Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

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attishu
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Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by attishu » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:58 pm

Hi!

I was just wondering does anyone know if an experienced psychotherapist would be qualified to work as an expert witness?
I've been working with trauma survivors for a number of years now as a psychotherapist (using trauma focused CBT and EMDR) and recently started to explore this role as a potential next step in my career. I've seen that most of the expert witness court reports/assessments are prepared by either psychiatrists or clinical psychologists but couldn't find out if a psychotherapist could provide these reports and assessments.

Also, if anyone has experience working in this area I would love to hear about their experience!

Any help/info appreciated.

Cheers!

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miriam
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Re: Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by miriam » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:02 am

If the court considered you an expert on the topic they could, theoretically, instruct you. But you would need to be the expert with the highest level of expertise and court experience on the issue available, so it really rests on whether you have that depth of knowledge in an area the court is likely to need it. Based on the kind of instructions I have received over the last 20 years in the family court I am unsure where a psychotherapist would fit in. The rates for legal aid funding are set by profession. I've just checked and there is not a psychotherapist rate, just a note that therapy/treatment is not funded by legal aid. So it can't be a common thing.

I should also be transparent that having been one of the authors in the professional guidance for the family court about using psychological expert witnesses, we have made clear recommendations about professional registration (the guidance states that HCPC registration is necessary for clinical opinion, but in certain academic areas a CPsychol might be capable of assisting the court about specific issues). Part of the problem is the broader issues with a lack of regulation in counselling and psychotherapy, as the court generally prefer regulated professionals that can be struck off.

Finally, have you thought through the more pragmatic issues? Have you done expert witness training? Do you have a supervisor with experience as an expert witness? Do you have specialist indemnity insurance that would cover being an expert witness and changing the course of people's lives?
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

attishu
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Re: Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by attishu » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:06 am

Thank you for your reply Miriam you raise some important issues.
Having a suitably qualified and experienced supervisor is a must and I’m definitely planning to access some specific training to prepare for the court environment (I’ve heard Bond Solon is good one). I don’t believe I’m ready for it at this stage but really was just trying to find out if it’s an option or not.
In relation to the issue of regulated / unregulated professions: I’m an accredited CBT therapist with BABCP and in case of misconduct I understand I could be struck off their register. Do you think this would help?

I’m considering entering the field in a very specific area: road traffic accidents, injury at work and associated psychological trauma. My clinical work and CPD focused on these areas for years and I believe I do have certain depth of knowledge in assessing and treating clients with PTSD and associated difficulties. In relation to the different rates in legal aid, in my understanding the RTA funding mostly comes from insurance policies so not sure how much of a problem legal aid not covering psychotherapy would be (I could be wrong on this).

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miriam
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Re: Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by miriam » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:28 pm

attishu wrote:In relation to the issue of regulated / unregulated professions: I’m an accredited CBT therapist with BABCP and in case of misconduct I understand I could be struck off their register. Do you think this would help?
I don't think so, as registration is non-compulsory, and there are alternative bodies available, so striking off has no real meaning.
attishu wrote:I’m considering entering the field in a very specific area: road traffic accidents, injury at work and associated psychological trauma. My clinical work and CPD focused on these areas for years and I believe I do have certain depth of knowledge in assessing and treating clients with PTSD and associated difficulties. In relation to the different rates in legal aid, in my understanding the RTA funding mostly comes from insurance policies so not sure how much of a problem legal aid not covering psychotherapy would be (I could be wrong on this).
I'm not sure how what you describe would be an expert to the court, rather than a professional witness in the area of treating personal injury trauma? Perhaps you'd do better focusing on insurance-funded rehab work?

I should also say that in court expert work (outside of the family court), you will potentially be cross examined by people who will try to undermine your expertise, and put up against opposing experts. So you need to be particularly resilient. And, for information, the Bond Solon training is VERY expensive.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

attishu
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Location: Preston

Re: Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by attishu » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:02 pm

Thank you for your input miriam, really helpful!

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Re: Psyhotherapist working as expert witness??

Post by astra » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:56 pm

I think the bottom line here is that to be recognised as an expert the courts and legal system have their own benchmarks and when it comes to assessment of trauma or any other mental health issue, that means Chartered Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Without the recognised qualification it's highly unlikely a solicitor would engage you as an expert, and if they did, opposing counsel would discredit your report on the basis that you aren't suitably qualified. This is in no way intended to devalue your knowledge and skill in the area you work in, it's just a harsh reality of working in the legal system.
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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