Psychological Assessment in Abuse and Neglect Cases

Abuse claims in litigation are common, in part because revelation of abuse has a seismic impact on the course of many proceedings. Elder, child, and domestic abuse and neglect – physical and/or psychological – can produce a variety of different injuries and mental states that can have lasting effects on the victim. Claims of abuse are poignant, disturbing, and often motivated by the adversarial system and goals of a litigant. Because abuse, when proven, is so influential in many cases, resolving questions of abuse through concrete evidence, such as can be yielded by psychological and neuropsychological testing, is of great importance. Psychology and neuropsychology experts of The Forensic Panel are vastly experienced in the effects of emotional and physical trauma on the brain and personality. That sophistication is vital to resolving whether abuse has resulted in emotional or brain damage, to what extent, how, and what the prognosis of such abuse may be.

Elders. Elder abuse and neglect matters may relate to a variety of causes; from inappropriate medication treatment to malnutrition to untreated depression to frank physical abuse. Complicating the interpretation of the  neuropsychological assessment of test findings is the possibility of dementia or longstanding effects of alcohol abuse, previous brain injury, or performance motivation impaired by depression.

Children. In child abuse cases an expert neuropsychologist, beyond checking for obvious signs of abuse, will focus on areas of poor development, such as lack of communication, poor balance, and other cognitive, emotional, and physical features. Often, these developmental markers serve as latent red flags for abuse and neglect.

Domestic. In domestic abuse cases, The Forensic Panel’s psychologist expert may enhance available history and information gathered about functional impact with a psychological assessment. Properly applied, psychological testing can reveal very useful data about acute or more longstanding effects of abuse, and how a given examinee has coped. As battered victims often experience severe psychiatric illness, such conditions may yield significant and characteristic deficits on psychological assessments.

The Forensic Panel’s neuropsychology expert assesses cognitive function that may manifest effects of posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. Naturally, domestic violence victims benefit from neuropsychological assessments that probe for effects of chronic trauma to the head, resulting in concussions or other evidence for damage.

The Forensic Panel’s groundbreaking peer-review oversight promotes confidence in the psychological or neuropsychological assessment as definitive. Peer review guarantees emphasis on scientific standards of data interpretation, safeguarding the examiner’s objectivity; and promoting a psychological or neuropsychological assessment in which testing and its interpretation are heavily influenced by clinical history.