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Should Forensic Psychiatrists Conduct Psychological Testing?

Abstract Forensic psychiatrists occasionally conduct psychological testing, for a host of reasons that may include a lack of access to psychological consultation, a lack of funding for such consultation, or a genuine belief that they are technically and legally qualified to select, administer, score, and interpret the most suitable instruments for informing a particular medicolegal opinion. This phenomenon may have several clinical, ethical, and legal ramifications, depending upon the forensic psychiatrist’s level of training, the forensic issues being addressed, and the nature of the psychological tests employed. In this article, the authors distinguish between what constitute “psychological tests” as opposed to appraisals, rating scales, and inventories. Also addressed is the need for formal training and supervision, including familiarity with the mechanics of test construction and statistically determined interpretive limitations. The authors offer recommendations and provide several case vignettes that illustrate how these issues may surface in both civil and criminal law contexts. The article concludes with the caveat that psychiatrists should avoid using psychological tests without obtaining and maintaining necessary credentials. Dattilio, F. M., Sadoff, R. L., Drogin, E. Y., & Gutheil, T. G. (2011). Should forensic psychiatrists conduct psychological testing? Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 39(3), 1-10.

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