The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 300 million people (3.8% of 7.8 billion) suffer from depression. Such conditions can have a significant influence on a person’s actions and the way they interact with others. A forensic assessment affords trained mental health professionals an opportunity to evaluate a person’s past, present, and future psychological health to help ensure fair outcomes in legal proceedings. Here’s an overview of what happens during a forensic assessment.
Evaluation of Documents
During a forensic assessment, a psychologist or psychiatrist will closely evaluate various documents, such as medical records, arrest reports, school records, and the like. Criminal records and past mental health treatment are often particular areas of focus. Reviewing records will aid the mental health professional in developing a foundational understanding of the patient.
The psychologist or psychiatrist will also likely interview the patient. During this interview, the mental health professional may ask questions about the patient’s social and personal history. They may also examine the patient’s experiences and any potential symptoms. Various tests may be administered. For example, cognitive functions may be tested. In addition to the patient, family members, coworkers, friends, and other people may also be interviewed.
Outside of interviews, a mental health professional may also observe the patient in various environments. For example, the psychologist or psychiatrist may observe the patient during a court appearance. Examining how patients behave in real-world scenarios can ultimately yield valuable insights into their mental health.
Some forensic assessments will be limited in scope and nature, and they may take only a few hours or days to complete. Other forensic assessments will take much longer to complete and may evolve into thorough investigations involving multiple parties. Further, the tools that a psychologist or psychiatrist uses may vary from case to case. Once the forensic assessment is completed, the psychologist or psychiatrist will typically put together a comprehensive report that summarizes their findings. This report may include risk assessments, such as the likelihood of a patient committing criminal acts in the future.
Are you involved in a legal case that requires you to undergo a forensic assessment? If so, Elements Psychological Services can provide the assistance you need to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us today to learn more.