10 Hours | 10 CEs

This self-paced training program on Report Writing for Forensic Evaluations is presented by Randy Otto, PhD, ABPP

Conducting well-constructed forensic psychological evaluations is not enough to persuade judges, attorneys, and other referral sources about the adequacy of one’s work and opinions. Reports and affidavits are the primary vehicles by which psychologists communicate to judges, attorneys, and others what data they considered, what actions they took, and the opinions they formed and the underlying reasoning. 

Thus, writing clear and concise reports is a critical component of most forensic psychologists’ practice. Research on forensic examiners’ report-writing practices is reviewed; how forensic practice guidelines, the ethics code, and rules of evidence and procedure shape reports are considered; principles for the organization and structure of forensic reports are proposed; and elements of good and bad reports are highlighted using multiple real-world examples from redacted reports.

 More focused matters such as the use of jargon; specificity in word choice; identifying sources of information; distinguishing between observation and inference; and common report writing errors are considered, as well. Finally, preparation of affidavits, and how their structure and substance differs from reports, is tackled.

Presented By

Randy Otto, PhD, ABPP

Randy Otto, Ph.D., ABPP is an Associate Professor in the NSU Department of Clinical and School Psychology. Previously, he was a faculty member in the Department of Mental Health Law & Policy at the University of South Florida, where he served for 33 years. Dr. Otto was awarded doctoral and master’s degrees in clinical psychology from Florida State University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rochester. Dr. Otto’s research and writing focus on forensic psychological assessment. He has developed two psychological tests that are used in forensic assessment settings, and he has authored and edited books on forensic psychological evaluation, expert testimony and report writing, ethics in forensic psychology practice, assessment of trial competence, violence risk assessment and Florida mental health law. Dr. Otto has served as president of the American Psychology-Law Society, the American Board of Forensic Psychology, and the Board of Trustees of the American Board of Professional Psychology. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 41) and has received awards for his professional contributions from the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, the American Psychology-Law Society, the Society for Personality Assessment, the New York State Psychological Association, the University of Nebraska, and the University of California, San Francisco. He currently serves as Executive Director of the American Board of Forensic Psychology. Dr. Otto shares that his daughter is continually amazed that some are actually willing to pay to hear him speak, when she regularly volunteers to pay to have him shut up. When not at work or with his wife and daughter, Dr. Otto is likely to be found at a poker table or on a motorcycle.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe the various functions that reports and affidavits which summarize forensic evaluations serve

  • Describe reports that meet obligations imposed by common rules of evidence and rules of procedure

  • Describe reports that meet obligations imposed by the ethics code and related practice guidelines

  • Describe 3 reasons for, and the value of, including in forensic reports competing hypotheses, alternative explanations, and data that are inconsistent with one’s expert opinions

  • Describe reports that make clear distinctions between facts, assumptions, reasoning, opinions, and expert opinions, and describe the value of doing so

  • Describe jargon that is most typically included in reports and the advantages and disadvantages of including such

  • Describe reports that are jargon free

  • Describe common report writing errors

  • Describe test results in their reports in two different ways

  • Describe the primary purpose of affidavits and describe how they differ from reports in function and development

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  • Intended Audience

    This on-demand workshop is intended for mental health and other allied professionals.

  • Experience Level

    This on-demand workshop 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.

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