Trauma-Informed Forensic Mental Health Assessment: Practical Implications, Ethical Tensions, and Alignment with Therapeutic Jurisprudence Principles

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Forthcoming

NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3969159

58 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2021

See all articles by Julie Goldenson

Julie Goldenson

University of Toronto | OISE

Stanley Brodsky

University of Alabama

Michael L. Perlin

New York Law School

Date Written: November 22, 2021

Abstract

The need for trauma-informed practice is well recognized across mental health and legal settings; however, relatively little has been written about its application in forensic mental health assessment. This paper focuses on trauma-informed assessment of criminal justice involved individuals, given the high rates of trauma exposure and related sequelae in this population. A trauma-informed lens allows forensic mental health examiners to assess examinees in the context of their developmental histories and lived experience. Such a lens also has implications for the entire assessment process in terms of interviewing, psychological testing, diagnostic conclusions, feedback, and the provision of testimony and educating triers of fact. Being adequately compassionate is not only ethical, but also likely to enhance data quality. We identify tensions with respect to maintaining the role clarity necessary for forensic practice and examiner self-awareness is discussed as a way to manage emotional reactions and to reduce bias and role conflict. We examine these issues through the framework of therapeutic jurisprudence; the principles of this framework and trauma-informed forensic mental health assessments are aligned and could (and should) synergistically lead to important changes to psycho-legal practice.

Note:
Funding Information: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that there are no known conflicts of interest to disclose.

Keywords: trauma-informed, forensic mental health assessment, complex trauma, therapeutic jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Goldenson, Julie and Brodsky, Stanley and Perlin, Michael L., Trauma-Informed Forensic Mental Health Assessment: Practical Implications, Ethical Tensions, and Alignment with Therapeutic Jurisprudence Principles (November 22, 2021). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Forthcoming, NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3969159, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3969159 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3969159

Julie Goldenson (Contact Author)

University of Toronto | OISE ( email )

Canada

Stanley Brodsky

University of Alabama ( email )

101 Paul W. Bryant Dr.
Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

Michael L. Perlin

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212-431-2183 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.nyls.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/emeriti_faculty/

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