assessment on normative data

The reporting of client’s response styles during the assessment

Your preparedness to conduct a peer review of the written risk assessment

Sample paper

Forensic Assessment Report Writing

The Daubert Standard would have a strong influence on the writing of the report. It is important to note that forensic psychology professionals play a critical role as primary sources for professional information. The Daubert Standard influences the written report in that it requires the report to have an adequate scientific backing coupled by reliability of the report and relevance with regard to the legal issues raised in the court (Woody, 2016). In examining the written report, judges must evaluate whether the theory and principles applied are testable and whether the scientific community accepts the methods.

It is important to ensure that there is reasonable certainty in writing the report with regard to the nature of data used. The written report significantly determines the outcome of the hearing if adopted by the court. The forensic professional should reveal all details of the evaluation, including the limitations faced during the analysis. The forensic psychology professional should ensure that the report is objective in order to facilitate fair decision-making. The forensic psychology professional should rely on normative data to draw conclusions. Normative data is derived from large and randomly selected samples obtained from the general population. Normative data seeks to describe phenomena, rather than explaining the phenomena as it occurs. Normative assessments can help forensic professionals in comparing the behavior of individual to that of a group.

The forensic psychology professional should report client’s responses in order to enhance the aspects of corroborated information. Reporting of the client’s responses ensures that there is collateral information rather than merely relying on assertions made by the examinee. Reporting of the response styles ensures that there is collateral information available that can be used to reach a conclusive decision with regard to the issue at hand. It also helps in affirming that the professional conducted a personal examination of the client (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006).

As a forensic psychology professional, one should be able to conduct a peer review of the written risk assessment. Conducting a peer review helps in ensuring that the procedures and methods used are supported by current scientific approaches and in establishing theories that may be applicable in future scenarios (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 1997). A peer review may also entail involving various peers that may help streamline the report in case of errors. This helps in ensuring accountability and adding credibility to the written risk assessment. Peer review will thus be conducted by consulting the various partners in the scientific community involved in clinical and forensic work.


Woody, R. H. (2016). Psychological testimony and the daubert standard. Psychological Injury     and Law, 9(2), 91-96. doi:10.1007/s12207-016-9255-5

Kalmbach, K. C., & Lyons, P. M. (2006). Ethical issues in conducting forensic evaluations.          Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2(3): 2-30. Retrieved from   

Melton, G. B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (1997). Psychological Evaluations for            the Courts — A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers, 2nd Edition.            Guilford Press.


Legal Requirements in Texas

Legal Requirements in Texas


Assignment 2: RA 1: Legal Requirements

The insanity defense is as old as it is controversial. There are times when insanity truly applies and times when it is not easy to determine. In either case, the documentation of services provided to these clients is typically heavily scrutinized by attorneys since documentation is the primary means used by courts to measure insanity as it meets legal standards. This assignment will allow you to examine the legal standards for insanity in your jurisdiction in addition to the requirements for the documentation of services provided to these individuals.


Search your state and regulatory boards, professional associations, state psychology boards, and state psychological associations. Use resources from professional literature to support your response. Professional literature may include relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, and .gov).

Write a 3- to 4-page paper, including the following:

What are the legal requirements in your jurisdiction regarding the documentation of services provided by a forensic psychology professional? If not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity (NGRI) and guilty-but-mentally-ill (GBMI) evaluations are not recognized by your jurisdiction, review the legal requirements in a jurisdiction where they are the standard.

What are the specific laws and rules regarding the documentation of psychological services?

What are the differences between the requirements for clinical work and the requirements for forensic work, if any?

What standards are used in your jurisdiction for an insanity plea?

Do the insanity standards identify mental disease or defect with any exclusions, such as substance use? Explain.

How do the standards in your jurisdiction contrast with the standards presented in your course textbooks?

Do the insanity laws specify the presence of cognitive or volitional impairment as a threshold requirement to meet insanity? Provide brief examples.

Sample paper

Legal Requirements in Texas

In Texas, the legal requirements relating to the documentation of services provided by forensic psychology professionals call for the maintenance of accurate records in the professional practice. With regard to this, forensic psychology professionals are expected to maintain higher practice standards compared to other professionals in general practice (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). The legal requirements in Texas is that forensic psychology professionals must maintain all notes, recordings, documentation, tests and other materials used to reach an opinion. The state of Texas recognizes the not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity (NGRI) and guilty-but-mentally-ill (GBMI) standards. In Texas, the M’Naghten Rule is applied. Evaluation is conducted using the Irresistible Impulse Test, while the burden of proof rests on the defendant.

Various specific laws and rules guide documentation of psychological services in Texas. The law requires forensic psychology professionals to document or take notes of their mental health patients for further reference. Chapter 611 of the Mental Health Records in Texas provides guidelines about documentation of mental health records in the state. Sec. 611.002 require that the forensic psychology professional keeps confidential the information obtained in the encounter with the patient. Records involving evaluation, treatment of the patient, diagnosis, and identify should remain confidential (Health and Safety Code, n.d). Chapter 611 also gives patients and their legally recognized representatives the right to access their mental health records kept by the professional.

Disclosure of confidential records is provided for in sections 611.004 and 611.0045. These sections provide that the professional may only disclose confidential information to law enforcement personnel, government agency, in case of a medical request, to an agent of the professional, to the patient’s representative, and other approved persons. Section 611.003 provides that the patient or other persons acting on behalf of the patient may claim the confidentiality of the results. Section 611.005 offers legal remedies in case of improver disclosure of confidential information by the forensic psychology professional. The aggrieved party can sue for damages in a civil court. Section 611.007 provides for revocation of disclosure consent by either the patient or legally recognized representative of the patient (Health and Safety Code, n.d).

There are significant differences in requirements for clinical work and those for forensic work. The major difference arises from the fact that in clinical work, the client is the same individual who presents himself for treatment. In forensic work, however, the client is not the same person who presents self for treatment (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). The latter brings about issues to do with informed consent and disclosure. In clinical work, confidentiality is limited to circumstances where there is need to report findings to a legal authority, where third parties have legal right to access information, and in situations where the client authorizes the sharing of the information obtained (Texas Department of State Health Services, 2011). Forensic psychology professionals are expected to maintain high ethical standards while performing their duties. These professionals must always give key attention to confidentiality, legally recognized recipients of the information, and role clarification. In forensic work, the professional should ensure that the patient understands fully the disclosure provided. In case that the defendant does not understand, this should be included in the final report. Informed consent may be given by a third party in case the patient is not able to do so.

The state of Texas applies a number of standards to guide an insanity plea. Article 46c.051 provides that a defendant who wishes to raise an insanity plea must do so at least 20 days before the hearing date (Code of criminal procedure, n.d). The defendant must file a copy with the attorney general of the state. Article 46c.101 provides that the court, based on the fulfillment of the aforementioned article, shall appoint a non-partisan professional to examine the insanity of the defendant. Texas also outlines the minimum requirements for professionals involved in examining the defendant. Article 46c.102 requires that the professional must be licensed with the appropriate bodies, have appropriate certification, and relevant experience in the field. The defendant must submit to examination, failure to which disciplinary measures may be taken. Article 46c.105 mandates the professional to submit a written report of the examination and including the procedures applied in conducting the examination (Code of criminal procedure, n.d). Basing on the evidence provided, the judge may give a guilty verdict, a not guilty verdict, or a not guilty because of insanity verdict. A ‘not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict is given when the defense provides evidence that the accused committed the offense while insane. In such a case, the court may give community-based treatment option with mandatory supervision.

The insanity standards in Texas identify mental illness and mental retardation by clearly defining their meaning and exclusions they have. Mental illness is defined as an “illness, disease, or condition, other than epilepsy, dementia, substance abuse, or intellectual disability” that can significantly alter the normal cognitive functioning of an individual (Health and Safety Code, n.d). Clearly, this definition excludes substance abuse, epilepsy, and intellectual abuse from the definition of insanity. As such, one may not claim an insanity plea if the behavior was drug-induced. Mental retardation is defined as intellectual disability, which is one of the exclusions under Texas insanity standards.

The standards in Texas have no significant difference from those presented in course textbooks. Texas standards allow the defendant to claim a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. According to Erickson and Erickson S., (2008), defendants in the U.S. can enter into a plea of not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity where insanity is the main cause of the behavior. The standards are also similar in that insanity resulting from use of drugs is not recognized as credible reason for entering a plea of not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity. Moreover, the defendant must be competent to stand trial in case charges are brought against him/her. This is the same case in Texas, where psychiatrists examine defendants for mental illness.

Texas laws clearly specify the presence of cognitive impairment as a threshold requirement with regard to insanity. The law specifies various cognitive impairments that may affect an individual such as impairments to the thought process, impairment to judgment, misperceptions of reality, impairment of thought process, and behavior impairment. In case of volitional impairment, the law may disregard an insanity claim by the defendant. The mental health of the individual must be carefully examined following outlined procedures and protocols. In addition, a qualified professional is required to examine the mental health of the defendant in order for a claim of insanity to pass.


Code of criminal procedure. (n.d). Insanity defense. Retrieved from   

Erickson, P. E., & Erickson, S. K. (2008). Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness : Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Health and Safety Code. (n.d). Retrieved from   

Kalmbach, K. C., & Lyons, P. M. (2006). Ethical issues in conducting forensic evaluations.          Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 2(3): 2-30. Retrieved from   

Texas Department of State Health Services. (2011). Rules relating to the licensing and regulation            of social workers. Retrieved from sw_rules.pdf


Forensic Psychology Professional in Capital Punishment Sentencing

Forensic Psychology Professional in Capital Punishment Sentencing


Assignment 1: Case Study Analysis

Case Study: The Role of the Forensic Psychology Professional in Capital Punishment Sentencing

Mr. Fryer has a long history of psychiatric hospitalizations related to his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. His delusions revolve around the belief in uniformed spies who have been sent to execute him. He reports auditory and visual hallucinations when not on his medication. He was arrested for trespassing after he was found sleeping in the delivery shed of a warehouse.

During his stay in jail, he was put on antipsychotic medications, and he was released with time served after spending fifty-four days in the jail. Upon his release, he returned to live on the streets and stopped taking his medications. While sleeping on a park’s bench, he was assaulted by several youths, who hit and kicked him. Although his assailants left him on the ground with no serious injuries, Mr. Fryer was convinced that the juveniles who assaulted him were spies who would return to assassinate him.

He found a seventeen-inch pipe to use as a defensive weapon, and, fearing for his life, he hid in the shadows the remainder of the evening. In the morning, he saw two uniformed youths approaching him. A twelve-year-old boy and his fourteen-year-old brother were on their way to a Boy Scout meeting. Mr. Fryer ran up behind the boys and started swinging the pipe wildly, screaming they would never take him alive. He struck the twelve-year-old boy on the head, causing him severe brain trauma. The fourteen-year-old boy was able to flee but only after receiving a blow on the face. Mr. Fryer returned to the twelve-year-old boy and bludgeoned him to death.

He was still hitting the lifeless body when the police arrived. As soon as the police car pulled up, he dropped the pipe and sat in silence as he was subdued. He was determined by the court to be not competent to stand trial and was committed to a state hospital for restoration of competence. After eight months of pharmacological treatment, he was determined by the court to be competent to stand trial and was subsequently tried and convicted of capital murder.

The following are the mitigating circumstances in this case:

At the time of the offense, Mr. Fryer was under extreme emotional and mental distress.

At the time of the offense, Mr. Fryer was substantially unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his act or conform his actions to the requirements of the law.

The following are the aggravating circumstances in this case:

The crime was committed in a wanton, atrocious, and cruel manner.

Mr. Fryer is likely to commit criminal acts in the future.


Respond to the following points in a minimum of 250 words:

You are hired by the defense to assist in the sentencing phase. Analyze the case study and address the following:

How should you proceed? Provide reasons to support your answer.

What roles do the mitigating and aggravating circumstances play in capital sentencing?

What issues will you address as a forensic psychology professional?

How will you support your opinion in front of the court? Provide examples and references.

How would you prepare for direct examinations and cross-examinations?

Sample paper

Forensic Psychology Professional in Capital Punishment Sentencing

The law prohibits the application of capital punishment to individuals with mental disorders, as exemplified in the Atkins v. Virginia (2002) ruling. In this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was wrong to prescribe capital punishment to individuals with severe mental health issues since it contravenes the Eighth Amendment (Gillespie, Smith, Bjerregaard, & Fogel, 2014). It is worth noting that people suffering from severe mental disorders may commit crimes without the understanding of the magnitude of their actions. However, concerns remain over the death penalty sentence in people who are mentally retarded. This paper examines the role of a forensic counselling professional in capital punishment sentencing.

In the case of Mr. Fryer, I would proceed by arguing that his mental condition is solely to attribute for his recent actions, and that with proper medication, his condition can be controlled. It is clear that Mr. Fryer’s condition worsens when he is not on medication. Thus, it is imperative to ensure that Mr. Fryer remains on medication by putting him on a mental health facility rather than in prison. In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Supreme Court ruled against execution of mentally retarded individuals (Gillespie, Smith, Bjerregaard, & Fogel, 2014). The main purpose of this ruling is because mentally ill individuals are regarded less culpable of their actions. As such, their actions do not merit capital punishment. The main purpose of capital punishment is that it acts as deterrence or retribution. In this case, however, there may be no retribution since Mr. Fryer could not substantially appreciate the wrongfulness of his act. Thus, it would not be right to convict Mr. Fryer of capital punishment since at the time of committing offence, he was mentally ill.

Mitigating and aggravating circumstances play a critical role in capital punishment. Mitigation leads to reduced charges for the defendant. According to Gillespie, Smith, Bjerregaard, and Fogel, (2014), mitigation has three main functions in capital punishment – first, it helps to certify the general good conduct of the accused. Second, mitigation helps in proving that the defendant does not pose future danger. Lastly, it helps in reducing the culpability of the defendant concerning the crime he/she is accused of committing. Most of the mitigating factors revolve around culpability. In this, one may argue that the defendant lacks control of his actions, or is unable to appreciate the consequences of his actions. Aggravating circumstances are those that lead to stiffer penalty for the defendant. For instance, the likelihood that the defendant will commit crimes in future is an aggravating circumstance and can lead to stiffer penalty.

As a forensic psychology professional, I will address a number of issues. First, I will address the issue of the defendant’s sanity and competency. It is important to establish whether the defendant actually suffers from any form of mental illness and the severity of the same (Fabian, 2003). Second, I will address the issue of future likelihood of committing crimes. Third, it is imperative to address the defendant’s mental status at the time of committing crime. Lastly, I will address the issue of risk populations with regard to the defendant’s condition. Risk populations are the individuals at risk due to the defendant’s current mental condition.

I will support my opinion in court by examining the criminal history of the defendant. If the defendant has a clean record, then it is clear that his mental illness is solely to attribute for his actions. The background and history of the offender is critical in determining the outcomes of the case. If the offender lacks a significant history of crime, then the court may give a favorable judgment. I will also support my opinion basing on the circumstances of the defendant’s action. Since the defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, his delusions are likely the cause of his actions. Mr. Fryer could not be able to control the delusions.

I would prepare for direct examinations and cross-examinations by using acceptable scientific procedures or methodology. The first step is to ensure that all forms of examination conform to the Daubert’s standard. For instance, it is important to ensure that the examinations utilize proven scientific methods and robust data. As such, it is imperative to use a method that is supported by peer-reviewed studies.


Fabian, J. (2003). Death penalty mitigation and the role of the forensic psychologist. Law and      Psychology Review. Retrieved from            content/uploads/2011/11/alabama_death_penalty.pdf

Gillespie, L. K., Smith, M. D., Bjerregaard, B., & Fogel, S. J. (2014). Examining the impact of    proximate culpability mitigation in capital punishment sentencing recommendations: The      influence of mental health mitigators. American Journal of Criminal Justice :   AJCJ, 39(4), 698-715. doi:          9255-5


Case Study Analysis-Guilty or Not Guilty: Does It Matter?

Court Standards


Assignment 2: Court Standards


Explore court standards, rules, and regulations and the differences among them for selecting and approving professional witnesses and determining admissibility of expert testimony. Use resources from professional literature and conduct research to support your responses. Professional literature may include relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, and .gov).

Write a 3- to 4-page paper, including the following:

What standards are used by courts to determine who is an expert witness?

What standards are used by courts to determine the admissibility of expert testimony?

What are the differences between standards for sentencing, commitment, and competencies in civil and criminal courts?

Sample paper

Court Standards


The origin of the use of expert witness in courts is traced to England courts. The first notable case involves Folkes v Chadd in 1782. In this case, the court relied upon expert witness to determine whether the demolition of a sea bank had a direct influence on the decay rate of the harbor (Horne & Mullen, 2013). Since then, courts all over the world have relied on expert witness to make key decisions. Drawing on the above, expert witness involves the use of interpretive opinion provided by an expert in a particular field to serve as evidence in the criminal justice system. Expert witness helps in the decision-making process, especially where the judges lack relevant knowledge on a particular subject matter. This paper examines the standards of witness, admissibility of expert testimony, and the differences between standards used in sentencing, commitment, and the key competencies in civil as well as criminal courts.

Standards used by Courts to Determine an Expert Witness

The courts outline specific standards to determine who can qualify as an expert witness and thus assist in the decision making process (Horne & Mullen, 2013). An expert witness should have sound knowledge of the area that he/she is required to provide evidence. The expert witness should have a good understanding of the different viewpoints and the merits and demerits associated with each. A related standard to the above is the ability to understand the issue under contention. An expert witness is not only evaluated basing on academic qualifications, but also on his ability to apply knowledge. An expert witness should be able to express himself or herself eloquently. The expert witness should be able to express facts in an understandable and meaningful manner. Another important standard is social interactionism. A good expert witness should be a team player (Horne & Mullen, 2013). This is important because often, the expert witness is required to interact with members while conducting analysis.

The court may determine an expert witness basing on professionalism. The expert witness should be able to present facts in a professional manner. The expert witness should be able to apply the professional codes of conduct and observe various rules while dealing with a particular situation. The courts may determine an expert witness basing on clarity of thought and expression. A good expert witness should be able to clearly explain the facts of the case in writing and orally. Another standard applied relates to conflicts of interest. A good expert witness should not have any conflicts of interest to the matter at hand (Erickson & Grise, 2013). Lastly, it is imperative that a good expert witness should pull through a ‘Daubert’ motion. The Daubert standard is used to examine a number of things relating to the scientific inquiry, such as methods of data collection, potential errors, and theory applied (Erickson & Grise, 2013).

 The admissibility of expert testimony

The admissibility of expert testimony in court is under the discretion of the court judge presiding over a particular case. The court judge examines a number of issues in establishing the admissibility of expert evidence. Key among these is whether expert testimony adheres to the Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which came into effect in December 2000 (“Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA),” n.d). The Federal Rule of Evidence 702 allows judges to act as “gatekeepers” in determining whether expert testimony is admissible in the court of law. This rule includes the amendment that gives judges the power to admit technical and scientific evidence basing on the changes highlighted in ‘Daubert v. Merrell Dow’ and ‘Kumho Tire’ cases in 1993 and 1999 respectively (“MSBA,” n.d). Court judges are required to evaluate expert witnesses and determine whether they are qualified to give expert testimony.

The Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides four fundamental standards that guide judges when evaluating the nature of expert testimony (“MSBA,” n.d). According to this rule, the expert witness must be duly qualified in the area of interest. As such, the expert witness must have the necessary educational qualifications, knowledge, skills, and experience in the area he/she opts to testify. The second standard requires that the testimony given be based on sufficient facts and data. Thus, the expert witness should apply factual details in examining the situation. Third, the expert witness should apply relevant scientific methods and principles in evaluating details of the case. The expert witness must follow due procedures in examining the details of a particular case. The last standard dictates that the expert witness must apply the principles and methods in a reliable manner to the facts established in the case (“MSBA,” n.d). These standards establish the criteria to follow in assessing the admissibility of expert testimony in criminal proceedings.

Differences between standards for sentencing, commitment, and competencies in civil and criminal courts.

Key differences exist between civil and criminal courts. In civil courts, one party or the plaintiff brings a complaint against another party or the defendant. On the other hand, the government brings a legal suit against a person in a criminal court. A key difference exists in sentencing. In civil courts, a ‘preponderance of evidence’ is enough to have the defendant convicted, while in criminal courts, the reasonable doubt clause applies in deciding the case. In criminal courts, the punishment meted out to guilty individuals is in form of incarceration, fines, or in extreme cases execution. In civil courts, the defendant does not face the death penalty and neither a jail sentence (“Findlaw,” n.d). The courts in this case hands monetary relief to the plaintiff or equitable relief where the court orders the defendant to refrain from doing something.

In conclusion, court judges often rely on expert testimony to base their decisions in criminal proceedings. This is because court judges lack relevant knowledge in particular areas. However, court judges have the discretion to evaluate expert testimony and determine whether it is admissible in the court of law. The Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides four fundamental standards that guide judges when evaluating the nature of expert testimony.


Erickson, D. R., & Grise, L. R. (2013). Best practices – working with experts. ABA. Retrieved     from               sac_2013/52_%20best_practices_for_working_events.authcheckdam.pdf

Findlaw. (n.d). Civil cases vs. criminal cases – key differences. Retrieved from          differences.html

Horne, R., & Mullen, J. (2013). Expert Witness in Construction (1). Somerset, GB: Wiley-           Blackwell. Retrieved from

Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA). (n.d). Admissibility of exert testimony in Federal         Courts. Retrieved from               /Expert%20Witness%20Admissibility%20Federal%20Courts.pdf


Forensic Psychology Professional in Capital Punishment Sentencing


Case Study Analysis-Guilty or Not Guilty: Does It Matter?


Assignment 1: Case Study Analysis

Case Study: Guilty or Not Guilty: Does It Matter?

Dr. Jennifer Bauer has been asked by the defense attorney to assist in jury selection. The defendant is a battered wife who has been accused of murdering her abusive husband one night when he was drunk and became verbally abusive.

The defense attorney has also hired a prominent psychiatrist who has suggested that the defense attorney use the battered woman syndrome as a defense strategy. Dr. Bauer thinks that this is a poor decision since the syndrome evidence has not been very successful in court cases, and she believes that the argument would be more successful using posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a defense. However, she was hired to assist in jury selection and not to help develop the defense strategy. Additionally, the psychiatrist retained by the attorney has developed a career arguing the syndrome evidence in courts and is not very receptive to criticism.

Dr. Bauer reads through the discovery materials, including the evidence provided by the defense and the prosecution. Despite her empathy for battered women, Dr. Bauer feels that the weak defense strategy along with the strong evidence against the defendant will lead to a guilty verdict for the defendant.

During the voir dire process, Dr. Bauer decides that many of the potential jurors are not sympathetic toward the defendant. She decides that the only possibility is to hope for a mistrial by employing the poison pill strategy. She hopes to select jurors whose strong personality differences make them clash so much during the deliberations that they are unable to come to a unanimous verdict.


In a minimum of 250 words, analyze the case study and address the following:

How should Dr. Bauer proceed? Provide reasons to support your answer.

Should she offer her advice regarding the syndrome evidence? Why or why not?

Should she pursue the poison pill strategy? Why or why not?

Sample paper

Case Study Analysis-Guilty or Not Guilty: Does It Matter?

Question 1

Given the fact that the doctor has more knowledge and skills regarding such cases, he should advise the defendant’s and her team to change their strategy to posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a mental disorder that is likely to develop when an individual is exposed to a traumatic event such as sexual assault. In our case, the doctor can try to defend the defendant by simply stating that she had PTSD after having a fight with her drunken husband because it matters to the jury and because this will ensure that an innocent woman is not wrongly convicted (Shiromani, 2014).

Question 2

Being a professional as well as a worker in the court, she has the sole responsibility of respecting and observing the code of conduct which advocates for honesty, truth, justice, and fairness. As a result, she should not sit back and watch an innocent woman rot in jail or prison while she would have simply provided the evidence to save her life. As a result, she should give her advice to the court, especially to the defendant counsel on the best strategy to use.

Question 3

The doctor should pursue the poison pill strategy to save the life of the defendant.  The poison pill strategy is a technique used by individuals and organizations to make their strategies or technique less attractive and appropriate for the attack and scrutiny from other individuals. As a result, by implementing this strategy, the doctor will take away the attention of the defendant and direct it to the facts of the case and thus save her from being thrown in prison (Lie, 2015).


Lie, E. &. (2015). The Effect of Poison Pill Adoptions and Court Rulings on Firm Entrenchment.

Shiromani, P. K. (2014). Post-traumatic stress disorder. . Humana.


Clinical and Forensic Assessment