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Building a bridge between assessment and practice: Risk assessment tool and RNR principles adherence in probation case plans

Although the LS/CMI was found to be a valid tool for appraising recidivism risk in community-supervised adult male and female offenders, in order to translate risk appraisal tools into the real world case plans application, probation officers require a quality field training with the application of RNR principles. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Law and Human Behavior. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Law and Human Behavior | 2018, Vol. 42, No. 3, 258–268

Real-World Use of the Risk–Need–Responsivity Model and the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory With Community-Supervised Offenders

Authors

Heather L. Dyck, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and University of New Brunswick—Fredericton
Mary Ann Campbell, University of New Brunswick—Saint John
Julie L. Wershler, University of New Brunswick—Fredericton

Abstract

The risk–need–responsivity model (RNR; Bonta & Andrews, 2017) has become a leading approach for effective offender case management, but field tests of this model are still required. The present study first assessed the predictive validity of the RNR-informed Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI; Andrews, Bonta, & Wormith, 2004) with a sample of Atlantic Canadian male and female community-supervised provincial offenders (N = 136). Next, the case management plans prepared from these LS/CMI results were analyzed for adherence to the principles of risk, need, and responsivity. As expected, the LS/CMI was a strong predictor of general recidivism for both males (area under the curve = .75, 95% confidence interval [.66, .85]), and especially females (area under the curve = .94, 95% confidence interval [.84, 1.00]), over an average 3.42-year follow-up period. The LS/CMI was predictive of time to recidivism, with lower risk cases taking longer to reoffend than higher risk cases. Despite the robust predictive validity of the LS/CMI, case management plans developed by probation officers generally reflected poor adherence to the RNR principles. These findings highlight the need for better training on how to transfer risk appraisal information from valid risk tools to case plans to better meet the best-practice principles of risk, need, and responsivity for criminal behavior risk reduction.

Keywords

risk-need-responsivity model, case management, Level of Service/Case Management Inventory, best practices

Summary of the Research

“The risk–need–responsivity (RNR) model provides guidance for effective offender risk assessment and case management. This model reflects an integrated theory of criminal behavior drawn from personality, cognitive, and social learning approaches and contains three foundational principles: the risk, need, and responsivity principles. The risk principle states that supervision and intervention intensity should match the individual’s recidivism risk (more intensive services for high-risk offenders). The need principle calls for the identification, and targeted intervention, of criminogenic needs (e.g., procriminal thinking, substance use, family problems) driving the criminal behavior. The responsivity principle outlines guidelines for how to provide intervention services; namely by means of cognitive-behavioral skill building techniques rooted in social learning theory that are individualized to match the offender’s characteristics (e.g., age, ethnicity, learning style, motivation).” (p. 258)

“Generally, correctional programs and case plans that more strongly adhere to the RNR model show decreased levels of recidivism in males and females, youth and minority offenders, and in community and custodial settings with recidivism reductions of 10–50%. Stronger adherence to the RNR model is associated with decreases in substance abuse relapses and a variety of criminal behaviors, including nonviolent, violent, gang-related, and sexual offenses. […] Research has demonstrated that the RNR model is cost effective when compared to traditional sanctions for criminal behavior, with a $2 cost for each 1% decrease in recidivism compared with $40 for each 1% decrease when using sanctions. These results indicate that correctional services that implement a RNR model framework can significantly reduce recidivism without a significant increase in cost.” (p. 259)

“A key aspect of the RNR model and evidence-based case management is the use of risk assessment measures. Using a risk assessment instrument to inform decision-making increases the agreement in case management plans across probation officers. Contemporary risk tools are advancing into a framework that integrates the risk appraisal process with case management planning and progress assessments until discharge. The Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) is one instrument that aligns with this integrative case management process. The LS/CMI is designed to assist professionals in justice, forensic, correctional and crime prevention agencies with the management, supervision, and case planning of offenders over the age of 16 years. The LS/CMI was developed as an extension of the Level of Service Inventory– Revised (LSI-R). […] The LS/CMI has demonstrated moderate to high predictive validity for general recidivism with male and female offenders in both incarcerated and community-based settings, and is moderately predictive of violence.” (p. 259)

“Despite the importance of evidence-based assessment for informing how best to reduce recidivism risk, risk assessment is not without its criticisms. Some scholars have noted the inherent challenges with holding someone accountable for something they “might” do in the future, for the failure of group data to apply to individuals and the risk of harm of such approaches to marginalized groups, for the failure of group data to apply to individuals and the risk of harm of such approaches to marginalized groups, and greater need for culturally informed risk assessment. Thus, the value of risk assessment must be contextualized within these concerns.” (p. 259)

“Real-world use of risk instruments and their integration into case planning is often less than ideal. […] Challenges with RNR adherence may depend on the quality of the risk assessment tool used to inform the case plan. […] Given that the RNR model was foundational to the practices of the community supervision agency assessed in the current study, we took the opportunity to examine the degree of RNR adherence in their case management plans. These plans were informed, as per policy, by completion of the LS/CMI. Thus, consistent with past research, we expected the LS/CMI to have strong predictive validity for general recidivism for males and females. Furthermore, in accordance with the RNR model, we predicted that high-risk cases would receive higher intensity intervention and support services (e.g., more sessions, longer duration) than lower risk offenders. For all offenders, regardless of risk level, it was predicted that offenders with LS/CMI identified criminogenic needs would be referred to services that appropriately targeted these needs. Finally, it was predicted that the intervention services to which offenders were referred would follow the responsivity principle— use of effective intervention strategies for offenders (e.g., cognitive–behavioral strategies) and tailored delivery to the client’s strengths and weaknesses (e.g., motivation level, cognitive ability).” (p. 259–260)

“Data were drawn from case files generated between 2007 and 2012 by a provincial community correctional service in Atlantic Canada. Cases were randomly selected for inclusion, resulting in a sample of 136 offenders (101 male, 35 female; M age = 30.0 years, SD = 9.86; age range 18.05 – 70.07 years). Most (80.1%) were sentenced to probation, 9.6% were serving a conditional sentence, 2.2% were on house arrest, and 8.1% were on a combination of community supervision types. Thirty-one percent had a preindex history of criminal behavior. The sample was primarily Caucasian (93.4%), with the remaining 6.6% comprised of African Canadian, Asian, and Indigenous persons. A majority (78.7%) completed high school and/or had more advanced training/education.[…] The total sample available for pre–post comparisons in LS/CMI scores was 78 [cases].” (p. 260)

Materials included Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI), Adherence to the risk–need–responsivity (RNR) model (higher intensity treatment for higher risk individuals, primary treatment goals were related to identified criminogenic needs, case plan was tailored to individual’s strengths and limitations and when evidence-based interventions were used), and Index offense and recidivism data.

“Consistent with past research, the LS/CMI was a valid predictor of general recidivism for both male and female offenders in the current study. As expected, LS/CMI-identified high-risk cases reoffended at a significantly faster and higher rate than low-risk cases. Thus, the LS/CMI is useful for appraising recidivism risk in community supervised adult offenders. […] LS/CMI total scores did not significantly change from intake to the time of reassessment for the subgroup of cases for which such data were available. Reassessment cases did not differ from clients without reassessment on age, gender or LS/CMI intake risk scores. Nevertheless, being reassessed for risk was associated with a lower risk of general recidivism (52.6%) relative to clients only assessed at intake (67.2%). Thus, although risk scores did not change, the rate of reoffending may have been impacted by the reassessment. Although causation cannot be inferred, reassessment offers the opportunity to adjust case plans to mitigate the real-world expression of the identified risk (i.e., better risk management).” (p. 264)

“Despite use of a valid risk assessment instrument, the present study’s data did reflect challenges with the transfer of assessment information into RNR-informed case management planning. Notably, only 44.1% of reviewed plans met the risk principle and only 59.6% met the need principle. Other studies also identify problems with the translation of risk assessment information into RNR-informed case plans. Collectively, these results highlight the need to provide better training to facilitate the integration of these two processes. When stronger adherence to the RNR model was achieved, the rate of general recidivism was lower in the current study, as has been found by others. Adhering to both the risk and need principles in the current sample was associated with a 26.5% rate of reoffending, whereas this rate was 60.6% when neither of these two core principles were met. However, it was the lower risk case files that received the strongest RNR adherence ratings, which may bias interpretation of these differential recidivism outcomes.” (p. 265)

“For need principle adherence, there was little indication of overintervening with low-risk offenders. The exceptions were in the criminogenic need domains of employment/education and family/marital issues where interventions tended to be provided despite being assessed as low need areas. Probation officers may have viewed these areas as strengths to build on, but this is not clear from the current data. The importance of incorporating assessment of individual strengths or protective factors into risk assessment and case planning is increasingly being recognized and advocated for in the RNR model. Although some probation officers may have considered protective factors, it was not clearly documented. In addition, the way in which individual strengths were incorporated into case plans was likely inconsistent across probation officers without a structured protocol to inform which factors to consider and how to integrate them into the case plan.” (p. 265)

“In line with RNR recommended practice, high risk offenders in the current study were referred to a significantly greater number of services than low-risk offenders.[…] It is the quality of these services that matter more to risk/need adherence than the quantity of services per se. […] We found that high-risk cases were less likely to have their criminogenic needs targeted for intervention relative to low-risk cases. It may be that probation officers had difficulty teasing apart criminogenic and noncriminogenic interventions when working with higher risk cases, and the criminogenic focused interventions may not have been prioritized appropriately. Understanding of the process of intervention and how to target criminogenic needs in supervision meetings is a new responsibility for probation officers.” (p. 265)

“The responsivity principle is the most understudied component of the three main principles of the RNR approach, but is generally viewed as a valuable component. Unfortunately, the responsivity principle could not be meaningfully examined in the present study due to the condition of the case files. Limited information relating to the responsivity principle is consistent with previous community research.” (p. 265)

“The present study provides additional evidence for the use of the LS/CMI in community-supervision environments, especially in Atlantic Canadian populations. Furthermore, it highlights the difficulty with real-world application of the RNR model. The present study also provides evidence of challenges probation officers may experience when asked to alter their roles from a focus on supervision to a therapeutic/intervention focus. Field training with ongoing mentorship and fidelity checks is essential for ensuring appropriate implementation of the RNR model.” (p. 266)

Translating Research into Practice

“Transitioning from a role in which supervision of offenders was the primary task into one that balances supervision and intervention, as advocated by the RNR model, is one that takes time for employees to achieve.” (p. 265)

“Changes in probation officers’ approach to intervention are expected to be gradual as they adapt to a new system of practice. It is through the integration of the assessment and rehabilitation processes that the strongest outcome results are obtained. […] Quality field training with the application of the RNR model is essential and should include educational workshops about the model, why adherence to it matters for risk reduction and enhanced client outcomes, and intervention skill learning (e.g., cognitive restructuring, motivational interviewing). Over time, individual mentorship, booster sessions and skill upgrading will be key as the field of evolves. The Strategic Training Initiative in Community Corrections model is an example of this type of training, with effective results for reducing criminal risk in the clients supervised by probation officers trained in this manner relative to clients supervised by untrained probation officers. Further evaluation of such training models is needed.” (p. 265–266)

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

“A major strength of the present study was its use of offender case files that reflect the real-time practices and implementation of the RNR framework. However, using data gathered from records maintained by professionals without a focus on research has its limitations. First, although Section 1 of the LS/CMI had strong predictive validity for general recidivism events and time to first recidivism, the majority of files did not have the other LS/CMI sections completed despite being intended to inform case management and supervision practices. […] Furthermore, many files did not have a follow-up LS/CMI completed or any information on the program(s) the offender was referred to (e.g., intervention orientation, main intervention goals). […] Examining RNR adherence with a larger sample size may reveal greater nuances in practices and limitations, including the value of reassessment. Another limitation of the current study was the limited information available for the offender rehabilitation programs. […] Finally, it should be acknowledged that the sample used in the current study was modest relative to other risk prediction studies using the LS/CMI which tend to exceed 500+ cases for analyses, often into the thousands. Although our smaller sample may influence the generalizability and reliability of the current findings, our risk prediction and RNR adherence results are fairly consistent with the broader research literature on the LS/CMI and RNR adherence use in the field.” (p. 266)

“Future research should focus on the integrity of implementing the RNR principles in real world case management as these principles, and more widely the RNR model, become foundational for more organizations. The most fruitful research may come in the form of full prospective program evaluations during times of organizational transition and policy changes.” (p. 266)

Join the Discussion

As always, please join the discussion below if you have thoughts or comments to add!

Authored by Kseniya Katsman

Kseniya Katsman is a Master’s student in Forensic Psychology program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her interests include forensic application of dialectical behavior therapy, cultural competence in forensic assessment, and risk assessment, specifically suicide risk. She plans to continue her education and pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

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Receive Training & Consultation on Best Practices in Competence to Stand Trial from Dr. Patricia Zapf: Register Now!

Best Practices in the Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial
Dr. Patricia Zapf

March 1 – May 9, 2015

30 hours over 10 weeks (includes 10 hours of consultation)

 

5-best-practicesOne of the primary foundations of criminal law is that all defendants have a right to a fair trial. Towards this end, upwards of 60,000 evaluations of competency to stand trial are conducted annually in the USA. Research has shown that the opinion of the evaluator in these evaluations is accepted by the courts upwards of 95% of the time. Thus, it is imperative that these evaluations be conducted using best practices. Two important sources have recently been recognized as setting the foundation for best practices in competency evaluation. This training program provides a strong foundation for any mental health professional involved in or wishing to become involved in the evaluation of adjudicative competence.

This training program covers the legal foundations for adjudicative competence, including new developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky standard, as well as practical and theoretical issues in competency evaluation. Competency assessment instruments are reviewed in depth as are report writing and expert testimony.

The trainee is taken through the foundations for competency evaluation, the specific abilities to be evaluated, how to formulate a case conceptualization and ultimate opinion regarding a defendant’s adjudicative competence, how to communicate opinions about competence in the written report and through expert testimony. In addition, participants will engage in one hour of weekly small group consultation with the instructor to discuss current clinical cases and other clinical implementation issues.


Patricia Zapf

About the Instructor

Patricia A. Zapf obtained her PhD in Clinical Forensic psychology from Simon Fraser University in Canada and currently holds the position of Professor in the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. She is the Editor of the American Psychology-Law Society book series; Associate Editor of Law and Human Behavior; and is on the Editorial Boards of 5 journals in psychology and law. Dr. Zapf is on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services and currently serves as President-Elect for the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS; Division 41, APA).

 

Session 1: Evaluation of Risk for Violence using the HCR-20-V3

Instructors: Dr. Kevin Douglas & Dr. Stephen Hart

Dates: March 1, 2015 – May 9, 2015 (10 weeks)

20 hours of online training + 10 hours of consultation (1 hour/week)

 


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Chances are You Know Half as Much as You Did 7 Years Ago: Half-Life of Knowledge Underscores the Importance of Continued Professional Development

HalfLifeThe half-life of knowledge is an interesting and important concept. Half-life of knowledge refers to the number of years that it would take for half of the information or knowledge available in a field of study to become defunct or superseded by new information.  This number, of course, varies by field or specialized area of study. The half-life of knowledge for two well-developed areas of medical specialization—hepatitis and cirrhosis—has been calculated to be about 45 years. That is, it takes about 45 years for half of the current knowledge base in these areas to become outdated and superseded by new information.

Half-Life of Knowledge for Forensic Psychology

The half-life for information in the field of psychology (broadly defined) has been calculated to be about 7.2 years, with wide variation depending upon area of specialization. For example, the half-life of knowledge in the area of psychoanalytic psychology, an established area with relatively little new research, has been estimated at 15.6 years whereas the half-life for psychopharmacology, a relatively new field with burgeoning research, has been estimated at 4.8 years.

The half-life for information relevant to forensic psychology is currently estimated to be 7.5 years and for police psychology to be 8.3 years. Estimates of the future half-life of these specializations are 6.6 years for forensic psychology and 7.2 years for police psychology. Thus, without any additional professional training or development, our knowledge base falls to about 50% within a 7-year period.

Rapid developments in our knowledge and skill sets underscore the importance of keeping up to date with the research for implementation into practice. A cursory review of the research literature in the area of risk assessment shows that we have gone from thinking about dangerousness, to the importance of empirically established risk factors, to the relevance of risk communication, to models of structured professional judgment that highlight the management of risk factors, all within the last two decades.

Similarly, our knowledge and practice with respect to competency evaluation has evolved as a result of a more nuanced interpretation of the standards set out in dicta from case law and Supreme Court decisions and best practices standards published over the last several years.

Information regarding the half-life of knowledge serves to underscore the importance of continued professional development. In the field of psychology, for example, doctoral programs are designed to provide a broad and general foundation of knowledge and skills, with the expectation that graduates will then continue to develop and build upon this foundation through additional specialized professional training and continuing education endeavors. The same is true for the medicine and other professional fields.

Problem-Based Learning for Professional Development

The field of medicine has widely adopted a “problem-based learning” (PBL) model of continuing professional development. The PBL model emphasizes the development of clinical reasoning skills and self-directed learning through the use of clinical case presentations, which allow the opportunity for professionals to apply new skills or techniques to real cases. In addition, the use of an online format for much continuing medical education allows for worldwide dissemination of this training, eliminates the need to travel to obtain further professional development, allows the professional to work at his or her own pace, and makes training by the best of the best accessible to all.

Problem-based learning using an online format has only recently been applied to other fields, such as clinical and forensic psychology, but initial evaluation efforts undertaken in Australia and the United States show positive results and conclude that online problem-based learning can make a significant contribution to professional development.

Professional training programs that allow the opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills to case studies and case illustrations similar to those encountered in one’s professional practice are important for continued professional development and serve to enhance clinical reasoning and case formulation skills. Given the half-life of knowledge, it is imperative that professionals make a concerted effort to stay on top of recent developments in research and practice. Seeking out professional development or training opportunities (either in-person or online) on a regular basis will serve to minimize the chance of using outdated information or being left behind.

Professional Training Programs

CONCEPT has developed a series of problem-based online professional training programs that are currently enrolling for an early 2014 start. If you have ideas or suggestions for additional training programs, please let us know. If you are a senior-level graduate student and would like to apply for a scholarship for one of our training programs, please apply here.

References

Kiernan, M. J., Murrell, E., & Relf, S. (2008). Professional education of psychologists using online problem-based learning methods: Experience at Charles Sturt University. Australian Psychologist, 43, 286-292.

Neimeyer, G. J., Taylor, J. M., & Rozensky, R. H. (2012). The diminishing durability of knowledge in professional psychology: A Delphi Poll of specialties and proficiencies. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 43, 364-371.

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50 Professional Resources Relevant to the Practice of Forensic Psychology

iStock_000007133021XSmallVarious professional organizations have developed documents and other resources that are relevant to the practice of forensic psychology. We have collated these below for ease of access, as professionals who practice in the area of forensic psychology should be familiar with the existence of these resources. If you have others you’d like us to add, please send them along.

Resources Developed by the American Psychological Association (APA)

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (amended 2010) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings (revised 2010) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters (revised 2011) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for the Practice of Parenting Coordination (2012) by the American Psychological Association

Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Practice (2005) by the American Psychological Association

Psychological Testing on the Internet (2002) by the American Psychological Association

Record Keeping Guidelines (revised 2007) by the American Psychological Association

Report of the Task Force on Test User Qualifications (2000) by the American Psychological Association

Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (2013) by the American Psychological Association

Statement on the Disclosure of Test Data (1996) by the American Psychological Association

Recent Developments Affecting the Disclosure of Test Data and Materials (2007) by the American Psychological Association

Strategies for Private Practitioners Coping with Subpoenas or Compelled Testimony for Client Records or Test Data (updated 2006) by the American Psychological Association

Statement on Third-Party Observers in Psychological Testing and Assessment: A Framework for Decision Making (2007) by the American Psychological Association

Resources Developed by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL)

Ethical Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry (2005) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guideline for the Forensic Evaluation of Psychiatric Disability (2008) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guideline for the Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial (2007) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guidelines for Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Defendants Raising the Insanity Defense (2002) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Resources Developed by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN)

Consensus Conference Statement on the Neuropsychological Assessment of Effort, Response Bias, and Malingering (2009) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Ethical Complaints Made Against Clinical Neuropsychologists During Adversarial Proceedings (2003) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Official Position of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology on Serial Neuropsychological Assessments (2010) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Policy on the Use of Non-Doctoral-Level Personnel in Conducting Clinical Neuropsychological Evaluations (1999) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Policy Statement on the Presence of Third Party Observers in Neuropsychological Assessments (2001) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Resources Developed by the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN)

Conflict of Interest Inherent in Contingency Fee Arrangements (2011) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Disclosure of Neuropsychological Test Data (2007) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Independent and Court-Ordered Forensic Neuropsychological Examinations (2003) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Presence of Third Party Observers During Neuropsychological Testing (2000) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Secretive Recording of Neuropsychological Testing Interviewing (2009) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Symptom Validity Assessment: Practice Issues and Medical Necessity (2005) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Test Security (2000) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Test Security: An Update (2003) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

The Use, Education, Training, and Supervision of Neuropsychological Test Technicians (Psychometrists) in Clinical Practice (updated 2006) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Resources Developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)

Guidelines for Brief Focused Assessment (2009) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Child Protection Mediation (2012) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy (2010) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Parenting Coordination (2005) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation (2006) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation (2000) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Websites of Interest

American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

American Academy of Forensic Psychology

American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

American Board of Forensic Psychology

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Council of State Governments Justice Center

Florida Mental Health Institute Department of Mental Health Law & Policy

Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy

Mental Health Law and Policy Institute at Simon Fraser University

National Academy of Neuropsychology

National Center for State Courts Problem Solving Courts

National GAINS Center


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Are You Using Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment?

BookSeriesOxford University Press has published a book series entitled Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment. This series has made a significant impact on the field of forensic psychology by offering concise, empirically based information regarding best practices for forensic assessment in a variety of areas. The series consists of 20 books, each written by well-known and well-respected leaders in the field of forensic psychology.

The Best Practices Series

foundationsThe series editors—Kirk Heilbrun, Tom Grisso, and Alan Goldstein—wrote the first book for the series, Foundations of Forensic Mental Health Assessment (2008), which provides an overview of the foundational considerations in forensic mental health assessment. Each of the 19 books that follow uses a similar format, with a description of the legal context, the forensic mental health concepts, and the empirical foundation and limits for each content area followed by detailed information on preparing for the evaluation, data collection, interpretation, and report writing and testimony. The books are targeted towards mental health and legal professionals involved in various aspects of forensic mental health assessment. They represent an accumulation of decades of knowledge that has been distilled into best practices to be followed by those involved in these evaluations.

The book series is organized into 3 sections of titles—Criminal, Civil, and Juvenile & Family—each of which will be described in more detail below. This series is a must-have for anyone interested or involved in forensic mental health assessment as has quickly become the standard for forensic mental health assessment. Professionals not familiar with this series risk uncomfortable questions on cross-examination about their assessment techniques and practices and how they conform to currently accepted standards of forensic mental health assessment.

Each of the titles in the series is briefly described below.

Criminal Titles in the Series

cstEvaluation of Competence to Stand Trial (2009)

Authors: Patricia Zapf & Ronald Roesch

“This is an excellent book that provides a concise overview of evaluating competence to stand trial. The authors highlight the most important points and walk readers through the evaluation and testimony process, combining research with practice. Novice clinicians will gain much from the insights in this book, and seasoned veterans will not be disappointed.”–Doody’s

cr

Evaluation of Criminal Responsibility (2009)

Author: Ira Packer

While the notion of insanity and the fact that it is unfair to hold “mentally impaired” people fully and criminally responsible for their actions has a long history, the concepts associated with criminal responsibility are still complex and difficult to define. In recent years, the field has developed a greater consensus regarding essential data collection methods, as well as how to manage the type of reasoning that is required in fitting data to the legal definitions. This volume offers guidance for the forensic mental health examiner, based on tradition as well as the latest developments for improving practice in criminal responsibility evaluations.

MirandaEvaluating Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights (2010)

Authors: Alan Goldstein & Naomi Goldstein

Provides a detailed “how-to” for practitioners, including information on data collection, interpretation, report writing and expert testimony.

svp

Evaluation of Sexually Violent Predators (2008)

Authors: Philip Witt & Mary Alice Conroy

This volume is part of the Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. It focuses on evaluations for civil committment of Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs). These are the offenders who are determined by the court to present sufficient risk to the community to justify being detained beyond the expiration of their maximum criminal sentences.

ViolenceAdultsEvaluation for Risk of Violence in Adults (2009)

Author: Kirk Heilbrun

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. Includes helpful step-by-step information on performing violence risk assessments. User-friendly format includes bulleted lists, helpful tips, and key issues to avoid.

capitalsent

Evaluation for Capital Sentencing (2010)

Author: Mark Cunningham

This book addresses the evaluation of criminals for capital sentencing, and looks at the history and importance of this process, the legal standards and the procedure for applying this evaluation in court.

eyewitnessEvaluating Eyewitness Identification (2010)

Authors: Brian Cutler & Margaret Bull Kovera

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. User-friendly format and design for on-the-spot reference.  Provides an overview of the most up-to-date legal and psychological developments

juryselection

Jury Selection (2012)

Authors: Margaret Bull Kovera & Brian Cutler

Sets forth best practices to follow when conducting a scientific jury selection. Provides overview of standardized tools for assessing personality traits and attitudes.

Civil Titles in the Series

treatmentresearchEvaluation of Capacity to Consent to Treatment and Research (2009)

Author: Scott Kim

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. Provides step-by-step information on evaluating competence to consent to treatment. Contains useful features like key terms, best practice sidebars, and checklists.

guardianship

Evaluation for Guardianship (2010)

Authors: Eric Drogin & Curtis Barrett

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. Contains useful features like key terms, best practice sidebars, and checklists. Gives step-by-step instructions on conducting guardianship evaluations.

workplacedisabilityEvaluation of Workplace Disability (2011)

Author: Lisa Piechowski

Offers general and specific guidelines of each type of evaluation as well as reviews of relevant cases. Practice guidelines for conducting workplace mental health disability evaluations. Issues specific to evaluations for the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

PersonalInjury

Evaluation for Personal Injury Claims (2011)

Authors: Andrew Kane & Joel Dvoskin

Presents established empirical foundations from the behavioral, social, and medical sciences, addressing the assessment of personal injury claims.

HarrassmentEvaluation for Workplace Discrimination and Harassment (2010)

Authors: Jane Goodman-Delahunty & William Foote

Addresses the evaluation of damage for discrimination or harassment claims, and explores the history and importance of this process.

civilcommit

Evaluation for Civil Commitment (2011)

Authors: Debra Pinals & Douglas Mossman

Offers practical guidance on civil commitment evaluations for clinicians with little or no specialty training in forensic psychiatry.

Juvenile and Family Titles in the Series

juvenilecstEvaluation of Juveniles’ Competence to Stand Trial (2009)

Authors: Ivan Kruh & Tom Grisso

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. Contains useful features like key terms, best practice sidebars, and checklists. Gives step-by-step instructions on conducting competence evaluations with juveniles.

ViolencejuvenileEvaluation for Risk of Violence in Juveniles (2010)

Authors: Robert Hoge & D.A. Andrews

Part of the successful Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series. Provides step-by-step information on conducting risk assessments with juveniles. Contains useful features like key terms, best practice sidebars, and checklists.

childprotectionEvaluation of Parenting Capacity in Child Protection (2011)

Authors: Karen Budd, Jennifer Clark & Mary Connell

Provides a detailed “how-to” for practitioners, including information on data collection, interpretation, report writing and expert testimony.

 childcustodyEvaluation for Child Custody (2011)

Authors: Geri Fuhrmann & Robert Zibbell

Provides a detailed “how-to” for practitioners, including information on data collection, interpretation, report writing and expert testimony. Written by two child custody examiners with years of experience and an exceptional depth of understanding of the area. Synthesizes the highest quality of work in the field to articulate the best practices for these evaluations based upon professional guidelines, law, and research.

Continuing Education Credit

We are please to offer Continuing Education (CE) credit for the Best Practices series. For more information on the titles offered and the number of CE hours offered for each title, please click here.

CECREDIT-OXFORD

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IAFMHS 2013 Keynote: Best Practices in Competency to Stand Trial (Video)

I was thrilled to be asked by the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services  (IAFMHS) to give the Dr. Derek Eaves Keynote Address at the 2013 conference in Maastricht, Netherlands. Those who know me well know that I love to travel and that Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. Thus, the invitation to travel to Maastricht, about 2 hours south of Amsterdam by train and home of perhaps the best forensic psychology masters program in Europe, was sweet!

The Conference was excellent! Corine de Ruiter, the President of IAFMHS and a Professor of Forensic Psychology at Maastricht University, Vivienne de Vogel, Kim van Oorsouw and 23 student volunteers from Maastricht worked tirelessly to ensure that everything went off without a hitch. No easy feat, as anyone who has ever organized a conference knows (yes, I’ve done two!).

The IAFMHS Conference occurs on an annual basis, typically in June, and includes four Keynote addresses. The first address of the Conference, the Dr. Derek Eaves Lecture, in honor of the first President of the IAFMHS, kicks off the scientific programming, which lasts 3 days.

I was asked to speak on Best Practices in the Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial and so took the opportunity to think about how I might be able to advance practice in this area. Rather than simply lay out the best practices as described in the book that Ron Roesch and I wrote for the Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series published by Oxford University Press, I came up with 5 key areas of improvement that I see as necessary given my review of the various literature on competency. Each of these is discussed in turn during my talk and, to make things interesting for those who don’t conduct competency evaluations as part of their practice, I decided to include photos of my travels in the background of each slide.

The talk went well and the photos resulted in people from all over the world approaching me to introduce themselves and to talk about one of my true passions…travel and adventure vacations. Awesome!

Here is a video of my talk paired with my slides. (Please ignore my weird facial expressions…first time I’ve seen myself give a talk on video…not sure why I’m doing that…)

In my next 3 posts, I will include the other 3 Keynote addresses from IAFMHS 2013 in Maastricht, Netherlands. Stay tuned…