PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS IN CHILD CUSTODY AND DEPENDENCY CASES A PRIMER FOR ATTORNEYS DANIEL P. TRESSLER, PSY.D.
PSYCHOLOGIST • Non-medical doctoral practitioner trained in diagnosis and non-medical treatment of mental disorders, including major mental illness. • Degrees: Ph.D. Psy.D. Ed.D. • Uniquely trained in the use of psychological tests in the measurement of behavior as part of a Psychological Evaluation. • Professional Designation: Licensed Psychologist.
CAVEAT EMPTOR • Beware of non-licensed personnel in agencies doing “counseling” or “therapy”. • Beware of non-psychologists calling themselves psychologists. • Beware of persons who are not psychologists calling what they do “Psychological Evaluation”. • If not licensed, one is not a Psychologist. • If not by a Psychologist, it’s not a psychological evaluation.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICESWHAT AND WHO • COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY • PYCHOSOCIAL EVALUATION • PYCHIATRIC EVALUATION • PHARMACOTHERAPY • PYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION • Not just an evaluation done by a psychologist. • A systematic assessment of an individual’s emotional, intellectual and behavioral functioning. • Usually intended to answer a specific question or issue, e.g.: • Ability to parent • Ability to protect • Diagnosis and treatment recommendations
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONDESIRED ELEMENTS • SPECIFIC REFERRAL QUESTION • Domestic Violence • Ability to care for child • Readiness for reunification • Chemical Dependency • Intellectual Capacity • Mental Illness
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONDESIRED ELEMENTS • PERSONAL HISTORY • Family History • Medical and Psychological History • Education and Employment • Alcohol and Drug Use • Legal History
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONDESIRED ELEMENTS • COLLATERAL INFORMATION • Dependency Petition • Judicial Review • Court Pleadings • Police Reports • Arrest Records • Medical/Psychological Records
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONFORMAL TESTING • WHAT IS A TEST? • A standardized procedure. • Published, peer-reviewed. • Able to be interpreted in a standard manner. • Could pass the Frey test.
PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONFORMAL TESTING • INFORMAL PROCEDURES • Interview • Life History Questionnaires • Observations
PROJECTIVES • RORSCHACH • Series of 10 “Inkblots” • Has several so-called scoring systems, not necessarily normed. • PROJECTIVE DRAWINGS • HTP, HFD, KFD • No real scoring system • Interpreted on basis of accepted clinical lore.
OBJECTIVE TESTS FOR CHILDREN • Personality Inventory for Children • Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale • RADS, RCDS • MMPI-A, MACI, MAPI, APS • Achenbach (ASEBA) Series • Child Behavior Checklist • Teacher Report Form • Youth Self-Report
THE BOTTOM LINEInterview Collateral Data Test Data\ /|\/Clinical Impression|\/Recommendations
CLINICAL IMPRESSION:DSM-IV • Axis I Acute Mental Illness/Syndrome • Axis II Personality Disorder • Mental Retardation • Axis III Medical Problems • Axis IV Psychosocial Stressors • Axis V Global Assessment of Functioning • 0-100 Scale