Third Party Presence During Criminal Forensic Evaluations: Psychologists' Opinions, Attitudes, and Practices

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Abstract

If you are a psychologist who conducts forensic evaluations, how would you respond to an attorney's or family member's request to be present or to videotape the evaluation? Your answer may be impacted by legal, professional, ethical, and practical issues as addressed in legal and mental health publications. However, there is a dearth of empirical attention, and even the opinions and practices of psychologists in this arena are unclear. The present article addresses the need for empirical data on third party presence by surveying forensic clinicians' perspectives on the topic. A total of 160 forensic practitioners (41% response rate) provided information on their attitudes and practices pertaining to third parties in an evaluation. Overall, most clinicians believe third party presence can negatively impact an evaluation, yet most have conducted examinations under such conditions. The article concludes with speculation as to the impact of third party presence, a call for research and professional standards, and specific guidelines for psychologists who may struggle with these complex issues.

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