Georgia Vocational Evaluation Disability Evaluation Vocational Expert

Divorce, Veteran, LTD, SSA/SSI –

SouthEast Vocational Experts: Leaders in Forensic Mental Health & Vocational Evaluations.

Disability Evaluation process and procedures differ depending on the Venue as well as the issued involved in the case.

this will cover the major aspects – each case is different and therefore will have different needs, we do not have a one size fits all assessment process.

Disability Evaluation – Forensic VOCATIONAL EVALUATION  PROCESS

1) Document Review – General list:

Hospital, Physician, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, & Counselor records, Disability Forms.

2)  We Use Both a Structured and Unstructured Diagnostic  Vocational Interview

This will be a review of the Veteran’s history and will also outline the Veteran’s age, education, current work status, past work experience, skills, current medical & psychological impairment(s), treatments, and physical & psychological limitations.

(This can be in-person or through SKYPE)

3)  Assessment of Current Information and determining if more documentation is needed.

– If needed we will create Medical and/or Psychological Source forms and/or Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC), Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).  This will be the disabled individual or their Representative responsibility to get completed and returned to us.

4)  Vocational & Forensic Mental Health Evaluation (Psychometric Assessments) (most cases will require one or more tests)

Based on the case we will determine what assessments need to be completed. We will assess not only aptitudes but also may measure Attention, Concentration (ADHD), Memory, Cognitive Abilities, IQ, Mental Health / Psychiatric Measures (Depression, Bi-Polar, Acute Anxiety,  GAD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc.)

5)  Perform a Vocational Diagnostic Assessment of Residual Employability.

this includes a Transferable Skills Analysis

6)   Labor Market Research (if needed)

Private, local, state, and federal government labor market studies to determine if any significant number of jobs exist that the claimant can perform in the local and national labor market.

The results of the vocational evaluation enable the Vocational Expert to render an opinion as to the employability of the permanently injured veteran’s and their ability to perform substantial gainful work activity based on quantifiable, accurate, and current information using Veteran’s Disability standards.

SouthEast Vocational Experts and

Work Adaptability

What is Adaptability

Young man smilingAdaptability means being flexible when things change. An adaptable person is one who is open to new ideas and concepts, to working independently or as part of a team and to carrying out multiple tasks or projects. Someone is regarded as adaptable if they are able to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.

Adaptability is about:

  • Solving problems creatively – Adapting to novel situations or dynamic and changing situations frequently requires finding a solution for new and unfamiliar problems. A creative approach is best to solve the atypical, ill-defined and complex problems that confront today’s work situations and organizations.
  • Dealing with uncertain/unpredictable work situations – It may be necessary to demonstrate adaptability in relation to a wide variety of unpredictable and uncertain work situations which can result from many different factors, including such things as formal organizational restructuring, shifting business priorities, reductions or changes in available resources, or joining a new organization or group.
  • Learning new tasks, technologies and procedures – You may have to consider new ways to perform a job or learn different skill sets or tasks for a job or new career. Today’s employees are increasingly faced with technical innovation that is forcing them to learn new ways to perform their jobs. Workers can no longer expect to learn one job or one set of skills that will suit the needs of an entire career.
  • Interpersonal adaptability –  More fluid work environments, characterized by the shift from manufacturing-oriented businesses to service oriented businesses, have made interpersonal adaptability an important skill.
  • Cultural adaptability – The globalization of the business environment, coupled with the extent to which workers today change jobs and organizations, requires the ability to perform effectively in different cultures and environments.
  • Physically-oriented adaptability – Adapting quickly and effectively to different physical conditions, such as heat, noise, uncomfortable climates and difficult environments, is required in many different jobs, for example, environmental sciences, research jobs, foreign service jobs, law enforcement officers, expedition and travel-related jobs.

 

How to improve/demonstrate your adaptability:

  • Unpredictability – Adjust to, and deal with the unpredictable nature of situations. In situations where there is inherent uncertainty and ambiguity, take reasonable action to prepare for eventualities using a common sense approach.
  • Professional development – Plan for, and participate in your own professional development to prepare for anticipated future job requirements. Get informed and keep skilled up! Anticipate future employment needs and adapt to changing job requirements by learning new tasks, technologies, procedures and roles.
  • Flexibility – Shift your orientation or focus as efficiently and smoothly as possible when the situation demands. Adjust your interpersonal style to achieve goals whenever necessary; for example, step up to take on a leadership role or act supportively as a team member.
  • Effective team membership – Adapt your interpersonal behavior to work effectively with a new team, co-workers, or customers. Be flexible and responsive, be someone who can effectively anticipate and fulfil others, needs..
  • Understand and fit in with the culture – Understand the goals and values (formal rules and principles as well as unwritten, informal goals and values that govern behavior) of the organization you wish to work in. Understand the organization’s history (traditions, customs, myths, and rituals that convey cultural knowledge), and politics (formal and informal relationships and power structures within the culture). Successfully integrate into a new culture or environment by fully understanding and willingly behaving in accordance with the accepted customs, values, rules, and structures operating within it.

Adaptability can be affected by difficulties with the following ‘abilities’
(Impairments that may impact on the particular ‘ability’ are shown in brackets)

Click below to read about the effects of limited abilities on Adaptability as well as adjustments to practice/inclusive strategies.

 

Forensic Vocational Expert Services

Florida’s Vocational Expert Disability Evaluation

– Divorce, Veteran, LTD, SSA/SSI –

SouthEast Vocational Experts: Leaders in Forensic Mental Health & Vocational Evaluations.

Disability Evaluation process and procedures differ depending on the Venue as well as the issued involved in the case.

this will cover the major aspects – each case is different and therefore will have different needs, we do not have a one size fits all assessment process.

Disability Evaluation – Forensic VOCATIONAL EVALUATION  PROCESS

1) Document Review – General list:

Hospital, Physician, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, & Counselor records, Disability Forms.

2)  We Use Both a Structured and Unstructured Diagnostic  Vocational Interview

This will be a review of the Veteran’s history and will also outline the Veteran’s age, education, current work status, past work experience, skills, current medical & psychological impairment(s), treatments, and physical & psychological limitations.

(This can be in-person or through SKYPE)

3)  Assessment of Current Information and determining if more documentation is needed.

– If needed we will create Medical and/or Psychological Source forms and/or Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC), Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).  This will be the disabled individual or their Representative responsibility to get completed and returned to us.

4)  Vocational & Forensic Mental Health Evaluation (Psychometric Assessments) (most cases will require one or more tests)

Based on the case we will determine what assessments need to be completed. We will assess not only aptitudes but also may measure Attention, Concentration (ADHD), Memory, Cognitive Abilities, IQ, Mental Health / Psychiatric Measures (Depression, Bi-Polar, Acute Anxiety,  GAD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc.)

5)  Perform a Vocational Diagnostic Assessment of Residual Employability.

this includes a Transferable Skills Analysis

6)   Labor Market Research (if needed)

Private, local, state, and federal government labor market studies to determine if any significant number of jobs exist that the claimant can perform in the local and national labor market.

The results of the vocational evaluation enable the Vocational Expert to render an opinion as to the employability of the permanently injured veteran’s and their ability to perform substantial gainful work activity based on quantifiable, accurate, and current information using Veteran’s Disability standards.

Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Miami, Pensacola

Pre Pre Employment Test

Will Help you Hire the Right Person for your Team:

As Vocational Expert Professionals, we deal with many different kinds of people issues on a daily basis.  SouthEast Vocational Experts uses pre employment screening to help you hire the right person(s), the first time, so you are no longer stuck asking yourself “when are we going to get good people?” or “they looked so good on paper and sounded good in the interview, what did we miss?”

PRE EMPLOYMENT SCREENING  DOESN’T JUST SAVES TIME AND MONEY, IT INCREASES PROFITABILITY!

Every time an employee resigns you waste countless hours searching for a replacement. Employee turnover costs you serious training dollars, not to mention the cost of BAD HIRES. Pre employment screening will save you time and money so that your human resources department is not bogged down with personnel issues that could have been avoided.

PRE EMPLOYMENT TESTING HELPS YOU REDUCE COMMUNICATION & CONFLICT ISSUES

Pre employment testing will help you reduce the time you spend dealing with people issues. You can’t afford to spend half your day dealing with personnel issues. If you find that the people in your Human Resources Department are wasting their time solving personality conflicts or trying to “fix” your current employees then the success of your business is really at stake. Pre employment screening will help you choose employees that will make positive contributions to your business.

BASIC PRE EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TEST AREAS:

  • LAB Profile
  • Personality & Behavioral Assessments – See how well a candidate will fit the job before extending a hire offer
  • Skills Testing — Gauge a candidate’s true skill levels in a variety of applications
  • Background Checks — Keep your workplace safe, you can be sued if you hire a person with violent passed
  • Drug Screening — Ensure you promote a drug-free work environment

A Pre Employment Screening  Will Help You Improve Productivity and Profitability!

Using a pre employment screening test(s) will help you improve your company’s productivity and allow you to make your team more effective. Hiring the right sales people will mean that sales targets won’t be missed. When you hire the right people you can rest assured they won’t miss productivity targets.

Pre Employment  Screening Tests Will Help You Find Leaders

Employment tests will help you identify candidates that are natural born leaders so that they can use their leadership qualities to help improve your business. It’s a real problem when managers have to spend so much time dealing with people issues. We will provide you with information on employment screening so that you can:

  • Ensure your current managers are more effective
  • Avoid manager and employee personality conflicts
  • Identify the best potential leaders and then invest in their development.

Pre Employment Screening is Easy

We have helped companies to:

  • Hire to the right job fit every time to reduce turnover.
  • Hire an Individual with that right BEHAVIORAL Traits for the position
  • Learn how to Motivate current employees based on their Behavioral & Language Filters
  • Coach current employees to be more productive.

Strategic Workforce Planning through Pre Employment Screening

Pre Employment Screening or just getting a LAB Profile on current employees  will help you to build a high performance organization through the use of employee assessments and give you the ability to:

  • Hire the right people every time.
  • Reduce turnover costs and wasted training dollars every year.
  • Re-organize your company for bigger profits today.
  • Build high performance teams that produce maximum results.
  • Keep your top leadership people and make them highly effective.
  • Know where your bench strength is and identify the best leadership potential within.
  • Never hire a bottom performer again.
  • Maximize the potential of your current employees to improve profitability now.

Alabama Vocational Expert

– Divorce, Veteran, LTD, SSA/SSI –

SouthEast Vocational Experts: Leaders in Forensic Mental Health & Vocational Evaluations in Alabama.

Disability Evaluation process and procedures differ depending on the Venue as well as the issued involved in the case.

this will cover the major aspects – each case is different and therefore will have different needs, we do not have a one size fits all assessment process.

Disability Evaluation – Forensic VOCATIONAL EVALUATION  PROCESS

1) Document Review – General list:

Hospital, Physician, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, & Counselor records, Disability Forms.

2)  We Use Both a Structured and Unstructured Diagnostic  Vocational Interview

This will be a review of the Veteran’s history and will also outline the Veteran’s age, education, current work status, past work experience, skills, current medical & psychological impairment(s), treatments, and physical & psychological limitations.

(This can be in-person or through SKYPE)

3)  Assessment of Current Information and determining if more documentation is needed.

– If needed we will create Medical and/or Psychological Source forms and/or Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC), Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).  This will be the disabled individual or their Representative responsibility to get completed and returned to us.

4)  Vocational & Forensic Mental Health Evaluation (Psychometric Assessments) (most cases will require one or more tests)

Based on the case we will determine what assessments need to be completed. We will assess not only aptitudes but also may measure Attention, Concentration (ADHD), Memory, Cognitive Abilities, IQ, Mental Health / Psychiatric Measures (Depression, Bi-Polar, Acute Anxiety,  GAD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc.)

5)  Perform a Vocational Diagnostic Assessment of Residual Employability.

this includes a Transferable Skills Analysis

6)   Labor Market Research (if needed)

Private, local, state, and federal government labor market studies to determine if any significant number of jobs exist that the claimant can perform in the local and national labor market.

The results of the vocational evaluation enable the Vocational Expert to render an opinion as to the employability of the permanently injured veteran’s and their ability to perform substantial gainful work activity based on quantifiable, accurate, and current information using Veteran’s Disability standards. We provide services nationally as well as in Alabama and the South East.

Quick FACTS – Military Sexual Trauma – MST – PTSD

MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA
Disabilities determined by VA to be related to your military service can lead to monthly non-taxable compensation, enrollment in the
VA health care system, a 10-point hiring preference for federal employment and other important benefits. Ask your VA
representative or Veterans Service Organization representative about Disability Compensation, Pension, Health Care, Caregiver
Program, Career Services, Educational Assistance, Home Loan Guaranty, Insurance and/or Dependents and Survivors’ Benefits.
DISABILITY COMPENSATION FOR CONDITIONS RELATED TO
MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA (MST)
Disabilities determined by VA to be related to your military service can lead to monthly non-taxable compensation, enrollment in the VA health care system, a 10-point hiring preference for federal employment, and other important benefits. Ask your VA representative or Veterans Service
Organization representative about Disability Compensation, Pension, Health Care, Caregiver Program, Career Services, Educational Assistance, Home Loan Guaranty, Insurance and/or Dependents and Survivors Benefits. Some Veterans may have experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military. These kinds of experiences can affect Veterans’ mental and physical health, even many years later. Veterans can
apply for disability compensation for any current difficulties that are related to their service, including difficulties related to MST.

HOW DOES VA DEFINE MST?
MST is defined by Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D
as “psychological trauma resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.” Sexual harassment is defined as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”

ARE VETERANS GRANTED DISABILITY COMPENSATION FOR MST?
Veterans are not granted compensation for the traumatic event itself, but can be granted disability compensation for conditions that result from MST.  Compensation – April 2015
CAN YOU DEVELOP POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DIS ORDER (PTSD) OR OTHE R MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS AS A RESULT OF MST?
Yes. Exposure to any trauma can potentially result in PTSD or another mental health disorder. PTSD is the most common mental health diagnosis related to experiencing MST.
WHAT EVIDENCE CAN SU PPORT A DISABILITY C LAIM FOR PTSD AS A R ESULT OF MST?
Department of Defense forms used in reporting incidents of sexual assault or harassment, as well as investigative reports during military service are direct evidence to support these claims. However, VA knows that events involving sexual trauma are not always officially reported. Therefore, for PTSD claims related to MST VA has relaxed the evidentiary requirements and looks for “markers” (i.e., signs, events, or circumstances) that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened.
These include, but are not limited to:  Records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, or physicians Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases Statements from family members, roommates, fellow Servicemembers, clergy members, or counselors Requests for transfer to another military duty assignment. Deterioration in work performance Substance abuse. Episodes of depression, panic attacks, or anxiety without an identifiable cause.  Unexplained economic or social behavioral changes Relationship issues, such as divorce Sexual dysfunction
VA RELAXED THE STAND ARDS OF EVIDENCE FOR COMBAT RELATED PTSD. ARE T HE STANDARDS OF EVIDENC E FOR MST – RELATED PTSD CLAIMS MORE STRINGENT THAN OTHER PTSD CLAIMS?
No. In fact, VA relaxed its evidentiary standard for disability claims related to MST in 2002 to ensure all available evidence supporting these claims is considered. Because military service records may lack corroborating evidence that a stressful event occurred, VA regulations make clear that evidence from non-military sources may be used to corroborate the Veteran’s account of the MST. Further, when direct evidence of an MST is not available, VA may request a medical opinion to consider a Veteran’s account and any “markers” to corroborate the occurrence of the MST event as related to current PTSD symptoms.

CAN PREVIOUSLY DENIE D MST RELATED P TSD DISABILITY CLAIM S BE RE – EVALUATED?
Yes. Increased awareness of MST issues resulted in special training beginning in December 2011 for all VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims and the mental health clinicians conducting the examinations related to these claims. This ongoing training focuses on discovering “marker” evidence to support the claim. VA wants all Veterans who filed MST-related PTSD claims before December 2011 to receive the benefits of this nationwide training. If your claim was submitted before that date and denied, you can request a re-evaluation from your local VA regional office.
WHAT DO VETERANS NEE D TO DO TO GET A PRE VIOUSLY DENIED MST- RELATED PTSD DISABILITY CLAIM RE – EVALUATED?
Veterans who want VA to review their previously denied MST-related PTSD claim can start by contacting their regional office, calling 1-800-827-1000 or logging into their free eBenefits account at www.eBenefits.va.gov.
CAN VETERANS PROVIDE NEW INFORMATION FOR A RE-EVALUATION OF A PREVIOUSLY DENIED MSTRELATED PTSD DISABILITY CLAIM?
Yes. VBA will accept new evidence to be reviewed when a claim is re-evaluated. It’s best to send any new evidence at the same time as you request a re-evaluation. Veterans Service Organizations, as well as MST specialists and/or Women Veterans Coordinators available at every VA regional office, can help you determine what type of information is best to submit.
DO I NEED TO BE SERVICE CONNECTED FOR MY CONDITIONS RELATED TO MST TO GET TREATMENT?
No. VA provides free health care for physical and mental health conditions related to experiences of MST. No documentation of the MST experiences or disability compensation rating is required. Some Veterans may be able to receive this free MST-related health care even if they are not eligible for other VA care.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION?
You can apply for disability compensation by completing VA Form 21-526, Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension. You may also apply online at www.ebenefits.va.gov, or you can appoint an accredited Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to assist you. Male and female MST coordinators are available at every VA regional office to assist Veterans filing claims related to personal assault or MST. You can call 1-800-827-1000, and VA will put you in touch with an MST coordinator, or you can email the MST coordinator at your local regional office from the list of Compensation – April 2015 coordinators located at http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/mstcoordinators.asp . For informationabout MST-related treatment, visit ww.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp.

Overview

Female deep in thought.

Military sexual trauma (MST) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in the military. It includes any sexual activity in which one is involved against one’s will – he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities (for example, with threats of negative consequences for refusing to be sexually cooperative or with implied faster promotions or better treatment in exchange for sex), may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities; and/or threatening or unwelcome sexual advances.

Male deep in thought.Both women and men can experience MST during their service. All Veterans seen at Veterans Health Administration facilities are asked about experiences of sexual trauma because we know that any type of trauma can affect a person’s physical and mental health, even many years later. We also know that people can recover from trauma. VA has free services to help Veterans do this. You do not need to have a VA disability rating (i.e., “service connected”) to receive these services and may be able to receive services even if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incident(s) when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred.

This website has information about the health care services that VA has available for Veterans who experienced MST.  For information about VA disability compensation for conditions related to MST, please view this fact sheet about Disability Compensation for Personal Assault or Military Sexual Trauma.

Psychiatric Disability

 

In our experience, mental health disabilities tend to be some the most disabling conditions an individual can suffer from, which often prevent them from even being able to do sedentary work.

Mental disabilities including depression, Anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are complex cases that can be further complicated because they often co-exist with PTSD or TBI.Veteran Suffering Mental Illness Psychiatric Disability

Many Veterans suffer from Psychiatric/Mental Health issues. If they are service connected you may wish to have them Objectively Assessed by a Vocational Expert for your Veterans Disability or TDIU Claim.

In general, in order to get VA benefits for a psychiatric disabilities such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you need to establish the main elements of service-connection between your psychiatric disability and your time in the military.

First, you need to get a current OBJECTIV diagnosis of a mental disability. You must be diagnosed with a mental illness other than a personality disorder. The VA will not grant disability benefits for a personality disorder because they are considered to be a condition you are born with and thus not caused by your time in the military. Second, you need evidence of an in-service occurrence or aggravation of a disease, injury or precipitating event. Third, you must establish a link between the in-service event and the current mental disability.

A mental disability does not have to be your primary disability type in order to get VA benefits. For instance, if you are service-connected for a knee condition and a low back condition that produces such severe chronic pain as to cause depression, then you can get service-connection for the depression secondary

Many Doctors and Psychologist will give you a mental health diagnosis in their notes but do no OBJECTIVE tests or Measures, and therefore your left with Subjective information that the VA and Judge can give little to no weight too.

YOU NEED OBJECTIVE Evidence and we at SouthEast Vocational Experts provide Objective Testing and Assessments.

Forensic Mental Health Evaluation Methods

Forensic Evaluation Methods
 

The following sections summarize the basic steps and principles involved in conducting forensic mental health evaluations.  Guidelines for specific types of evaluations are found in the relevant topic areas.  K. Heilbrun’s Forensic Mental Health Assessment (2002) and K. Heilbrun, G. Marczk, & D. DeMatteo’s Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook (2002) provide a description of principles for conducting forensic evaluations.

I.   Define the Referral Questions
Mental health clinicians clarify the referral questions with the attorney prior to accepting the case.  In order to do so effectively, clinicians should be informed of the relevant statutes, case law, and other criteria considered by the legal decision makers. In addition, consideration should be given to social science research as it pertains to the legal questions of a given case.
II. Determine the Scope of the Evaluation
Mental health clinicians should determine which legal criteria are relevant for consideration in a forensic mental health assessment.  That is, before determining how a construct can be assessed, the clinician must determine the appropriateness of the construct.
Certain legal criteria are issues of fact (e.g., age, prior record) while others are “questions beyond the scope of clinical forensic expertise” (e.g., the impact of the offense on the community).  Although neither of these areas are formally “assessed,” they are not ignored and are “important for the assessment of legally relevant capacities and behavior that are addressed by the evaluation” (Heilbrun, Marczk, & DeMatteo, 2002).
III.  Translate Legal Criteria to Psychological Constructs
Mental health clinicians translate legal criteria to psychological constructs and develop a plan of action for assessing those constructs.
Legal criteria and psychological constructs can be difficult to define and operationalize.  Mental health clinicians first determine the meaning(s) and intent of legal terminology and criteria based on case law and other legal sources and analyses.  On a more practical level, mental health clinicians discuss with the referral source (judge, attorney) about the purpose(s) of the evaluation and potential uses of the evaluation results.  Based on this information, mental health clinicians determine what psychological constructs are relevant and applicable to the case.  In assessing these constructs, mental health clinicians rely on empirically validated assessment tools and methods that will be admissible in court.
IV.   Use of Psychological Tests and Methods
Mental health clinicians utilize valid, reliable, and generally accepted methods of accessing constructs.  Whenever possible, the mental health clinician uses multiple methods for assessing and describing constructs.   Although it may be tempting for mental health clinicians (and judges and attorneys) to rely solely on the results of a certain test, care must be taken to remember that a more comprehensive evaluation requires consideration of a multitude of factors measured or assesses through multiple measures and methods.
A.    Measures of Intelligence, Adaptive Functioning, and Academic Achievement:   The most widely used intelligence tests are the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (e.g., WAIS, WISC-IV).  These scales provide information about a person’s functioning in four areas: verbal ability; nonverbal reasoning and spatial abilities; processing speed; and working memory.
Adaptive Functioning:  Adaptive behavior can be measured with a number of tools (e.g., Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales), which are used to determine if a person meets criteria for Mental Retardation.  Information about a defendant’s adaptive functioning is also relevant to a determination of treatment needs.
Academic Functioning:  There are a number of different ways to measure academic achievement, ranging from very brief screening tools to rather extensive assessments (e.g., Woodcock Johnson).  The Wide Range Achievement Tests provide a relatively brief but thorough assessment of achievement in Spelling, Reading, and Mathematics.  Practically, a measure of reading ability ensures that the defendant has the requisite skills to complete other tests (e.g., PAI, which has a 4th grade reading level).  In terms of the evaluation, a measure of academic achievement allows for the diagnosis or ruling-out of learning disabilities, which will guide decisions about treatment needs.
B.     Personality Testing and Measures of Psychopathology, Behavioral Disturbance, and Substance Abuse:  There are hundreds of different personality tests (see See T, Grisso, G. Vincent, & D. Seagrave’s Mental Health Screening and Assessment in Juvenile Justice (2005) for a more complete review of instruments used in the juvenile justice system).  The most widely used comprehensive assessment instruments include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2 and MMPI-A); the Personality Assessment Instrument (PAI and PAI-A); the Diagnostic Interview Schedules; and the Millon Clinical Inventories.  These instruments assess a number of psychological constructs and personality traits.  Some have scales describing the person’s response style, which can be helpful in establishing the person’s attitude and motivation during the evaluation.
Other instruments are also available to assess specific areas, such as a particular disorder or problem area (e.g., substance abuse, anger, aggression).  These instruments are good supplements to the more comprehensive instruments described above but may not always include an index of a person’s response style.  In addition, these scales will vary in their utility and psychometric properties, and mental health clinicians should be able to demonstrate that the scales meet the standards for admissibility in court.
C.     Measures of Effort or Malingering:  Some general personality measures (e.g., MMPI, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, PAI) have scales of embedded in them to assess response style and profile validity.  In addition, there are some basic interview techniques and means of assessing test-taking effort available to clinicians assessing adults and adolescents.
Mental health clinicians should be aware of the possibility that those involved in the legal system may exaggerate or fabricate symptoms.  As a matter of routine, some measure or other assessment of effort should be conducted in every case.  This will (hopefully) increase the validity of the findings and opinions, as well as preempt challenges during cross-examination.
D.     Forensic Assessment Instruments:
V.     Communicate with the Referral Source
Mental health clinicians maintain communication with the referral source and makes changes to the evaluation objectives and process as necessary.
Additional evaluation questions:  Over the course of the evaluation, mental health clinicians may become aware of or suspect that a defendant lacks certain legal capacities (e.g., to stand trial, to waive Miranda rights).  With ongoing communication with the attorney, clinicians can recommend or question the attorney about the relevance of these issues in the preparation of the case.
Unhelpful Information is uncovered:  Sometimes defendants will provide conflicting or “harmful” information about the case.  It is also possible that as the evaluation progresses the evaluator begins to form an opinion that would not be helpful in the case.  Therefore, mental health professionals inform the attorneys of all information that is gathered, as well as how that information influences the forensic opinion throughout the evaluation process.
Conflicts of Interest:  When mental health clinicians become aware that there is an actual or potential conflict of interest – or when a clinician’s objectivity is otherwise compromised –  then the clinician must inform the attorney of those conflicts.
VI.             Applying Psychological Research
Mental health clinicians maintain up-to-date knowledge of research relevant to the forensic issues of a case and are able to apply that research appropriately.
VII.       Communicating the Results
             Mental health clinicians effectively communicates results with legal professionals
         and decision makers.
          Methods of Communicating Results:
No Report or Testimony:  Following the evaluation and prior to the hearing and preparation of any report, the mental health clinician and attorney should discuss the benefits and risks of using the expert; preparing a letter/report; and/or testifying in court.
Letters/Reports:  Letters are usually brief, approximately 2-4 pages in length; highlight important aspects of the juvenile’s history; and it concludes with information relevant to the legal criteria described in the general statutes.  Reports are lengthier and provide a more detailed account of the juvenile’s history; evaluation process; and description of diagnoses (if any), opinions and recommendations.
Testimony:  If testimony is required, it may be helpful for the mental health clinician and/or attorney to develop a list of possible questions, including potential cross-examination questions.
Regardless of format, make sure that all the components of the statutes are covered – as well as any other pertinent factors in the case – before submitting the report or calling the expert to testify.
In addition:
·         The report/testimony should respond directly to the referral question and legal criteria;
·         Communications should avoid jargon;
·         The evaluator should not respond directly to the ultimate legal question directly;
·         The evaluator should provide a full description of findings so that they need change little under cross-examination (Heilbrun, Marczk, & DeMatteo, 2002)
References and Recommended Sources
T. Grisso, G. Vincent, & D. Seagrave.  Mental Health Screening and Assessment in Juvenile Justice.  The Guilford Press (2005).
K. Heilbrun.  Forensic Mental Health Assessment.  Oxford University Press (2002).
K. Heilbrun, G. Marczk, & D. DeMatteo.  Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook.  Oxford University Press (2002).
 ts

FAQ Forensic Mental Health Evaluations

Why do people/lawyers/courts seek forensic mental health evaluations?

People need forensic mental health services for varying reasons. Some need to  comply with court orders while others need evaluations for employment reasons.  Mental health evaluations can be used in criminal court cases or to enhance a civil case currently under litigation. They can also be required for probation/parole purposes. Sometimes individuals may chose to seek a mental health evaluation as a “second opinion.” Sometimes people may need mental health evaluations for prior to medical surgery. Mental Health Evaluations are completed by a neutral professional with extensive training in mental health and forensics.

What can I expect in a forensic evaluation?

A mental health evaluation can take up to 8 hours to complete the testing and interview portion (for one adult).  When a custody evaluation is conducted it is a more involved process and usually takes between 30 to 60 days depending on the case.  At times, you may be asked to take certain actions outside of the interview, such as collecting information or keeping records.  You will be required to pay for evaluations in advance. At your appointment the reason for evaluation, role of evaluator, confidentiality issues (or lack of confidentiality) will be discussed. Your evaluation will include a detailed personal history, answering questions, and verbally participating with the evaluator. Most times you be given tests to complete. The tests do not have a “right” or “wrong” answer but are designed to assess your personality, level of mood, etc. Your evaluation may take one visit or more than one visit, depending on your situation. There are no right or wrong answers to give when talking to the evaluator. It is important to be honest and “be yourself.” Plan to spend three hours at your first appointment.

What benefits can I expect from working with a certified forensic evaluator/mental health professional?

A number of benefits are available from having your forensic evaluation completed by a mental health professional. Many people and/or attorneys find that working with a mental health professional to be a tremendous asset to managing difficult aspects of their case.   Some of the benefits available from forensic mental health services include:

  • Having a professional explain to a jury or judge your situation, possible diagnosis or lack of diagnosis
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek forensic services
  • Improving your chances for successful jury selection
  • Refuting testimony of other opposing expert witness that could be potentially damaging to your case

Why do Mental Health Evaluations cost so much?

Evaluations are conducted by professional mental health evaluators who have a minimum of a Masters degree (six years of college). The evaluator also has many hours of post-Masters training and experience. The Evaluation is a lengthy process and includes the ability to assess, diagnose, provide comprehensive reports, and sometimes testify in court. Child Custody Evaluations are much more involved and take specialized training to conduct. They take many more hours to complete and include the ability to work well with children and adults. Often there is interaction with many people and other professionals.

Why do I have to pay for my evaluation in advance?

It is necessary to provide funds in advance of appointments, because the evaluator attempts to avoid being vulnerable to allegations of bias. It is helpful, in assuring both parties of objectivity, to be free to render one’s opinion or recommendation without fear of difficulty collecting fees.

What can I expect from a preoperative bariatric evaluation?

This office will conduct a mental status exam, psychosocial history, clinical intwerview and administer the MMPI2 test.

Here is a good article about this question:
by Anthony N Fabricatore, Canice E Crerand, Thomas A Wadden, David B Sarwer and Jennifer L Krasucki, Published online: 01 May 2006

Background: The prevalence of extreme obesity and the popularity of bariatric surgery have increased dramatically in recent years. Many surgery programs require that candidates undergo a preoperative psychological evaluation, but no consensus exists for guiding mental health professionals in the conduct of these evaluations. Method: A survey was sent to bariatric surgeons, who were asked to distribute the surveys to the mental health professionals to whom they refer surgery candidates for preoperative evaluations. 194 respondents provided information on the assessment methods they use, which psychosocial domains are the focus of their evaluations, and what they consider to be contraindications to surgery. Responses to open-ended questions were coded for content. Results: Most respondents reported using clinical interviews (98.5%), symptom inventories (68.6%), and objective personality/psychopathology tests (63.4%). A minority used tests of cognitive function (38.1%) and projective personality tests (3.6%). Over 90% of respondents listed mental health issues among the most important areas to assess. Similarly, 92.3% listed psychiatric issues as “clear contraindications” to surgery, but no specific disorder was listed by a majority of respondents. Issues related to informed consent and treatment adherence were the non-psychiatric domains most frequently listed as important areas to assess and as contraindications to surgery.

Conclusion: The assessment practices of mental health professionals who evaluate bariatric surgery candidates vary widely. No consensus is likely to emerge until large long-term studies identify consistent psychosocial predictors of poor postoperative outcomes.

Are Forensic Evaluations Confidential?

In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist/Forensic Evaluator. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are number of exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The Mental Health Professional is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person(s) The Mental Health Professional must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The Mental Health Professional will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
  • Court evaluations.  The forensic evaluator can explain areas of confidentiality in each case.  Generally speaking the evaluator is hired to give the court recommendations so confidentially may be limited.

Interesting Links

The New Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center website

National and Global Links:

The National Institute of Mental Health website

The International Psychoanalytic Association web site

The American Psychological Association website

American Psychoanalytic Association

International Psychoanalysis: contains book and movie reviews, essays and blogs about psychoanalysis

S.F. Archives: the premier site for Freud scholars, contains original works and correspondence

Freud Related Links:

The Freud Exhibit at the Library of Congress

Sigmund Freud and the Freud Archives: Links to his works and other freud related sites

Sigmund Freud Museum Web Site: Contains many great links, info and pictures

Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, Austria: Contains links, info, and pictures Hea