Why We Specialize

Your PCP has some training in the heart such as how to diagnose heart problems, basic heart treatment issues and cardiac medicine, but if you had a heart attack you would go to a heart specialist rather than a PCP.

Forensic Psychologist Role
The role of an evaluator is to be clinical and

General Psychologist Role
The role of a therapist or counselor is to be supportive and

Aspect of Evaluation Forensic Evaluation Ordinary Psychological Evaluation
Client Court/legal authority Examinee
Focus of evaluation Narrow, legally defined Broad, professionally defined
Confidentiality Available under FOIA Completely confidential
Privilege Attorney-client Mental health professional-client
Role of Evaluator Impartial, objective, detached Advocate, therapeutic, alliance
Sources of Information Reliance on third parties Reliance on examinee
Assumed Test Taking Set of Examinee Variable Honest but perhaps defended
Role of diagnosis Limited Significant
Ultimate Decision maker & authority Trier of Fact Examinee & professional
Goal of Evaluation Informing Trier of Fact Betterment of examinee

The Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology suggests that a psychologist performing both counseling and evaluation of an individual may be engaging in a dual relationship due to the very different aspects of each role.

Every PhD psychologist has some degree of training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests. However, most psychologists prefer to perform in therapist or counseling roles, rather than specializing in assessment. Dr. Kitchen believes that by specializing in one aspect of a psychologist role, he can better utilize a specific skill set. It is the difference between sushi and fish stew. Creating sushi is an art, while fish stew can be made by anyone. In the same way, Dr. Kitchen believes that being the best at one thing is better than being average at everything. Because of this, he chose to specialize in forensic psychology and does not become engaged in individual therapy or counseling of individuals. This is also consistent with the recommended guidelines for forensic psychology. The role of a counseling therapist is different and requires a different skill set from that of an examining or forensic psychologist. The counseling therapist needs to be empathic, supportive, and to some degree act as an advocate for the client, while the forensic psychologist needs to be clinical, detached, and unbiased. A forensic psychologist’s actual client is the court or referring agency rather than the individual being evaluated or tested. The role is to help the court or other referring agency to make the best decision they can regarding the case at hand rather than to help the individual person be the best they can.