Tips for Testifying Lesson 7: 10 Essential Differences Between a Therapeutic and a Forensic Relationship

We've previously covered the differences between lay witnesses and expert witnesses, as well as who is qualified to testify as an expert witness and the limitations on expert testimony. Essentially, a treating provider is limited to providing lay testimony on the observable facts. If expert testimony from a mental health professional is needed in a legal proceeding -- such as obtaining forensic evaluations for a custody dispute -- that testimony must come from someone other than the treating provider.Professional rules and codes of conduct strictly prohibit a therapist from performing forensic evaluations in custody disputes if that therapist is also a treating provider. Therefore, as a treating provider, when you are called upon to be a lay witness, it is extremely important that you avoid a "dual role." From a legal perspective, a dual role occurs when the treating practitioner becomes a forensic witness and transitions from his or her role as a therapist to that of an evaluator.The following questions will assist the professional to recognize and avoid lapsing into a dual role relationship. Remember that your reputation and your license depends on your ability to recognize and avoid a dual role relationship.

Lesson 7: 10 Essential Differences Between a Therapeutic and a Forensic Relationship

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