How to make a Forensic Psychology practice work in this environment

Like so many other businesses and other aspects of our society, the Covid-19 pandemic created significant problems for my practice. How do you evaluate an individual when you can’t even be within 6 feet of them? How do you interact with somebody when everything they touch or everything you touch could possibly be contaminated and even fatal? This attack on our society created significant problems and required creative solutions to problems we have never faced before. I will talk about two aspects of what the entire world has been going through. The first is how my practice had to evolve and adapt to the social distancing and state shut down requirements. The second will be thoughts about what this tells us about humankind.

I must start by saying that I am somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to technology. I am smart enough to figure things out eventually but computers and programming languages that do not come naturally to me. However, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. With the help of some very intelligent people around me, I figured out how to utilize WebEx in order to meet with my clients. We developed an evaluation protocol that could be done by WebEx meeting. I would do the interview and administer the Rorschach inkblots to the client through the WebEx platform. My administrator then read the paper/pencil testing portion of the evaluation to the client and recorded the client’s response on the test sheet. For the most part, when it worked best, the client could see the response being filled in on the test sheet.

We then had to convince state agencies that this was an alternative method to evaluate their clients. This was not easy since state agencies tend to amend or change policies with the speed of molasses flowing in the middle of winter. However, several courageous administrators from at least three counties understood the remarkably unique nature of our current circumstances and gave permission to perform evaluations in the new manner. Because of this, while the workload was significantly lower than normal, we were able to provide some evaluations to various agencies and courts.

In the meantime, plans were made to reopen our offices in a healthy and appropriate manner as soon as possible. We developed a protocol that, for the most part, kept a safe 6 foot distance between all parties in the office. The client is at one end of the table that has tissue paper laid down. All the testing materials they would need are available within arm’s reach. I then sit at the other end of the table and provide instruction on how to complete the testing protocols. The client is provided one set of Rorschach ink blot cards, while I used a separate set to help determine where and how the clients saw the images that they saw. For IQ testing, several sets of blocks, which have been gathered over the years of test purchases, are utilized. At the end of the evaluation, the set of blocks used by the individual are put into bleach water and another set is provided for the next client.