PTSD

A Clinical And Forensic Look Into PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event that is either experienced or witnessed by an individual. The event is perceived as too overwhelming and terrifying, and causes symptoms that affect one’s normal way of life. PTSD is often misdiagnosed or dismissed by healthcare professionals. This is the reason why many people with PTSD are usually untreated. 

Symptoms often vary from person to person, but usually develop immediately after the trauma. However, they can also develop years later. As a result, people are often taken by surprise with smothering and irrational emotions. Consequently, significant problems occur in all areas of life. In addition, they profoundly interfere with our daily activities and peace of mind. PTSD affects people of all ages. 

The Past Revisited

PTSD is characterized by constant and painful memories of the traumatic events of the past. This includes:

  • Intrusive and distressing flashbacks of the traumatic experience
  • Frequent and recurrent nightmares about or relating to the trauma 
  • Paralyzing fear when confronted by a situation similar to the event. These situations are referred to as “triggers” which can be visual or auditory triggers.
  • Reliving and re-experiencing the terrifying ordeal

Emotional and Behavioral Changes

PTSD is also characterized by negative thoughts and emotions that cause negative changes in mood and behavior. This includes:

  • Mood swings, anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness and a negative outlook
  • Irrational fear, phobias, and distrust of people
  • Lack of interest in social activities
  • Problems maintaining close and intimate relationships
  • Detachment with friends and family
  • Avoidance of anything that can be a reminder of the trauma
  • No concrete plans for the future 
  • Easily startled and chronic nervousness
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Physical Changes

  • Insomnia or poor sleeping habits
  • Anorexia and loss of interest in food
  • Inability to focus or concentrate, leading to  poor academic and job performance
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Medication abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of energy 
  • Regression in children by bedwetting and tantrums

Not all traumatic experiences lead to PTSD. This depends on many factors such as age, severity of trauma, and coping abilities of the individual. Many associate PTSD with war veterans. However, this condition has expanded in modern times. It is now a worldwide phenomenon that affects millions of people in a variety of ways.

These traumas of the mind and body result in powerful emotional episodes in those with PTSD. Furthermore, these events are usually life threatening and something rare. The rarity of the event creates trauma that enters deeply into the psyche. The events range from accidents, to natural disasters, to wars, witnessing a crime, or being a victim of a crime. 

PTSD in Victims of Crime

PTSDThere is a much higher incidence of PTSD among victims of crime. Moreover, researchers looked at 80 different types of disasters and compared severity of trauma from them. Not surprisingly, mass violence was the most traumatizing of all. Consequently, 67% of people exposed to mass violence developed severe trauma. Natural disasters usually cause a slightly higher amount of trauma (42%) when compared to technological disasters (34%).

According to the PTSD Alliance, the estimated risk of developing PTSD among crime victims are: rape (49%), physical assault (31%), sexual assault (23.7%), shooting and stabbing (15.4%), and witnessing a murder (7.3%). Studies also show very high rates of PTSD among children. As a result, 100% of the victims of parental homicide develop PTSD. In addition, PTSD forms for around 90% of sexually abused children,  77% exposed to shootings, and 35% exposed to community violence.

PTSD in Crime Offenders

PTSD is often used to as an insanity defense for a crime offender. But this is rare, as these types of defenses are difficult to win. Insanity pleas have a high failure rate and account for only 1% of criminal pleas in the United States. Furthermore, out of that 1%, only 25% successfully get an NGRI verdict (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity). 

An NGRI states that a person cannot be held criminally responsible if the act was committed because of mental disease. Meaning, the offender isn’t of a sound mind during the criminal act. For this reason, PTSD is highly criticized as a defense for crime. However, a few successful cases exist.

The Role of A Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists apply their knowledge to criminal behavior in order to accurately assess a case. Therefore, bridging the gap between psychology and law. It is the application of psychological principles in the legal world. A forensic psychologist evaluates PTSD in offenders and victims. They are highly trained in psychological assessment and forensic evaluations. 

Crimes, disasters, and tragic events do not discriminate. They can happen to anyone. And when they do, the consequences are life changing. Oftentimes, survivors are left to deal with the aftermath on their own. As a result, anxiety, depression and even rates of suicide can increase. If you or a loved one is a victim of crime or a traumatic event, please get help before it is too late. Forensic psychologists can provide counseling and therapy for victims of PTSD. 

 

Sources:

PTSD and Crime Victimization

Mental Health Issues

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Forensic Examinations And PTSD

PTSD Within the Forensic Arena

 

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insanity assessment

Insanity Assessment: When A Guilty Mind Is Absent

THE JUROR STANDS IN THE COURTROOM. Everyone is silent and is seemingly holding their breaths. After a few seconds that lasted more like minutes, the juror declares in a loud voice, “We find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity”.  Scenes such as this are highly popularized and dramatized in TV shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, or Law And Order. And like any avid fan of crime dramas, we think we know what it means. But do we?

Establishment of Guilt

insanity assessmentIf someone accidentally hits another person with their car, is the driver guilty of a crime? If a person kills in the act of self defense, will that person be held liable for taking a life? What if the perpetrator is mentally insane? What happens when a guilty mind is absent?

There are three elements of a crime, and these elements come together to establish guilt or criminal liability. Every crime involves an act (actus reus), state of mind (mens rea), and causation. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) revolves around the second element, mens rea. Mens rea is the qualification that a person had the required state of mind during the commission of the crime. Examples of this would be premeditation, recklessness, or negligence. If this qualification is absent, a guilty verdict cannot be found. Under this framework, an NGRI  plea proposes that a defendant is not guilty because of insanity.

Insanity Assessment

Insanity is not just a psychiatric term. It is actually a legal term. In a legal perspective, insanity goes around the premise that the defendant was not of sound mind when a criminal act was committed. However, an NGRI does not apply to every mentally ill defendant. This is because suffering from a mental disorder does not necessarily prove insanity. 

Insanity assessment helps to determine if a person should be granted an NGRI verdict. Contrary to what we see in TV crime shows, insanity pleas have a high failure rate. Only 1% of criminal pleas in the U.S. are NGRI. And within this diminutive percentage, only 25% successfully establish insanity. 

Certain criteria need to be met to validate insanity. And this is no easy feat. The courts rely on the judgement and expertise of a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist in establishing a defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime. These experts use certain guidelines when performing insanity assessment on an individual. They determine legal insanity by applying one or more of the following guidelines:

M’Naghten Rule

insanity assessmentEstablished by the English House of Lords in the 19th century, the M’Naghten Rule determines that a person cannot differentiate between right and wrong when committing the crime. Moreover, the person did not possess the mental capacity to understand the nature and quality of the crime. This rule is also known as the right-or-wrong test. 

The rule was established in 1843 in England following the trial of Daniel M’Naghten, who killed the prime minister’s secretary, thinking he was the prime minister Robert Peel himself. M’Naghten harbored a delusion that the government was conspiring against him. He was acquitted of murder and was institutionalized for the rest of his life.

Durham Rule

The Durham Rule is another insanity assessment tool used to evaluate the validity of an insanity claim. With this rule, a defendant cannot be held criminally responsible for a crime if the act was a result of a mental illness. This rule requires the jury to establish whether or not the defendant suffers from mental illness, and if there exists a causal relationship between the disease and the crime. 

This rule was adopted by the United States Court of Appeals in 1954. It was established following the case of Monte Durham, a 23 year old convicted of housebreaking in 1953. Durham had been in and out of mental institutions prior to his conviction. The Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, giving rise  to this new rule for insanity assessment. 

Irresistible Impulse Test

One problem that arose with the M’Naghten Rule was the establishment of insanity among individuals who understood right from wrong, and yet could not control impulses due to mental illness. The Irresistible Impulse Test addresses this problem. Under its parameters, a defendant may be found not guilty due to the inability to control impulses leading to the commission of a crime. This test is suitable for mental conditions like manias and paraphilias. 

The Model Penal Code

This rule states that an individual is not responsible for a crime where, due to mental disease, he or she did not have the “substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”

The courts adopted this rule in 1972 in an attempt to improve existing frameworks for insanity. It is broader, more comprehensive and encompassing of the complexities involved with insanity assessment. But like the previous rules, it is not without flaws. 

When dealing with an insanity assessment, a forensic psychologist must possess the necessary skills and training for such a critical task. If you want to gain more insight about forensic psychology, check out our post, “Differences Between Therapeutic Psychology and Forensic Psychology”. 

 

Sources:

Forensic Psychologists in Determining Insanity and Competency to Stand Trial

Logical Model of Guilt as a Part of a Structure of Crime

AAPL Practice Guideline for Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Defendants Raising the Insanity Defense

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Insanity defense

Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

What are The Elements of a Crime?

Criminal Law

 

 

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impact of divorce on children

The Impact of Divorce on Children

Parents splitting up is never easy for the whole family. It is a very emotional time not only for the parents, but also for the children.  No matter what age, it can be pretty traumatic and disheartening for kids to see the end of their parents’ marriage. The impact of divorce on children may vary. Some kids may feel upset, angry or depressed. While others may feel guilty and blame themselves for the situation.

Divorce is a transitional period for the whole family. That’s why it is important to recognize the different ways it can affect a child in order to make the transition a lot easier for them. This post explores and talks about the impact of divorce on children.

Mental Health Problems

impact of divorce on childrenA divorce is a huge adjustment for the family. The once secure and unbreakable unit has now collapsed, and kids are thrust into big changes that they may not be ready for. Changes such as losing a parent that they are close to, or losing friends by moving to a new location. This may result in feelings of insecurity, anxiety and depression. 

Research shows that divorce increases risk of psychological problems in children, regardless of sex and age. Kids with divorced parents have a higher risk of developing mood disorders. Toddlers and preschoolers may regress and exhibit infantile behavior like bedwetting, thumbsucking and separation anxiety. 

Poor Academic Performance

Kids in the middle of a divorce often do poorly in school. Their grades may start to slide, and their school performance may suffer overall. They also face a higher dropout rate compared to others. Possible reasons behind this may be due to feelings of depression, neglect, or inability to focus due to what’s going on at home.

Social Withdrawal

Studies have shown that divorce can also affect a child socially. Children may feel shy, distant, detached, or even fearful of social interaction. This stems from feelings of anxiety, insecurity and low self-esteem. Some examples of social withdrawal in kids are: avoiding friends, skipping school events, or isolating oneself at home. 

Externalizing Behavior

The impact of divorce on children is evident in behavioral changes that take place. Anger, irritability, temper tantrums, disobedience and rebelliousness can often be seen in kids that are in the middle of a divorce. Physical aggression and behavioral misconduct are all signs that they are externalizing / acting out their internal anger and frustration. To learn more about externalizing behavior in children, check out our post, How To Help Your Child with Difficult Behavior

Risky Behavior

impact of divorce on childrenAnother way of emotional externalization in kids is by engaging in risky behaviors. Classic examples are drug and alcohol abuse, as well as early initiation into sexual activity. In the U.S., kids with divorced parents are more likely to start drinking alcohol and use prohibited substances earlier than their peers. In addition, studies have also shown that adolescents whose parents divorced when they were 5 years old or younger, were more likely to engage in early sex before the age of 16.

Health Problems 

Research shows that there is a connection between parental divorce and eating disorders in adolescents. In addition, kids may experience lack of sleep, poor eating habits, as well as frequent physical ailments like headaches and indigestion. All of which are related to anxiety and stress.

Negative Outlook Towards Marriage

As the saying goes, history repeats itself. Research shows that children who have experienced parental divorce are likely to leave their spouse in their own relationships when they grow up. Studies suggest that the tendency to divorce is 2 to 3 times greater in children with divorced parents. This indicates a negative attitude and outlook towards relationships and marriages in general. 

Today, almost 50% of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. While this is a discouraging statistic, we can also look at it as a challenge to rise above it. Educating parents regarding divorce and its effects on children is crucial in preventing some of the negative impact of divorce on children.

 

Reference:

Divorce Statistics and Facts

The Influence of Divorce on Eating Disorder Development in the Adolescent

The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children

Divorce and Its Effects On The Development of Children

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vitamin d and mental health

Vitamin D and Mental Health

Why Everyone is Craving Vitamin D 

Most people understand the importance of consuming various vitamins; however, many people are not getting enough Vitamin D and it can affect their mental health. This vitamin is called the sunshine vitamin because most people can get what they need directly from the sun. The body produces Vitamin D from sunlight. Numerous people do not get enough sunlight on a regular basis, so luckily it is also available by consuming certain things. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more apparent because people are spending way more time inside. Some people also choose to take supplements with the vitamin in it.

Why Vitamin D

Most people instantly associate Vitamin D with bone health; however Vitamin D does so much more. There are several processes that Vitamin D helps in. One of the most important functions of the vitamin is the regulation of the absorption of phosphorous and calcium. It also helps with immune system function. It is imperative for healthy bones and teeth. It also helps to combat certain diseases. If the body is unable to get enough of the D vitamin the risk for abnormal bones increase.

Vitamin D Helps to Regulate Mood

Vitamin D is described as a natural mood regulator. Sometimes a change in attitude and outlook is because the vitamin is lacking. In fact, when someone is missing this important vitamin, they may become depressed. Some people who do not get enough Vitamin D on a daily basis, become more anxious. It is suggested that adults get 2000 IU of Vitamin D each day. Some doctors recommend getting Vitamin D levels checked to ensure enough of the vitamin is being taken each day.

vitamin d foods

How to Get Enough Vitamin D

There are several ways to ensure that enough Vitamin D is taken on a daily basis.

One way is to ensure that at least ten to thirty minutes each day is spent directly in the sun. This can help to increase D3 levels. If natural sunlight is not an option due to time or location, purchasing a therapy lamp is another great option. Another way to get Vitamin D in daily is by the food eaten. Some good food options are salmon, tuna, milk, eggs and mushrooms. Supplements are another great way to increase Vitamin D levels. It is important to review exactly how much Vitamin D is in the supplement because there can be quite a range.

Vitamin D is very important to keep the body functioning properly. If anyone is having trouble with their anxiety or depression getting more Vitamin D may help. 

 

See our blog for more topics on mental health.

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differences psychology

Differences Between Therapeutic Psychology and Forensic Psychology 

Differences Between Therapeutic Psychology and Forensic Psychology 

When it comes to mental health, it is incredibly important to make sure one finds the best suited mental health professional possible in order to increase one’s chances of a desired outcome. Most people find themselves visiting a mental health professional for one of two reasons. They either take it upon themselves to seek out treatment in order to improve their mental health or situation, or they have been mandated by a court or a place of employment to seek an evaluation.  The differences in these psychology practices can be found here. 

Mental health professionals usually specialize in different areas of practice. Regardless of purpose, it is important for a client to understand the major differences between these two specialties within the psychiatric realm. The fundamental difference between the roles of therapeutic psychologists and forensic psychologist, is whether the client is pursuing voluntary treatment vs. involuntary assessment. This article will further explore the major differences between forensic and therapeutic psychology.

Reasons for Therapy 

A therapeutic psychologist is much more open to a client establishing and modifying their treatment goals. A psychologist who specializes in this field will usually be sought out by a client when they have perhaps experienced difficult circumstances or significant hardships in their life, and they would like to address these issues in order to develop appropriate coping mechanisms for the situation at hand. 

The main purpose of a forensic psychologist, is to ascertain whether the individual is of sound mind to stand trial or, in the case of employment, return to duty. A forensic psychologist is not hired in order to assist an individual in improving their psychological well-being. Rather, a forensic psychologist’s role is focused on the legalities, rather than dispensing therapeutic advice. 

For example, a law enforcement officer who has been involved in a particularly stressful incident while on duty may be mandated by his department to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before he is allowed to return to regular duty status. Another example, could be a criminal defendant, who’s mental capacity may be called into question. One of the deciding factors in whether they would be deemed “criminally insane,” or fit to stand trial, would be the outcome of a mandated forensic psychiatric evaluation. 

Confidentiality

A common myth is that all psychologists are held to the same standard of confidentiality, however this is not the case when it comes to forensic psychologists. While psychologists who specialize in therapeutic psychology are held to a high standard of confidentiality (with the exception of imminent threat or harm being posed to the client or others), forensic psychologists are usually required to report their findings to the court, or agency, which mandated the screening. 

Once again, the important thing to keep in mind is whether that client is seeking out voluntary treatment vs. involuntary assessment. With an involuntary psychological evaluation, one should always assume that the results of the screening, or interview, will likely be discussed with an outside agency, in order to determine the next best course of action. 

Both therapeutic psychologists and forensic psychologists play a vital role in society. Being able to identify and distinguish between the functions of therapeutic and forensic psychology is crucial in order to identify the right specialist for the job. 

 

If you are in need of a Forensic Psychologist, look no further! Contact us today. 

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nonverbal communication

Nonverbal Communication Skills

Don’t underestimate the power of your nonverbal communication skills

Pretty much everyone has heard of the saying “read between the lines”. Well, the same can be true for communication as well. Nonverbal communication is reading body language such as facial expressions, hand gestures, touch, and movement. It can even include the tone of someone’s verbal communication.

Why Nonverbal communication is important

First impressions are largely made within seven seconds of meeting someone. That’s a short span of time. So a lot of it comes down to reading body language. We as people transmit so much information about ourselves through nonverbal communication and we don’t even realize it. The way we walk, for example, can give off cues as to how confident a person is. A person moving their feet a lot can show they are anxious about something.

Another reason why nonverbal communication is important is that it helps counselors and healthcare providers in building a good rapport with their patients. When this happens then the patient is more willing to open up about feelings or behaviors they otherwise would not have.

Types of Nonverbal skills

There are 9 types of nonverbal communication.

  • Kinesics
  • Haptics
  • Proxemics
  • Territory
  • Environment
  • Paralinguistic’s
  • Chronemics
  • Attractiveness
  • Olfactics

Kinesics is all about how we move our body, head, hands, and arms. This type of nonverbal communication also includes the facial expressions we make.

Haptics is the physical contact or touch that we have with others. A handshake when meeting someone is a form of this. Our haptics can characterize the relationship we have with someone.

Proxemics is all about space and distance. How people use the space around them can show the level of discomfort someone is feeling.

Territory gives you a sense of a person’s power. People who open up their bodies and take up space portray having power.

Environment is about the objects we surround ourselves with to give off a certain impression.

Paralinguistic’s analyzes how someone is speaking. This involves listening to the pitch, tone, volume, tempo, and articulation.

Chronemics is how a person uses their time. This includes the punctuality of a person or their willingness to wait for something or someone.

Attractiveness isn’t just about the physical appeal. Maintaining a good level of eye contact, having a lively face, and open gestures are also part of our attractiveness.

Olfactics is how we assess smells.

Take Away

Our body language is a crucial part of our communication with others. It helps us to deliver clear messages and create a good impression on others. We use it to show our feelings about things and people. So do not underestimate the power of your nonverbal communication.

If you feel like you need help with your verbal or nonverbal communication, please reach out to our team.
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perspective

Developing Perspective

The Power of Perspective 

Everyone knows that individuals have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Some people are incredibly kind, and others might be especially brave. But there is a virtue that many people overlook, and it’s actually one of the most important.  Here we talk about developing perspective and how to see things differently. 

What is Perspective?

Individuals who are high in their perspective skill are generally full of wisdom. They’re able to see the forest through the trees and can use their knowledge and life experiences to have a balanced view of any situation or scenario. In other words, they’re able to tell when the “glass is half full or half empty”. 

Perspective is an important skill to have because it bridges the gap between cognitive ability and empathetic feeling. It’s an essential virtue that allows individuals to use their strengths in both a social and logical context. 

Benefits of Developing Perspective

People who have lofty perspective skills are generally better able to learn from their mistakes, as well as accept and repent for the consequences of their actions. 

Other benefits to having high perspective include: 

  • Generally able to give sage advice
  • Linked to wellbeing in older adults (physically and socioeconomically)

How to Improve Perspective

The development of perspective skills has been linked to cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy is helpful in identifying and diminishing negative thoughts, and refocusing that energy on managing emotions. Having and keeping perspective in mind can help counteract anxiety, depression, and general negativity. 

There are other ways to develop perspective other than therapy. In fact, one of the easiest ways to do so is to approach situations with the following questions: 

  • What’s the best/worst thing that could happen here? Now, what’s most likely?
  • What are other people thinking and feeling that I might not be?
  • Will this matter tomorrow, next week, or next year?

Keeping these questions in mind when dealing with hard situations can help turn anyone into a well-rounded, highly perspective person. 

Other Skills to Use 

perspective

While perspective is a really important skill, it’s not the be-all-end-all of personal virtues. That being said, it can be considered a signature strength because it can help improve and strengthen other skills. 

The strengths that developing perspective can help improve include, but are not limited to:

  • Positivity
  • Decision Making
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Forgiveness

Perspective Out of Balance

People who overuse their perspective skills are often seen as preachy, and the amount of insight they’re giving is usually unwanted and unappreciated. On the other hand, people who lack in their perspective skills can come across as disconnected or emotionally unavailable. 

 

If you find yourself feeling to off balance, talk to someone.  We can always help. 

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meaningful work environment

Enabling a Meaningful Work Environment 

Enabling a Meaningful Work Environment 

A Meaningful Work Environment 

Creating a meaningful workplace is becoming more and more important to employers. When employees are engaged in a meaningful work environment, they will feel more motivated and satisfied. Ultimately, this will lead to an overall increase in productivity and quality of services. Employers should be conscious of the dynamic they are creating in the workplace through their leadership choices. There have been many studies conducted on best practices for making a more meaningful work environment. Listed below are a few ideas of how to create a more meaningful work environment. 

Create a Shared Goal 

Employers should make it a point to make sure all of their employees are on the same page about their organizations’ shared goals and outcomes. Creating a higher purpose will give employees daily motivation. It will also keep employees connected. Having a shared goal can decrease conflict within the work environment. When everyone is working for a common purpose, collaboration and cooperation may come much easier. The shared goal should be known by every employee in the organization, regardless of role. This goal should be connected to the overall impact of the company on the larger society. 

Reinforce Prosocial Behaviors 

meaningful work environmentProsocial behaviors are behaviors that support others. In the workplace, this can look like giving “kudos” to someone on work performance, collaborating successfully, and stepping in when needed. If an employer places prosocial behaviors as a priority, employees are more likely to make prosocial behaviors a priority. When prosocial behaviors are a part of the everyday work environment, people tend to enjoy going to work more. When employees have the “it’s not my job” mentality, tension or division may be created. Employers should find ways to incorporate prosocial values into a reward system. Some organizations choose to incorporate them into evaluations, yearly rewards/bonuses, and even mentoring programs. 

Prioritize Mental Health 

Mental Health is beginning to come to the forefront of workplace jargon. Depending on your industry, your employees’ mental health can directly impact their career performance. Organizations are beginning to see the importance of mental health, and its role in it. Employers should brainstorm ways to positively add to their employees’ mental health. Employers can provide extra breaks, less workload, and even more vacation time if possible. Some organizations even offer a stipend for a gym membership. Every company is different, but the employees’ mental health should be the main concern no matter what. 

 

If you are finding you need some extra reassurance, contact our office here. 

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preparing for a psychological evaluation

Preparing for a Psychological Evaluation

Prepare for a Psychological Exam 

If you just found out you need to go for a psychological evaluation for social security, it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. With an increase of psychiatric disabilities and people unable to work as a result of these disabilities, it’s important to understand how these psychological evaluations work in the disability application process. The application process for SSI and SSDI is quite similar. The only difference is if you don’t have a lot of work history or work credits you will need to apply for SSI, a need-based program. If you have worked for many years, you may have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, but the process is still the same. If social security doesn’t have enough medical history for you, they will send you to an evaluation with a professional. 

A psychological evaluation, also known as a mental consultative test is with a professional examiner to better understand your condition. Social security will send you to one of these exams in the event there is not enough history in the claimant’s medical records. The exam is completed by an independent doctor that has no affiliation with the Social Security Administration to ensure there are no bias opinions in the exam. During the psychological exam, there are several texts the examiner will complete to include:

• Memory test

• Mood

• Depression

• Language skills

• Awareness 

• Counting 

• Who the current president is

• Talk about your childhood 

During the exam, the evaluator will watch you from the moment you pull into the parking lot. Once you get into the building, the examiner will take you into the room and note how you walk and act. If you allege you have a personality or mood disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the mental health examiner will discuss your symptoms and how you deal with them each day. If you allege other mental health issues such as panic attacks, anxiety, or depression, the examiner will talk about these symptoms, how you get out of the home, deal with family and the public. The doctor will also discuss your work history, medical history, medication history, establish identity to confirm who you are and typical daily activities.

preparing for a psychological evaluationYou can prepare for the psychological evaluation by thinking and writing down some of your symptoms and how long they have lasted. Identifying what triggers your symptoms and what you do to decrease your symptoms. The night before the exam, have a good dinner and good night’s sleep as this will help you the following day. 

At the completion of the exam, the doctor you saw will need to write a report to the social security examiner about their findings and opinions about your disability within ten days. This will allow the disability examiner the opportunity to make a decision on your case. Mental consultative exams usually have enough evidence and strongly considered by the medical examiner when deciding a case. If you do not attend the mental health exam, there is a possibility your claim could be denied. 

If you need an exam, contact our office. 

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understanding forensic psychology

Understanding Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology and Psychological Assessments

Due to the proliferation of crime TV shows, there has been an increased interest in understanding Forensic Psychology. Profiling criminals and capturing them by the end of a 1-hour program can be satisfying, but it is an unrealistic portrayal of law enforcement and psychologists, specifically forensic psychologists. Forensic psychology combines psychology and the law in which psychology is applied to issues regarding the law and legal system. Individuals working in this field may not be licensed “forensic psychologists,” but school psychologists, clinical psychologists, or counselors whose psychological expertise is utilized in legal cases. These experts may assist in the following ways.

  • Child custody evaluations
  • Consult with law enforcement
  • Testimony as an expert witness
  • Psychological services to inmates

One hallmark of forensic psychology is the use of tests and assessments to diagnose, provide a recommendation, or give a hypothesis about an individual’s behavior, personality, and skills. A psychological assessment can include a battery of tests to provide a full picture of a person’s behavior, traits, and capabilities. The four components of psychological assessments include norm-referenced tests, observations, interviews, and informal assessments.

Norm-references Tests
Norm-referenced tests are psychological tests standardized on a norm group that allows individualized scores to be ranked according to a scale. These tests can assess intelligence, academic achievement, motor skills, and adaptive behavior. Norm-referenced tests provide information about an individual’s level of functioning in a relatively short period of time.

Observations
Observations are best in the individual’s natural settings, such as at home, in the community, and at school. This allows the psychologist to determine how the person behaves across settings and provides a clearer picture of their overall functioning. This particular method can be instrumental in providing treatment recommendations and determining competency.

understanding forensic psychologyInterviews
Interviews are more fluid and less structured than standardized testing. Respondents can share background information, such as childhood history and work experience. This allows the individual to tell their story in their own words and share information that may not organically appear in more structured testing.

Informal Assessments
Informal assessments may include projective tests, language samples, and drawings from children. While these tests need to be cautiously evaluated, as they are not scientifically validated as norm-reference tests, they may shed light and be a supplement to the overall battery of tests.

While criminal TV shows may not accurately portray the field of understanding forensic psychology, they have highlighted the importance of experts in this field and their assistance in legal matters. When psychology and the law interacts, experts can use their clinical skills to assess and evaluate individuals to improve their diagnoses, recommendations, and evaluations.

 

If you need a Forensic Psychologist, we are here for you. 

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