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Clinical experience is critical to most cases. The psychiatrist is hired primarily for his or her ability to clarify the psychological and medical issues of a case, not to interpret legal ones. This does not mean that the forensic psychiatrist must have a large clinical practice, but some contact with clinical care and/or medical teaching is relevant to most (especially civil) cases.
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Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts are often tempted to skew their diagnostic views as well. Lawyers can be very persuasive, and litigants can appear deserving even when the facts don't support their cases. Clinical professionals with limited forensic training or experience are particularly vulnerable to misusing the DSM in forensic settings. That's where the DSM-5 "Cautionary Statement for Forensic Use" comes in. The text speaks for itself:
It happens to psychiatrists and psychologists, too, of course. We all dread missing things like brain tumors and treatable pseudodementias. Sometimes a general medical referral is sufficient, but we shouldn't always assume that a screening consultation rules out "organic" illness. We should be especially careful if a patient's "psychosomatic" condition doesn't improve, or gets worse. One of my early forensic cases illustrates the point:
Course 1: Orientation to Forensic Rehabilitation Consultation
Forensic Care Management services are provided to individuals with a psychiatric disorder who are transitioning into the community following incarceration.
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During this 90-minute program, the speakers will provide the audience with a foundational understanding of case management and how it is most commonly applied at both community/technical colleges, as well as four year institutions. There will be a discussion of the key departments to which case managers connect students around campus and how to overcome potential barriers to collaboration. They will also cover the various restrictions found in the common laws and guidelines governing communication (FERPA, HIPAA, state confidentiality law, etc).
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A good and ethical forensic clinician, either psychologist or psychiatrist, should not work or give opinions outside his or her areas of expertise and experience, should be forthcoming about his or her limitations, and should refer the attorney or court elsewhere as necessary for the case. Physicians take a particular oath and train a bit longer than clinical psychologists, but most clinical psychologists concentrate on the mind for as many years as psychiatrists (albeit sometimes in different ways). Both professions have strong ethical and professional obligations which are enforced by their professional organizations and licensing agencies.
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One-stop access to vital resources like Professional Standards, FVS Practice Aids, AICPA Accounting & Valuation Guides, Practice Management Tools and Templates, and more. This Library is a powerful research tool that gives you access to the most comprehensive, up-to-date forensic accounting and valuation information available in a searchable, web-based format. Free for FVS/CFF/ABV members (savings of $250).
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Credibility is the foundation of psychiatric expert testimony and forensic work in other other fields. Judicious regulation, forensic experience, working with good lawyers, solid qualifications, scrupulous ethics, and openness to peer review all help protect respectable experts from being accused of professional impropriety, and from contributing to unfair judgements and case resolutions.