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Psych Testing 101: A Lawyer's Guide to Psychological Reports
By Dr. Linda Liefland, J.D., Ph.D.
There are a number of reasons lawyers may engage psychologists to test their clients. In a child custody dispute, both children and parents may be referred for testing. In a criminal case, testing may be requested to determine competence to stand trial, to shed light on whether intent existed, and to prepare for sentencing. In a personal injury case, testing may be used to determine the extent of the cognitive or psychological damage. The purpose of this article is to give lawyers a better idea of how to understand the psychologist’s report. There exist, literally, thousands of psychological tests. While no one needs to be familiar with all of them, it makes sense to know about the tests that psychologists use frequently. A typical psychological report is divided into sections including test behavior, history, intellectual (or cognitive) functioning, and personality (or emotional) functioning.
Described often as “Behavioral Observations,” this section des
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