Psychological Assessment for the Attorney

Rapid, accurate assessment of client cognitive functioning and psychological diagnostics are an important part of successful legal practice. Increasingly, attorneys rely on psychologists to provide psychological profiling, evaluation of malingering, assessment of client competency, objective evaluation of stress and trauma, and assessment of the client's psychological functioning.

BAPTA provides diagnoses and assessment of clinical severity for numerous behavioral and cognitive disorders. State-of-the-art psychological and neuropsychological testing assists attorneys in developing cases based on a thorough knowledge of their client's emotional and cognitive strengths and weaknesses. BAPTA's team of forensic psychologists specialize in performing objective, projective, neuropsychological, and personality testing

The expert psychologists at BAPTA specialize in testing specific populations and can testify about clients' psychological and cognitive functioning. Each BAPTA forensic psychologist relies on the most current data on diagnostic instruments, draws on detailed knowledge about their reliability and validity, and has access to a database of over 18,000 articles on forensic tests. This thorough foundation ensures that BAPTA's psychologists provide state-of-the art testimony and consultation to the legal professional.

Appropriate use of psychological testing provides clients with the best possible representation while reducing the risk of costly appeals and allegations of attorney incompetence.

Testing and expert testimony is essential for winning many kinds of cases:

  • Civil Personal Injury
  • Employment Litigation
  • Emotional Distress
  • Competency and Conservatorship
  • Age, Race, Gender Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Malingering

Criminal:

  • Competency to Stand Trial or Waive Miranda Rights
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Diminished Capacity/Actuality Pleas
  • Malingering
  • Insanity Pleas
  • Pre-Sentencing Assessments
  • Juvenile Fitness Evaluations
  • Post-Conviction Review of Thoroughness of Psychological Evaluations

Family:

  • Custody and Visitation Issues
  • Child Neglect and Abuse
  • Divorce
  • Mediation
  • Contested Estates and Probate
  • Undue Influence

Specifically, attorneys should consider referring their clients for testing when:

Case I: Sexual Harassment

A client complains of emotional trauma following alleged sexual harassment at work. She reports feeling frightened, angry, and ashamed. By adding psychodiagnostic testing to the standard assessment, the attorney should have an objective expert who can testify about the severity of the trauma, any psychological factors that predated the harassment, and the prognosis for a return to the client's emotional baseline.

CASE II: The Seniors client who wants to change her will

The older client who appears confused and to seems to have a poor memory could be suffering from a variety of illnesses, including Alzheimer's or multi-infarct dementia, Pick's disease, alcohol dependence, depression (the "pseudo-dementia"), delirium, or emotional trauma. Psychological testing can evaluate her ability to make informed decisions and can determine whether she is legally competent to make changes in her will. Attorneys who use psychological testing can distinguish themselves by working effectively with this difficult and growing population

CASE III: The "stressed-out" adult who has been denied disability coverage by his insurance company

This adult client has been experiencing work difficulties, problems in his relationships, insomnia, and many vague physical symptoms, and wants to take sick leave from work. However, his employer's EAP deems him fit to work and denies him stress leave. An assessment that includes psychological testing would enable the attorney to distinguish between depression, stress, malingering, and drug or alcohol abuse and facilitate well-informed advocacy for sick leave.

CASE IV: The client who is fired for alleged substance abuse

Clients with substance abuse problems are difficult to assess objectively in the office because they often minimize their drinking or drug use. Equally, certain types of people may be wrongfully accused of drug or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse assessments are a standard feature of psychological testing.

Case V: The "Bad Kid"

The adolescent who suddenly starts doing badly in school and has angry outbursts has his first brush with the law. Psychological testing can distinguish between adolescent depression (a leading cause of teen suicides), normal adolescence, drug abuse, child abuse, and the development of antisocial or other personality disorders. This knowledge is essential in developing sentencing or treatment recommendations.

CASE IV: The client who has suffered psychological distress as a result of physical injury

These clients are often seen by their physicians as "psychosomatic" and receive non-definitive medical work-ups, need psychological testing to assess the presence of psychological symptoms related to physical injuries. Testing also helps clients rebut accusations of malingering or personality disorders.

CASE VI: The drug addicted mother who wants treatment and reunification services

The client who requires legal assistance to obtain services for herself and her child would benefit from psychological testing to diagnose any underlying psychiatric disorders, and to assess the severity of drug addiction and the potential for rehabilitation.

CASE VII: The refugee who has been a victim of torture

Refugees basing their immigration case on allegations of torture and fearing further harm should they return home benefit greatly from psychological assessments. Psychological testing points not only to the presence or absence of the psychological consequences of torture, but also grades the severity of the client's condition.

CASE VIII: Custody disputes and allegations of child abuse in divorce settlements

Attorneys who use experienced psychologists with expertise in child assessment are able to offer their clients the best assessment of their child's needs and are able to evaluate accusations of child abuse. They can provide the court with expert recommendations for child placement and opinions about visitation issues.

CASE IX: The client whose violence potential needs to be assessed

In sentencing phases, psychological testing, including such measures as the revised Hare Psychopathy Checklist, provides standardized and objective measures of a client's potential for violence.

CASE X: The client who is claims that "homosexual panic" caused him to assault a gay man

Psychological testing can assess the underlying psychodynamics and personality of clients who commit violent crimes. The attorney who uses expert psychodiagnostic testing can provide the court with standardized measures that distinguish between anti-social personality traits, impulse disorders, and gender dysphoria syndromes.

CASE XI: The confused senior whose family wants to place him in a nursing home

This is the increasingly common Seniors client who denies symptoms of dementia, but whose family is convinced that he can no longer live alone. Neuropsychological testing measures the patient's strengths and weaknesses, levels of impairment, and specific cognitive deficits. This information is crucial in assisting attorneys to make accurate recommendations about conservatorship and competency issues.

When used judiciously, psychological tests have high levels of diagnostic accuracy. For example, the reliability of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, which measures cognitive abilities and determines intelligence quotients, ranges from an impressive .93 to .97. The Halstead Reitan Neuropsychological Battery can identify brain damaged from non-brain-damaged controls beyond the .001 level of significance. Additionally, tests such as the Bender Gestalt and the Trail Making Test accurately predict the extent to which patients with head trauma may function independently. Accuracy is enhanced when the psychologist develops the appropriate battery of tests to answer specific diagnostic and personality questions.

BAPTA, because is it a specialty clinic that solely focuses on psychometric assessments, ensures that the highest levels of predictive accuracy are made available. BAPTA distinguishes itself from the generalist psychologist by maintaining an exclusive focus on testing and by employing specialist examiners. State-of-the-art neuropsychological and psychological diagnostics, individualized treatment recommendations, and expert testimony are BAPTA's hallmark.


Bay Area Psychological Testing Associates
1057 MacArthur Blvd. #206
San Leandro, CA 94577
Telephone (415) 296-8081

Click here to send email to BAPTA

Copyright 2002, Bay Area Psychological Testing Associates