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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