One of my young adult patients recently noticed a Diploma in my office indicating that I was a Diplomate of the American College of Forensic Examiners and asked me why did I want to be a Forensic Psychologist? It gave me the opportunity to talk with him about how I ended up working at the intersection of the legal world and clinical psychology.
After going to school for seven years and completing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, an Internship, and then a Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychology, I began a full time private practice. Since that time in 1984, I have seen literally thousands of children, adolescents, adults, and families, many of whom have been dealing with issues surrounding divorce. In my first 10 years of practice, I found that among the most challenging and difficult situations that children and parents go through, is a divorce. In 1998,I became eligible to apply for certification in Forensic Psychology through The American College of Forensic Examiners and have been certified since that time. While my clinical practice is typically full, I leave one day per week for other professional activities, one of which is Forensic Psychological Evaluations. This work primarily involves child custody issues, and the development of co-parenting and visitation plans. Secondarily, I have also performed evaluations in regard to personal injury as well as fitness for duty assessments. I limit my forensic work to these areas and refer to my forensic psychologist colleagues for other areas of forensic work such as evaluating persons accused of criminal offenses, competency issues, and legal definitions of insanity.
My work as a clinical psychologist has provided me with a foundation upon which to evaluate children and families within my role as a forensic psychologist. I have been involved in child custody evaluations in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and Orange Counties. While these evaluations have been challenging, they also have been some of the most important work I have done in helping parents and children move forward.
Being a forensic psychologist in Westchester County has clearly been rewarding. Having recently opened up an office in Ridgefield CT, I will be looking forward to developing a Forensic Psychology practice in Fairfield County as well. My long standing commitment to careful and comprehensive evaluations along with the best interests of children, is a natural interface with the role of a Forensic Psychologist in the court system. So often, abbreviated assessments authorized by court sanctioned agencies, who do the best job they can with the limited time they can devote to a family system, is sadly what is common in Forensic Psychological Evaluations.
My forensic evaluations often involve up to 40 hours of interviews, telephone consultations, observations, psychological testing data, and review of important documents. Collectively this allows me to offer attorneys and the Court an in-depth and comprehensive evaluation that provides meaningful input. I have succeeded when I help parents who are at odds with one another avoid inflicting emotional scars on their children and find common ground with a peaceful outcome. From here, I help all the parties see an opportunity to embark upon a path free from the anger and the hurt underneath.