For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Child Custody, Dr. G. Andrew H. Benjamin demonstrates part of a five-phase approach to family law evaluation in child custody cases. A great percentage of ethical complaints filed against psychologists are connected to child custody litigation. However, by following a careful protocol in working with these cases, psychologists can avoid these complaints and play a valuable role in helping the children involved.
The five-phase protocol outlined in this DVD (and discussed in full in Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice, by Benjamin & Gollan, 2003; published by APA) provides a clear, scripted sequence of steps that allows psychologists, in conjunction with attorneys, to help resolve child custody cases before they go to trial.
In this session, Dr. Benjamin demonstrates the fifth phase of the process, the closing interview. Dr. Benjamin interviews a father who is accused of abusing his daughter and presents the client with the facts of the case so that he understands the evidence that the evaluation has produced.
This DVD features a client portrayed by an actor on the basis of a composite of several actual cases. The case evaluation report is published in Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice.
The foundation used to conduct parental evaluations is based on the integration of three approaches. First, this approach aims to understand the highly conflictual context of family litigation, with attention to conducting parental evaluations in a manner that limits the detrimental effects of separation and divorce on both parents and their children.
The approach aims to integrate the principle of therapeutic jurisprudence. Attention is focused on observing the legal evidentiary standards used in the court system. Data from psychological testing, interviews, and observations are collected and interpreted using the highest standards for scientific evidence and expert witness testimony to facilitate the court's effort to generate an equitable outcome that promotes the needs of the children.
And finally, this approach proposes a method of evaluation, using multiple assessments and careful procedures, to ensure adherence to the highest standards of practice, with attention to the relevant ethical guidelines and the demonstration of adherence and competence in documenting and conducting a fair and thorough evaluation in a family law case.
This DVD serves as a complement to the book Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice. The bulk of the DVD is a mock closing interview that illustrates the explanation of the assessment findings that emerged in a court-appointed evaluation.
The use of this procedure appears to provide high-conflict family law parties an opportunity to learn the results of the evaluation without the evaluator colluding with the denial or minimization of any party. It also provides the litigant one last opportunity to refute any of the evidence that has emerged.
The introduction of this DVD highlights the preevaluation procedures to avoid both the appearance of conflict interest and the perceived bias by the parties. The different phases of the multiparty comprehensive evaluation are mapped out for the audience to delineate practical advice about assessment strategies that lead to efficient, thorough, and fairly perceived data collection. The review of collateral reporter records and solicitation of third-party collateral interviews is explained. And finally, methods of data integration, report writing, and court presentation are discussed.
There are a variety of clients who may benefit from participating in a multiparty comprehensive evaluation. In general, Dr. Benjamin's experience has shown that individuals who agree, with lawyer consultation, to participate through the evaluation and to provide any and all data for the evaluator are best served in these evaluations.
Since the evaluations outlined in Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation and demonstrated in this DVD are designed to observe the legal evidentiary standards used in the family court system, relevant to the parties, the evaluation provides a clear structure for all parties with encouragement of each party discussing the components of the evaluation with their lawyers.
The book does not provide specific procedures for ascertaining allegations of child sexual abuse in which physical evidence of abuse exists. In such family law cases, readers and viewers are recommended to seek consultation with qualified professionals trained to conduct such evaluations.
G. Andrew H. Benjamin, JD, PhD, has a career distinguished by the breadth of his professional activities and the strength of his commitment to combining the best resources of psychology and the law for the benefit of adults and children enmeshed in family conflicts.
While working with families engaged in high-conflict litigation, he was named "Professional of the Year" by the Washington State Bar Association's Family Law Section. He was elected president of the Washington State Psychological Association, and later his colleagues created an award in his name for "outstanding and tireless contributions." He was honored by the Puyallup Nation's Health Authority for serving as a "modern-day warrior fighting the mental illnesses, drug and alcohol addictions" of the people served by the nation's program. The American Psychological Association (APA) conferred the Heiser Award on Dr. Benjamin in recognition of his record of public service and advocacy in numerous areas of professional activity.
He has published 39 articles in psychology, law, and psychiatry journals, and he is the author of Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice (coauthored by Jackie K. Golan) and Law and Mental Health Professionals: Washington, both published by the APA.
He lives in Seattle with his wife of 28 years and their two children. His hobbies include extensive family travel and watching his son's and daughter's soccer teams. He was an active soccer coach until promoted to passive parent when both of the kids' teams exceeded his skills by the time team members were 12 years of age.
- Benjamin, G. A. H., & Gollan, J. ( 2003). Family evaluation in custody litigation: Reducing risks of ethical and malpractice infractions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Emery, R. E., Otto, R. K., & O'Donohue, W. T. (2005). A critical assessment of child custody evaluations: Limited science and a flawed system. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 6 (1), 1–29.
- Garb, H. N. (2005). Clinical judgment and decision making. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1 (1), 67–89.
- Psychotherapy With Men
Mark A. Stevens
- Working With Children Who Have Experienced Neglect or Abuse
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- Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice
G. Andrew H. Benjamin and Jackie K. Gollan
- Divorce Wars: Interventions With Families in Conflict
Elizabeth M. Ellis
- Investigative Interviews of Children: A Guide for Helping Professionals
Debra A. Poole and Michael E. Lamb
- Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse: Ethics, Law, and Policy, Second Edition
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