20 Hours | 20 CEs

This self-paced training program on Best Practices in the Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial is presented by Patricia A. Zapf, PhD.

One of the primary foundations of criminal law is that all defendants have a right to a fair trial. Towards this end, upwards of 60,000 evaluations of competency to stand trial are conducted annually in the USA. Research has shown that the opinion of the evaluator in these evaluations is accepted by the courts upwards of 95% of the time. Thus, it is imperative that these evaluations be conducted using best practices. Two important sources have recently been recognized as setting the foundation for best practices in competency evaluation. This training program provides a strong foundation for any mental health professional involved in or wishing to become involved in the evaluation of adjudicative competence.

This training program covers the legal foundations for adjudicative competence, including new developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky standard, as well as practical and theoretical issues in competency evaluation. Competency assessment instruments are reviewed in depth as are report writing and expert testimony. The trainee is taken through the foundations for competency evaluation, the specific abilities to be evaluated, how to formulate a case conceptualization and ultimate opinion regarding a defendant’s adjudicative competence, how to communicate opinions about competence in the written report and through expert testimony.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe important legal cases that deal with issues relevant to the interpretation adjudicative competence standards and statutes

  • Describe the developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky Standard

  • Describe the research on evaluations of adjudicative competence

  • Describe theoretical issues in competency evaluation

  • Describe the most recent clinical guidance on competency evaluation & best practices model

  • Describe the administration procedures for various competency assessment instruments

  • Describe the psychometric properties of CAIs

  • Describe the process for case and opinion formulation

  • Describe the process of communicating opinions regarding criminal competence

  • Describe required, appropriate, and inappropriate report contents &

Presented By

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD

Patricia A. Zapf, Ph.D. is Vice President for Continuing & Professional Studies at Palo Alto University (PAU). Prior to coming to PAU she was a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) for 16 years, during which time she was instrumental in the development of a new doctoral program in clinical psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology and served as the program’s first Director of Clinical Training. Prior to her time at CUNY, she was on the psychology and law faculty at the University of Alabama. In 2009, Dr. Zapf founded CONCEPT Professional Training with the mission of elevating the level of practice in psychology and related professions.

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  • Intended Audience

    This self-paced course is intended for mental health and other allied professionals.

  • Experience Level

    This self-paced course is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

  • CE / CPD Credit

    APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.


  • 1


    • Review Before Proceeding

  • 2

    Foundational Aspects of Forensic Mental Health Assessment

    • Lesson 1 Video

    • Heilburn & LaDuke 2015

  • 3

    Principles of FMHA

    • Lesson 2 Video

    • Lesson 2 Quiz

  • 4

    The Legal Context

    • Lesson 3 Video

    • The Legal Context

    • AAPL-CST Guidelines

    • Lesson 3 Quiz

  • 5

    Forensic Mental Health Concepts

    • Lesson 4 Video

    • Forensic Mental Health Concepts

    • Attorney CST Questionnaire

    • Philipsborn (2004)

    • Lesson 4 Quiz

  • 6

    Empirical Foundations and Limits

    • Lesson 5 Video

    • Empirical Foundations and Limits

    • Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview Manual

    • Pirelli, Gottdeiner & Zapf (2011)

    • Lesson 5 Quiz

  • 7

    Preparation for the Evaluation

    • Lesson 6 Video

    • Preparation for the Evaluation

    • Competence Related Domains & Areas of Inquiry

    • Lesson 6 Quiz

  • 8

    Competency Assessment Instruments

    • Lesson 7 Video

    • Lesson 7 Quiz

  • 9

    Three Competency Assessment Tools

    • Lesson 8 Video

  • 10

    Data Collection

    • Lesson 9 Video

    • Data Collection

    • Forensic Evaluation Outline Form

    • Types of Third Party/Collateral Information

    • Sources of Third Party/Collateral Information

    • Lesson 9 Quiz

  • 11


    • Lesson 10 Video

    • Interpretation

    • Competency Related Domains and Areas of Inquiry

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 12

    Report Writing & Testimony

    • Lesson 11 Video

    • Report Writing & Testimony

    • Grisso (2010)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 13

    Advanced Formulation

    • Lesson 12 Video

    • Maroney (2006)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 14

    Intellectually Disabled Defendants

    • Lesson 13 Video

    • Salekin, Olley & Hedge (2010)

    • Kalbeitzer & Benedetti (2009)

    • Noffsinger (2001)

    • Sample Forensic Evaluation Report

    • AAPL-CST Guidelines

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 15


    • Instructions

    • Evaluation

    • Submission Verification

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  • CE Credit

    Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

  • Convenience & Flexibility

    Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!

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