Showing posts with label training opportunities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training opportunities. Show all posts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Innovative international risk assessment service is expanding

Try your hand at answering these questions:

  1. When evaluating Aboriginal offenders, how valid are standard risk assessment protocols? 

  2. Among Canadian men, how well does the Danger Assessment (DA) predict domestic violence? 

  3. For sex offenders in Vermont, what instrument is more accurate than the widely used Static-99 for predicting recidivism? 

  4. In screening U.S. soldiers coming back from Afghanistan, is there a valid tool that would help allocate limited therapeutic resources in order to decrease violence risk? 

  5. Finally, what the heck are the Y-ARAT, the CuRV, the START, and the VIO-SCAN, and what (if anything) are they good for?

With the frenetic pace of risk assessment research and practice developments, you couldn't be faulted for not knowing the correct answers to all of the above questions. Hardly anyone does.

That’s where the Executive Bulletin comes in.

Back in February, I told you about the launch of this service for clinicians, attorneys and researchers who want to stay abreast of developments in the field of risk assessment. The publishers scour more than 80 professional journals and create a one-page summary for each article relevant to violence and sex offending risk assessment among adults and juveniles. Using an appealing, easy-to-read format, each summary highlights the study's clinical implications and relevant legal questions, while minimizing statistical jargon. 

In the months since my announcement, the Bulletin has been gaining traction around the world. It now reaches more than 11,000 practitioners, researchers, and policymakers in the United States, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Israel, the Netherlands, Mexico, Lithuania, Norway and Denmark. Among its largest subscribers are the California Department of State Hospitals -- which requires that its forensic evaluators read each monthly issue in order to stay abreast of peer-reviewed research into evidence-based practice -- and the public-policy oriented Council of State Governments in the United States.

The newly rebranded Global Institute of Forensic Research (GIFR), with the ever-energetic forensic psychologist Jay Singh at its helm, is currently rolling out a new features and services, including a new website, a podcast version of the Bulletin for commuters, and expert risk assessment trainings (free to subscribers) that are eligible for continuing education credits from the American Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association.

The service is subscription-based. At $35 per month (and $350 for group subscriptions) it isn’t cheap, but Dr. Singh points out that the alternatives are also costly. It’s both costly and time consuming to stay abreast of important risk-related articles from more than 80 journals, most of them fee-based. Thus, without a synthesizing service such as the Bulletin, practitioners risk falling behind and inadvertently violating relevant standards of practice.

Among my own main concerns if I am going to allow someone else to find and synthesize research for my consumption is the degree of fidelity and expertise that the reviewer brings to bear. Here, the field is fortunate to have someone upon whom we can confidently rely. What I find most valuable about the Bulletin is the level of critical analysis that the expert reviewers bring to bear on each of the 15 or 20 articles they summarize each month. (Indeed, my confidence is why I accepted an invitation a while back to serve on the Institute’s advisory board.)

Singh, an epidemiology professor at Molde University in Norway, has published more than 40 cutting-edge articles on violence prediction (a few of which I have featured in prior blog posts). Formerly a fellow of the Florida Mental Health Institute and a Senior Researcher in Forensic Psychiatry for the Swiss Department of Corrections in Zurich, he has also trained and lectured widely on mental illness and violence, including at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania.

To date, his Institute has conducted exclusive interviews on tips and tricks in forensic assessment with leading practitioners and scholars including Jodi Viljoen, Nicholas Scurich, Annelies Vredeveldt and -- most recently -- Jennifer Lanterman of the University of Nevada at Reno. Next month’s featured expert is Seena Fazel of Oxford University. You can browse the website and find a sample issue HERE.

If you decide to sign up (or, better yet, get your institution to sign up), Singh is offering my blog readers and subscribers a special 10 percent discount. Just click on THIS LINK, and enter the discount code INTHENEWS.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Free articles of potential interest

From time to time, publishers alert me to articles and collections that they have made freely available online (sometimes for limited periods of time). Here are a few such offerings that I thought might be of interest to this blog's audience:

TREATMENT OF ADULT AND JUVENILE SEX OFFENDING - CURRENT APPROACHES: The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy has made an entire special issue, edited by Phil Rich, available freely online. There are some great articles here. 

POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER - article collection: Routledge has made available a collection of 17 articles on PTSD from its various academic journals. Click on the link and then scroll over an article to download it. 

Circles of Support and Accountability: How and Why They Work for Sex Offenders, Mechtild Höing, Stefan Bogaerts, and Bas Vogelvang

Assessing Risk of Violence Using Structured Professional Judgment Guidelines, Laura S. Guy,
Ira K. Packer, and William Warnken

The Criminal Profiling Reality: What is Actually Behind the Smoke and Mirrors?,
Richard N. Kocsis

Service Needs for Incarcerated Adults: Exploring Gender Differences, Gina Fedock, Lauren Fries, and Sheryl Pimlott Kubiak

Reflections on Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Crime, Laura S. Guy, Stacey L. Shipley,
and Teresa C. Tempelmeyer 

Residents’ Perceptions of Procedural Injustice During Encounters With the Police, Amie Schuck
and Christine Martin

Abuse as a Form of Strain Among Native American and White Female Prisoners: Predictors of Substance-Related Offenses and Recidivism, Lindsey E. Vigesaa

Conviction Odds in Chicago Homicide Cases: Does Race/Ethnicity Matter?, Christine Martin

The Impact of Indigenous Status on Adult Sentencing: A Review of the Statistical Research Literature From the United States, Canada, and Australia, Samantha Jeffries and Christine E.W. Bond

The Impact of Population Selection on Examinations of Discretionary Searches in Traffic Stops
Steven J. Briggs and B. Keith Crew

Juvenile Justice Interventions: System Escalation and Effective Alternatives to Residential Placement, Stephanie Bontrager Ryon, Kristin Winokur Early, Gregory Hand, and Steven Chapman

Findings of a Formative Evaluation of a Transitional Housing Program for Forensic Patients Discharged into the Community, Rebecca Cherner, Joan Nandlal, John Ecker, Tim Aubry, and & Donna Pettey

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Invitation to social media and ethics workshop June 7

Training by Keely Kolmes and Karen Franklin

Do you ever stop and think about your professional use of social media -- whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email listservs, or even your own website or blog?

Hopefully, the answer is "yes."

Social media offer unprecedented professional opportunities. But maintaining one's privacy, reputation and ethical bearings can also be challenging when navigating the Internet's unpredictable currents.

Which is why my local psychological association has decided to host a training on the topic of "Ethics, Pitfalls, and Emergent Opportunities in Social Media."

I would like to issue a special invitation to all of my blog subscribers and readers to attend this continuing education workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, June 7. I am especially excited because I am co-presenting with Keely Kolmes, a dynamic trainer who is perhaps the foremost expert on social media for psychologists. Dr. Kolmes writes, does research, and provides consultation and training on clinical and ethical issues related to social networking and technology. Her Private Practice Social Media Policy has been internationally taught and adapted across health disciplines. She also serves on the state psychological association's ethics committee.

We will provide an introduction to digital ethics as it applies to social networking, online marketing, and other Internet activities. After reviewing research on therapist and client behavior on the Internet, we will offer guidelines for anticipating and managing problems that may arise from online activities.

We will also discuss a topic near and dear to my heart -- professional branding, and the advantages and disadvantages of websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and other types of online visibility. We plan to incorporate vignettes and encourage discussion to highlight divergent approaches to online activities in the digital age.

The event is co-sponsored by the Alameda County Psychological Association and Argosy University (the American School of Professional Psychology). It is free to members of the local chapter and Argosy students and faculty. The fee for non-members is $100 (which will be credited toward ACPA membership dues for those who join at the event) and $25 for students. Psychologists can also earn four hours of continuing education credit for this training.

The event takes places at the Argosy campus in Alameda, at 1005 Atlantic Avenue, from noon to 4:00 p.m. More information is available HERE; directions to the campus are HERE. Advance reservations are required; to reserve, email Cecelia Pena (click HERE).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dutch forensic psychology blog interviews this blogger

Forensic psychology bloggers are few and far between, so I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Harald Merckelbach, a psychology professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands who co-hosts -- you guessed it -- a "Forensische Psychologie Blog." Maastricht University, in case you are not familiar with it, is an internationally oriented school that -- together with Portsmouth in the UK and Gotheborg in Sweden hosts a three-year Ph.D. program in legal psychology funded by the European Union that is open to excellent candidates from the USA and Canada (check it out HERE).

Dr. Merckelbach interviewed me for his blog. In case you aren't fluent in Dutch, I thought I would post the English version of the interview, "Van Journalist Naar Forensisch Psycholoog: Interview met Karen Franklin":

* * * * *

Dr. Merckelbach: Can you give some background statistics on your forensic psychology blog? 

Dr. Franklin: Thanks for the opportunity to give you some background on the blog. When I started the blog seven years ago, it was just out of curiosity, dipping my toe into online media. I never imagined it would grow to its current size and scope. Now, almost a thousand posts later, the blog and my mirror blog at Psychology Today (“Witness”) have gotten about 700,000 hits, and the subscriber base just keeps growing. But more than the quantity of subscribers and readers, I have been gratified by the quality. Subscribers cross professional disciplines and include forensic practitioners, attorneys, professors, researchers, criminologists, journalists, students and public policy advocates. The majority are from English-speaking countries including the United States, Canada, England and Australia. But subscribers also hail from dozens of other countries, from Saudi Arabia and Turkey to Scotland and Lithuania. Not to mention the Netherlands, of course.

Dr. Merckelbach:  You were trained as journalist and legal reporter before you entered the forensic psychology scene. In your post “What’s it take to become a forensic psychologist?” you say that forensic psychologists should have excellent writing skills. Did your career as a journalist help you in that regard? Do you think that forensic psychology programs should include courses on journalism? 

Dr. Franklin: My education and training in journalism has definitely been a big asset. (And it is undoubtedly what spurred me to start the blog, as once writing gets in your blood, it’s hard to stop.) Journalism school teaches writing as a craft, and working in the field -- as a daily newspaper reporter – forces a certain efficiency in writing. In my graduate school teaching, I have definitely noticed that many students do not realize how critical writing precision is to success as a forensic psychologist. Only a small portion of forensic cases result in expert witness testimony. But almost all involve a written report. So our reputations rest largely on our written product. I don’t think psychology programs need to include courses on journalism, but I would certainly favor a lot more focused attention to students’ report-writing skills. I try to teach my students to edit their work carefully, and to take the time to produce multiple drafts, rather than thinking that they are finished after they have typed out a first draft. Writing is hard work, and requires concentrated practice.

That post on forensic psychology as a career is my most popular blog post, by the way. Posted back in 2007, it still gets multiple hits every day, attesting to the popularity of this field.

Psychology Professor Harald Merckelbach
Dr. Merckelbach:  It is impressive to see on your site this listing of highly diverse topics that you wrote about: 35 on psychological testing, 81 on expert witnesses, 60 on wrongful convictions, 27 on malingering and so on. What is the topic that keeps you awake most? 

Dr. Franklin: That’s a great question. When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a specific focus. I didn’t know whether to cover the field broadly or focus in on a few topics more narrowly. I wasn’t sure whether to do straight reporting or critical commentary. One beauty of blogging, it turns out, is that you can do both, like being a news reporter who also writes a weekly opinion column. But it took me awhile to find my voice.

Looking around the blogosphere, I was especially influenced by Vaughan Bell, who hosts a superb neuroscience blog called Mind Hacks, and Scott Henson, a fellow ex-journalist who writes about Texas justice at Grits for Breakfast. Both of them are skillful at blending facts and analysis. They are also far more prolific than I will ever be.

Gradually, I did find my own voice. I realized that there are plenty of academic journals supplying research findings. And there are plenty of news stories on any given topic, easily accessible through a quick Internet search. And running a blog all by myself, in my spare time, I could never hope to cover everything. So the best way I could be of service to the professional community was to provide a critical perspective on major issues and developments in the field, things that captured my attention and that I felt passionate about.

I can’t say that any topic keeps me awake at night. But an overarching concern of my blog is the ways that bureaucracies of social control deploy forensic psychology to provide a scientific veneer for injustice. So, for example, here in the United States we see the prejudicial label of “psychopathy” being used as a scientific rationale for sending juveniles to adult prisons for life. And what is most alarming is when forensic psychologists within the institutions of containment rationalize such practices as serving the greater good. This theme of moral disengagement, which grew out of my blog writings, became the topic of my keynote speech to the national association of forensic psychologists in Australia a few years ago. It’s a dangerously slippery slope. We end up with the American Psychological Association deciding not to punish psychologist John Leso for participating in the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo, a blatant human rights violation.

Dr. Merckelbach: Apropos malingering: some years ago, you wrote an article on 22-year-old Mr. Chavez who was sentenced to 25 years of prison because he had walked around with a weapon that he occasionally fired, while exhibiting bizarre behavior. The state hospital experts testified that he was a malingerer, but you – as a defense retained expert – discovered that they had based their opinions on erroneous scoring and interpretation of a malingering test (the SIRS). A disturbing story. Do you think that this type of problem occurs on a wide scale? 

Dr. Franklin: Yes, I do believe this is more widespread than is generally recognized. Whenever you have concentrations of people with no social power and no voice, such as in prisons and psychiatric hospitals, you are going to have abuses. That is what Piper Kerman illustrated so well in her bestselling memoir, Orange is the New Black, about her year in a women’s prison. In the Chavez case, it was a novice intern working under lax supervision. Professionals in government hospitals and prisons tend to get institutionalized, and some of them stop seeing their subjects as worthy human beings. This gets back to the issue of our moral and ethical obligation not to collude in injustice. I’m reminded of the case I just read about in which a man spent most of the past 40 years locked up in a psychiatric hospital for the theft of a $20 necklace. The poor guy, Franklin Frye, was 70 years old before someone finally noticed. I mean, how does that happen? Why wasn’t anyone paying attention?

Dr. Merckelbach: I like your blogs about biases, for example the one about authorship bias, i.e. the phenomenon that test designers report more hallelujah statistics about their risk assessment tools than independent researchers. Makes one think of researchers who are involved in the Prozac business. It leaves one with a somewhat gloomy impression of our discipline. Do you, at moments, say to yourself: "What a field, let’s get back to journalism?"

Dr. Franklin: I got out of journalism when I saw the writing on the wall, just as corporate monopolization began to get a stranglehold on the industry. The newspaper that I worked for was bought by a chain that was only interested in profits. And that has now happened throughout the newspaper industry. Rupert Murdoch’s empire now stretches around the globe, and Amazon’s billionaire owner just bought the Washington Post. That latter purchase was especially iconic for me, because I entered journalism school during the heyday of muckraking journalism, when Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were being heralded as role models for exposing the Watergate scandal and bringing down a corrupt administration. So, no, I haven’t regretted leaving journalism. After all, I can always blog!

Dr. Merckelbach:  What about writing a book in which you bring together all these fine blogs?

Dr. Franklin:  I’ve thought about it. I just have to find the time.

Thanks again for asking me to do this interview, and also for your own fine blog. I’ve been amazed at the dearth of forensic psychology blogs, so I was excited to discover yours. I hope others will join in. Blogging can be time consuming, but it’s also rewarding.

Dr. Merckelbach:  Thank you very much for this interview, Dr Franklin!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Risk researchers launching premium literature service

The Alliance for International Risk Research (AIRR) is launching an excellent new risk assessment resource for mental health, correctional, and legal professionals. The AIRR Executive Bulletin is being called "an exceptional resource that lawyers on both sides, judges, examiners and the rest of us practitioners in these areas of forensic mental health, treatment and law should subscribe to in order to begin to implement a uniform body of current literature and ‘Best Practices’ that continually updates going forward to facilitate development of a legal and constitutional body of law."

The subscription-based service is designed for busy professionals who want to stay up to date but simply do not have the time to locate and read the voluminous literature published each month. It aggregates research on risk assessment for violence, sex offending and general recidivism among adults and juveniles.

AIRR researchers Jay Singh and Kevin Douglas
An expert team led by top risk assessment researchers Jay Singh and Kevin Douglas systematically searches more than 80 journals and identifies every new risk assessment article published each month. The average is around 20 articles. Doctors Singh and Douglas then purchase and read every article and write a one-page, easy-to-digest summary without statistical jargon.

In addition to the monthly summary of literature, subscribers also get four online risk assessment training seminars per year from top clinical researchers, and an exclusive monthly interview with an industry leader. It's a convenient way to get continuing education credits, because the trainings are eligible for American Psychological Association and Canadian Psychological Association credits.

A sample issue is available HERE

You can sign up for either an individual or a group subscription HERE.  For questions, contact lead reasearcher Jay Singh (HERE).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Psycholegal evaluations in Immigration Court: Free online training series

Feb. 5 UPDATE: The first webinar in this series was a huge success. To register for any or all of the remaining three webinars, click HERE.

Torture victims from El Salvador. Gay people from Uganda. Immigrants with elderly dependents who are U.S. citizens.

In our increasingly multicultural society, more and more people find themselves in U.S. Immigration Court. And, often, psychological evaluations play a role in deciding their fates. Unfortunately, most immigrants applying for political asylum or hardship waivers have very little money, creating an acute need for psychologists willing and able to provide low-fee evaluations.

Working to fulfill this need is my hard-working colleague Anatasia Kim, a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley and chair of the Immigration Task Force of the California Psychological Association. Dr. Kim is spearheading a drive to train a cadre of psychologists to conduct these evaluations. In exchange for conducting low-fee or pro bono evaluations, psychologists and students will get free mentorship by expert forensic psychologists and attorneys in the field.  

As part of the campaign, the Immigration Task Force is hosting a four-part Webinar series in February aimed at teaching the basic competencies. Immigration attorneys and psychologists will train virtual attendees on the nuts and bolts of conducting psycholegal evaluations in immigration courts.

Best of all, the series is entirely FREE. You can even earn continuing education credits (one unit per session).

The four workshops, each running from noon to 1:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) on
a Tuesday, are:

Feb. 4: Basics of Conducting a Psychological Evaluation for Immigration Court. Nancy Baker, Ph.D., ABPP, Diplomate in Forensic Psychology, Director of Forensic Concentration at Fielding Graduate University

Feb. 11: Legal Relevance of Psychologists’ Opinions in the Immigration Context. Robin Goldfaden, Esq., Senior Attorney, Immigrant Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Lisa Fryman, Esq., Associate Director/Managing Attorney, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at U.C. Hastings College of Law

Feb. 18: Recommended Immigration Evaluation Process for Hardship Cases. Margaret Lee, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Professor, Alliant International University, San Diego and Former Clinical Director at Survivors of Torture International

Feb. 25: Writing Psychological Assessment Reports for Immigration Court. James Livingston, Ph.D., Senior Staff Psychologist, Center for the Survivors of Torture in San Jose.

You can register for the first training HERE

If you have any questions, email Dr. Kim HERE.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

California conference to highlight juvenile treatment

Michael Caldwell, co-founder of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Wisconsin, will share his Center’s innovative approach to treating hard-core juvenile offenders at this year’s Forensic Mental Health Association of California (FMHAC) conference.

Caldwell, whose research on juvenile risk assessment has been highlighted on this blog, says the Mendota approach has been proven to reduce violent offense among the extreme end of intractable juvenile delinquents who absorb such a disproportionate amount of rehabilitation resources and account for a large proportion of violent crimes.

His two workshops are part of a special juvenile track that will also feature a session on introducing the practice of mindfulness to incarcerated juveniles.

The juvenile track is one of five special tracks at this year’s FMHAC conference, coming up March 19 in beautiful Monterey, California. The other tracks are clinical/assessment, legal, psychiatric and, of course, the omnipresent sex offender track.

More details and registration information can be found HERE.The FMHAC's website is HERE.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Free, one-stop shopping: Bulletin showcases new violence articles

The first monthly bulletin from the Alliance for International Risk Research just hit my email box, collating August's journal offerings on violence risk assessment and management. A quick sampling from the 17 articles listed:

  • Large MM, Ryan CJ, Callaghan S, Paton MB, and Singh SP (2013) Can violence risk assessment really assist in clinical decisionmaking? Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (online first Aug 2013)
  • Rettenberger M, Haubner-Maclean T, and Eher R (2013) The contribution of age to the Static-99 Risk Assessment in a population-based Prison sample of sexual offenders. Criminal Justice & Behavior (online first June 2013)
  • Lund C, Hofvander B, Forsman A, Anckarsater H, and Nilsson T (2013) Violent criminal recidivism in mentally disordered offenders: a follow-up study of 13-20 years through different sanctions. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 36, 250-257
  • Caldwell MF (2013) Accuracy of Sexually Violent Person Assessments of Juveniles Adjudicated for Sexual Offenses Sexual Abuse (online first March 2013).
AIRR's goal is to make information about the latest research on violence risk assessment available to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers for free. I you don't have access to an academic database you still have to find a way to access the articles themselves, but that can generally be done through a request of the author.) If you haven't already signed up to receive your monthly email, you can do so by clicking HERE

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Violence prevention: DC to host major collaborative venture

From U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to legal scholar Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, the speakers at next month's APA-ABA collaborative conference read like a who's who in the field of violence prevention.

To give a flavor:
  • Carl Hart, the neuroscientist whose memoir I recently featured, will speak on the contribution of U.S. drug policy to violence
  • James Garbarino, author of the terrific book Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, will address the developmental effects of violence -- a topic that forensic psychologists confront daily in our practices
  • Mary Ann Dutton, a leading researcher on domestic violence, will discuss preventing intimate partner violence
  • Patrick Tolan and Dewey Cornell will address youth violence in the schools 
  • Judge Jay Blitzman and colleagues will talk about disrupting the 'cradle to prison pipeline' by implementing alternatives to school suspension and exclusion 
  • Charlotte Patterson, a pioneer in LGBT research, will focus on reducing violence against sexual minorities 
  • Mark Soler, an attorney who taught my media law class way back in journalism school, will speak on alternatives to incarceration in juvenile justice 
  • Edward Mulvey will address mental illness and substance abuse in violence 
And that's just for starters. With more than 40 plenary and invited sessions, the lineup goes on and on, with a wide array of programming that should appeal to psychologists, attorneys, judges, legal and social science scholars, and anyone else interested in the roles of law and psychology in addressing the effects of violence:
  • Intergenerational transmission of violence
  • Violence in Native American communities
  • Offender reentry
  • Risk assessment and threat assessment
  • Hate crimes
  • Poverty and race in violence
  • Sexually violent offenders
  • Violence among military veterans
  • Elder abuse
  • and much more
A major goal of the conference, entitled "Addressing the Unspeakable: Confronting Family and Community Violence, The Intersection of Law and Psychology," is to build on the momentum of Eric Holder's Defending Childhood initiative, which aims to address the effects of violence on children, youth and families.

The conference is co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association and the American Bar Association, and continuation education credits will be provided for both legal and mental health professionals. Early registration ends this week, so register now if you're planning to attend.

The preliminary program is HERE; an overview of the event and its logistics is HERE; the online registration form is HERE

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dispatch from Queensland

Bond University, Robina, Queensland
The blog posts are piling up like jets on a crowded runway, but I haven't been able to carve out the time to send them aloft. It’s been a busy week, lecturing to the criminology and psychology departments at Bond University on Australia's Gold Coast and then giving a training to the College of Forensic Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society.

The wily kookaburra
Bond is a gorgeous place, designed by an eminent architect in Japan and opened 24 years ago as Australia’s first private university. It caters to a wide range of domestic and international students. The criminology master's program, for example, has students from as far away as Canada, the United States, Iceland and even Grenada.

A fellow tourist captures gorgeous Gold Coast shoreline
The faculty's interests are equally diverse. Raoul Mortley, the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, who invited me over as a visiting research scholar, is a scholar of philosophy and the history of ideas. Criminologist Robyn Lincoln, my generous host, has done a slew of fascinating research, including on aboriginals in the criminal justice system, the naming and shaming of juvenile offenders, and wrongful convictions. Currently, she and her students are out riding public buses as part of a research project looking at risks faced by bus drivers. Rebekah Doley, the forensic psychologist who supervises the master’s level psychology students and who graciously organized my career talk to students, and her colleague Kate Fritzon, meanwhile, have launched a pioneering, international institute for the study of arson.

View from Elephant Rock, Carrumba (photo credit: R. Doley)
As during my first trip to Queensland, two years ago for a national forensic psychology conference, I find the country a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively. The staff and students at Bond are well informed on local and international issues, and are keen to discuss critical perspectives on the field. (After Americans, Australians form my next-largest subscriber base.)

The infrastructure is so much healthier than in my homeland, with its crippling debt, astronomical incarceration rates, tightening police state apparatus, and legions of homeless roaming the streets. Everything's not perfect; aboriginal incarceration rates are 15 times higher than those of other Australians. (One in every four prisoners here is aboriginal, although aboriginals are only about 2 percent of the population.) But in general, the social safety net is much more solid. Australians find it mind-boggling to hear of an advanced nation without universal health care. Service workers are paid a living wage, so they need not grovel for tips. And I've only seen two presumably homeless people so far, and I've been keeping my eyes peeled.

Lifeguards in training, Broadbeach
It hasn't been all work. As you can see from the photos, I’ve squeezed in a bit of sightseeing and nature viewing. I cycled from my hotel along the Gold Coast to Burleigh Heads one day; another day, Robyn took me into the Hinterlands, to explore a rainforest. (Hence, the kookaburra, who is a consummate thief; just minutes after I got close enough to take this photo, the bird snatched a sandwich from the hands of an unwary little girl.) Watching for migrating humpback whales from my apartment's balcony has also taken up a good deal of my down time.
Sunrise from my apartment

Next up: Honolulu. It’s a rough life.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

International violence risk researchers launch free news service

I don't know about you, but I find it incredibly hard to keep up with the burgeoning research in risk assessment. In this era of international fear and carceral control, disciplines from psychology to criminology to nursing to juvenile justice are cranking out more articles each month, and the deluge can feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, two prominent researchers are offering to help us stay organized and up to speed -- for free. The newly created Alliance for International Risk Research (AIRR) will send out a monthly email containing references to all new articles related to forensic risk assessment from over 80 scholarly journals. And all you have to do is sign up.

Jay Singh and Kevin Douglas, AIRR Editors-in-Chief
The AIRR is brought to you by Jay Singh and Kevin Douglas. Dr. Singh, a newly appointed professor and senior researcher for the Department of Justice in Switzerland, is one of the best and brightest around (I've featured his important research on violence risk assessment more than once on this blog); Dr. Douglas is an award-winning psychology professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of the widely used HCR-20 violence risk assessment tool, among others. 

Their goal is to keep clinicians, policymakers, and researchers up to date in this rapidly evolving field, thus promoting evidence-based practices in the mental health and criminal justice systems. For articles published in languages other than English, the AIRR even boasts an "international coordinator" who will help disseminate the research to a global audience.

Signing up is easy: Just go to THIS LINK and provide your email contract information. The AIRR promises not to bother you with solicitations, survey participation requests or conference announcements -- "simply the latest risk-related research at your fingertips."

Don't delay! The first AIRR bulletin will be arriving in inboxes on Sept. 1.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Diagnostic controversies: Registration open for my Hawaii workshop

A shameless plug for my upcoming training workshop in Honolulu, sponsored by the American Psychological Association. CE's in paradise; what's not to like? To register (or get more information), click HERE.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Upcoming trainings: Assessment; personal injury; sexual violence; ethics in diagnosis

If you are planning to be in or around Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii or London over the next few months, here are some recommended forensic trainings on the horizon:

April 19 and onwards: Sexual violence workshops (London) 

Building on the success of the 2011 sexual violence workshops sponsored by the British Psychological Society (at which I spoke), Middlesex University is hosting another round of BPS-sponsored workshops on various aspects of sexual violence. Multiple-perpetrator rape is the topic of the first workshop, coming right up on April 19. (Also check out the new book, the first-ever text on this topic.) Next up are a June 27 workshop on "negotiating ethical sexual relationships," a Sept. 17 workshop on "intersectionality and sexual violence," and a fourth workshop on the investigation and prosecution of rape (date yet to be decided). All the workshops will be held at Middlesex University's Hendon Campus. More details are HERE.

April 20: Assessing Emotional Damages in Personal Injury and Employment Discrimination Cases (New Jersey)

William Foote, president of the American Psychology-Law Society (APA Division 41), will be presenting a five-stage model for assessing psychological damages in personal injury and workplace discrimination cases at the spring conference of the New Jersey Psychological Association. To find out more about this all-day training, click HERE.

May 3-5: New Directions in Forensic and Clinical Assessment (Florida)

Many big names in forensic psychology will descend upon Miami for this training sponsored by Division 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) of the American Psychological Association. The three-day conference will feature trainings on risk assessment, malingering, trial consultation, the DSM-5, intellectual disability, and much more. Information and registration can be found HERE

July 31: Controversial Psychiatric Diagnoses in Legal Settings (Hawaii) 

Yours truly is the trainer at this all-day continuing education workshop at the American Psychological Association's annual conference, along Honolulu's idyllic Waikiki Beach. I will focus on the scientific and practical limits of psychiatric diagnoses in forensic cases, and provide ethics guidance on how to present diagnostic testimony in court. Details are HERE; I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fremantle to host Australian forensic conference

I hope all of you Aussies out there are aware of the exciting forensic psychology conference coming up in April. The theme is timely: "The Times are a Changin': Controversies, Competencies, and DSM-5." Robert Krueger, a personality researcher at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Personality Disorders Workgroup for the DSM-5, will give a keynote focusing on issues specific to using the DSM-5 personality disorders in court. The other keynote speaker is Jane Goodman-Delahunty of Charles Sturt University, a prominent psychologist and attorney who will speak about psychological injuries from workplace harassment. The setting, for those of you who might want to travel to Australia to attend, is the western city of Fremantle, which bills itself as the best preserved 19th Century seaport in the world. (The conference alternates between eastern and western Australia; when I gave a keynote there two years ago, it was held in the idyllic resort setting of Noosa, in southern Queensland.) The website for the April 18-20 event is HERE; the full program  can be downloaded HERE. Don't procrastinate too long, as early-bird registration ends March 18.

Panorama of the Swan River Settlement (Fremantle), 1831 (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Upcoming forensic training opportunities

American Psychology-Law Society, March 7-9

For those of you planning to attend the American Psychology-Law Society conference in Portland Oregon on March 7-9, early-bird registration ends on February 1. This year’s lineup is very exciting. The conference website is HERE; details on the March 8 symposium that I will be chairing, "Emergent controversies in civil commitment evaluations of sexually violent predators” (as well as the pre-conference continuing education lineup) are HERE

Juvenile sex offender training, Feb. 11

Coming right up at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy in Charlottesville, Virginia is an advanced training on “Understanding and Treating Juvenile Sexual Offenders.” The presenter is nationally recognized expert John Hunter. Details are HERE.

Ethics in forensic practice training, May 3

Later in the spring, the Institute is offering another advanced workshop by nationally recognized presenter Alan Goldstein. Topics include competence to practice; confidentiality; roles of the expert; issues in assessment; responding to subpoenas; release of raw test data; report writing; and ultimate opinion testimony. The emphasis is on reducing the likelihood of potentially damaging cross-examination, ethics complaints and malpractice actions. Attendees are encouraged to prepare, in advance, a problem they encountered in their practice and submit it at the start of the workshop for review and possible discussion. More information is HERE.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Training: Controversies in sexually violent predator evaluations

I am excited to announce that the American Psychology-Law Society has accepted a panel that I put together on "Emergent controversies in civil commitment evaluations of sexually violent predators." I hope some of you will join me at the annual conference in Portland, Oregon on March 7-9.

The symposium will address three areas of controversy in the sex offender civil commitment field:

  • Mental abnormality and psychiatric diagnosis in court (my topic)
  • Recidivism risk assessment (addressed by my esteemed colleague Jeffrey Singer)
  • Volitional control (Frederick Winsmann, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, will present a promising new assessment model)
Here's the symposium abstract:
Over the past three decades, Sexually Violent Predator litigation has emerged as perhaps the most contentious area of forensic psychology practice. In an effort to assist the courts, a cadre of experts has proffered a confusing array of constantly changing assessment methods, psychiatric diagnoses, and theories of sex offending. Now, some federal and state courts are beginning to subject these often-competing claims to greater scrutiny, for example via Daubert and Frye evidentiary hearings. This symposium will alert forensic practitioners, lawyers and academics to some of the most prominent minefields on the SVP battleground, revolving around three central areas of contestation: psychiatric diagnosis, risk assessment, and the elusive construct of volitional control. The presenters will review recent scholarly literature and court rulings addressing: (1) the reliability and validity of psychiatric diagnoses in sexually dangerous person litigation, (2) forensic risk assessment tools and how risk data should be reported to triers of fact, and (3) how best to address the issue of volitional impairment, a Constitutionally required element for civil commitment. The focus will be on how to assist the courts while remaining within the limits of scientific knowledge and our profession's ethical boundaries.
The conference schedule hasn't been issued yet so I don’t know which day our panel is presenting, but I will keep you posted when I find out, probably in January. In the meantime, if you are looking to pick up Continuing Education (CE) credits, the pre-conference workshops are a good way to get some high-quality forensic training:
  • The ever-informative Randy Otto on "Improving Clinical Judgment and Decision Making in Forensic Psychological Evaluation," with a heavy focus on identifying and reducing bias (full-day workshop) 
  • Paul J. Frick on "Developmental Pathways to Conduct Disorder: Implications for Understanding and Treating Severely Aggressive and Antisocial Youth" (full-day workshop)
  • Amanda Zelechoski on "Trauma-Informed Care in Forensic Settings" (full-day workshop)
  • Kathy Pezdek on "How to Present Statistical Information to Judges and Jurors" (half-day workshop)
  • Steven Penrod on "Things That Jurors (and Judges) Ought to Know About Eyewitness Reliability" (half-day workshop)
Portland is a lovely city, especially in the spring, so register now, and mark your calendars for what is sure to be a lively and educational event.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Free access: British Journal of Forensic Practice

This week only, the British Journal of Forensic Practice is offering open access to all of its content. The journal covers a wide range of criminal justice topics, making it of potential interest for forensic practitioners, correctional professionals, academics, and those in allied fields. From my brief perusal, the journal appears to offer a refreshingly humanistic perspective, focusing on rehabilitation and critical analysis of current approaches. A few examples of recent articles and issues that caught my eye, all accessible this week (I've included links):

And that, folks, is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll need to browse the content yourself (HERE) to find the articles of special resonance with you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Long-awaited HCR-20 update to premiere in Scotland

The long-awaited international launch of the third version of the popular HCR-20 violence risk assessment instrument has been announced for next April in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The HCR-20 is an evidence-based tool using the structured professional judgment method, an alternative to the actuarial method that predicts violence at least as well while giving a more nuanced and individualized understanding. It has been evaluated in 32 different countries and translated into 18 languages.

A lot has changed in the world of risk prediction since the second edition premiered 15 years ago. Perhaps the major change in the third edition is the elimination of the need to incorporate a Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) score; research determined that this did not add to the instrument's predictive validity. Additionally, like the sister instrument for sex offender risk assessment, the RSVP, the HCR:V3 will focus more heavily on formulating plans to manage and reduce a person's risk, rather than merely predicting violence.

The revision process took four years, with beta testing in England, Holland, Sweden and Germany. Initial reports show very high correlations with the second edition of the HCR-20, excellent interrater reliability, and promising validity as a violence prediction tool.

The HCR:V3 will be launched at a one-day conference jointly organized by The Royal Society of Edinburgh and Violence Risk Assessment Training. Developers Christopher Webster, Stephen Hart and Kevin Douglas will be on hand to describe the research on the new instrument and its utility in violence risk assessment.

More information on the April 15, 2013 training conference is available HERE. A Webinar PowerPoint on the revision process is HERE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Webinars to feature Grisso, Otto, child custody moot court

Sept. 29: Report writing and competence in forensic psychology 

Want to hear from forensic leaders on new developments in the field, but don't have the time (or extra money) to travel to do so? No worries. On Sept. 29, the New York State Psychological Association's annual forensic conference -- featuring forensic leaders Tom Grisso and Randy Otto -- will be available as a live Webinar.

In the morning keynote address, Thomas Grisso of the University of Massachusetts Medical School will provide guidance on forensic report writing based on his recent research project.

Later in the day, Randy Otto of the University of South Florida will address "Learning Needed to Become Competent as a Forensic Psychologist."

Although Webinar participants won't be able to imbibe at the wine social at St. John's University in Manhattan, they will get to listen in on the afternoon conversation hour between attendees and presenters. They will also hear one of the three mid-day breakout sessions (most likely the one on criminal court report writing, I am told).

The cost is $50 reduced to $35 for non-NYSPA members; $25 for students with proof. Unfortunately, remote participants will not earn continuing education credits. Which kind of makes sense, as there is no way to monitor attendance.

Sept. 30: Child custody moot court 

The following day, Sept. 30, the Queens campus of St. Johns will feature a training designed for professionals interested in learning more about conducting child custody evaluations. As with the previous day's training, this one will also be available to remote listeners.

"The Court is in Session: Psychologists on the Stand" will address effective and ethical expert testimony in the child custody context. Forensic psychologists, attorneys and a judge will then enact a simulation experience, or moot court, followed by a postmortem panel discussion. This event is co-sponsored by the Forensic Division of the New York State Psychology Association and the Nassau County Psychological Association.

It's exciting to see forensic programs offering Webinar access, which will make trainings more accessible to professionals in distant locations or those who do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on airfare and lodging to attend a training.

 Registration for Sept. 29 is HERE; registration for Sept. 30 is HERE.

A related article by Tom Grisso, Guidance for Improving Forensic Reports: A Review of Common Errors, is available for free from the Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Evaluating vets for disability: Recommended reading

As thousands of U.S. vets stream back from the battlefields of the Middle East with physical and/or psychological problems, more and more forensic practitioners are being called into service to perform disability evaluations. Veterans who suffered illness or injury due to military service are eligible for disability compensation. But first, they must meet eligibility requirements, which typically include undergoing a disability evaluation (referred to as a "Compensation and Pension examination" or "C and P" in VA parlance).

Not surprisingly, the majority of psychiatric evaluations are for PTSD.

A group of psychologists and psychiatrists who conduct such evaluations has put together a reading list of recommended resources for evaluators. Although one obvious audience is the mental health staff of the Veteran's Administration, the group is also reaching out to clinicians in private practice who conduct mental disability evaluations with veterans, either directly for the veteran or via private companies who have contracts with the VA.

For questions about this reading list, please contact Mark D Worthen, PsyD, who has blogged here before and led the effort to compile the list. Dr. Worthen is also co-author of the only article published in a peer-reviewed journal that describes how to conduct mental disability evaluations with veterans.

Best of all, many of these resources are available online; just click on the embedded links.


Foote, W. E. (2008). Evaluations of individuals for disability in insurance and Social Security contexts. In R. Jackson (Ed.), Learning forensic assessment (international perspectives on forensic mental health) (pp. 449–479). New York: Taylor and Francis Group.

Moering, R. G. (2011). Military service records: Searching for the truth. Psychological Injury and Law, 4(3-4), 217-234. doi:10.1007/s12207-011-9114-3

Rubenzer, S. (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder: Assessing response style and malingering. Psychological Injury and Law, 2(2), 114–142. doi:10.1007/s12207-009-9045-4.

Strasburger, L. G., Gutheil, T. G. and Brodsky, A. (1997). On wearing two hats: Role conflict in serving as both psychotherapist and expert witness. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(4), 448–456. (Available online.)

Worthen, M. D. and Moering, R. G. (2011). A practical guide to conducting VA compensation and pension exams for PTSD and other mental disorders. Psychological Injury and Law, 4(3-4), 187-216. doi:10.1007/s12207-011-9115-2.


Allen, M. P. (2011). The law of veteran's benefits 2008-2010: Significant developments, trends, and a glimpse into the future. Veterans Law Review, 3, 1-66. (Available online.)

Ogilvie, B. and Tamlyn, E. (2012). Coming full circle: How VBA can complement recent changes in DoD and VHA policy regarding military sexual trauma. Veterans Law Review, 4, 1-40. (Available online.)

Ridgway, J. D. (2011). The splendid isolation revisited: Lessons from the history of veterans’ benefits before judicial review. Veterans Law Review, 3, 135-219. (Available online.)

Ridgway, J. D. (2012). Erratum to: Mind reading and the art of drafting medical opinions in veterans benefits claims. Psychological Injury and Law, 5(1), 72-87. doi:10.1007/s12207-012-9119-6. (Available online.)


Cocchiarella, L. and Gunnar, B. J. A. (2001). Mental and behavioral disorders. In Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. Chicago: American Medical Association Press. [Although there is a 6th edition of this text, most jurisdictions still refer to the 5th edition]

Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (2007). PTSD compensation and military service. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. (Available online.)

Kennedy, C. H. and Zillmer, E. A. (Eds.) (2012). Military psychology: Clinical and operational applications, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Rogers, R. (Ed.). (2008). Clinical assessment of malingering and deception (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.


Jones v. Shinseki, 23 Vet. App. 382 (2010). (Available online.)

Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet. App. 295 (2008). (Available online.)


American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (2008). AAPL practice guideline for the forensic evaluation of psychiatric disability. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 36(4), S3–S50. (Available online.)

Committee on Ethical Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (2011). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychologists. (Available online.)


Department of Veterans Affairs (2001). C and P clinicians guide. (Available online.)

Department of Veterans Affairs (2002). Best practice manual for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compensation and pension examinations. (Available online.)


National Center for PTSD

MST SharePoint (VA intranet only). In particular, see the PowerPoint presentation, MST C and P exams and the VBA Training Letter - Adjudicating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Claims Based on Military Sexual Trauma.

Veterans Law Library

Caveat: This list is not an official recommendation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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