FAQS

FAQS

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is the difference between clinical and forensic psychology?
Clinical psychology is a psychological specialty that integrates theory, research, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and addressing mental illness and promoting mental health across the lifespan. Clinical psychologists have a solid understanding of diagnosis, psychological testing, and treatment. In B.C., they hold doctorates and are required to be registered with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia.

Forensic psychology refers to the study and practice of psychology within the legal system. For example, clinical psychologists who specialize in forensic psychology apply their knowledge and skill to the legal arena by providing expert testimony in court cases, conducting assessments related to criminal risk and workplace threats or discrimination, providing disability and competency evaluations, consulting on cases related to custody and access, assisting in the screening of law enforcement applicants, providing therapy for victims or offenders, and so on. These professionals have specialized knowledge of the legal system and the issues unique to practicing clinical psychology within the forensic domain.

Why should I seek psychological services from a clinical psychologist with forensic expertise as opposed to one without such expertise?
You should seek the services of a clinical psychologist with forensic expertise if you are dealing with civil or criminal legal matters. Clinical and forensic expertise will ensure that relevant legal considerations are an integral part of the mental health service that you receive, whether it be assessment, consultation, or treatment.
Do you have a sliding scale for clinical services?
Yes, we take on a limited number of cases every year on a sliding scale basis. Contact us today for more information
What types of payment do you accept for clinical services?
We accept cheques, e-transfers, bank drafts, and cash from our clients. We also except third-party payments. Contact us today for more information
Are forensic psychological services covered by the Medial Services Plan of B.C.?
No, psychological services are not covered under the Medical Services Plan of B.C. However, psychologists’ fees are income tax deductible as a medical expense. Ask your tax preparation expert for details and conditions.

In addition, these funding sources may be available to some clients:

  • Extended Health Benefits: Clients with extended health benefits may be eligible for partial reimbursement when they receive services from a Registered Psychologist. Ask your insurance company.
  • Crime Victim Assistance Program: If you are the victim of a crime that occurred in B.C. after July 1st, 1972, and that has been reported to the police, funding for psychological treatment may be available. Consult the CVAP webpage for additional information.
  • Disability Insurance: If you on short-term or long-term disability, your insurance coverage may include psychological treatment. Talk to your case manager or adjuster to see if you qualify.
  • Emergency Financial Assistance for Canadians Victimized Abroad: Canadians who are victims of a violent crime in a foreign jurisdiction (and their family members) may receive funding for various expenses, including psychological treatment. Consult The Victims Fund for eligibility criteria and application forms.
What is your cancellation policy?
Our cancellation policy is tailored to the type of service provided. Generally speaking, clients will be charged a fee for failing to cancel services within a specified amount of time. For details, call or email us today.

ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS

What is a psychological assessment?
Assessments help psychologists identify the specific mental health issues that an individual is struggling with, from serious clinical disorders to minor problems in day-to-day functioning. They allow for a better understanding of the client’s strengths and limitations and they guide the treatment plan.

A psychological assessment can include components such as standardized tests or questionnaires, clinical interviews, reviews of records (e.g., medical, school, criminal), direct observation, contact with collateral sources, etc. The components selected for a particular assessment will depend on the nature of the referral question. For example, is the assessment to determine a person’s competency or risk for violence? Is it to assess a person’s learning ability or personality? Other factors such as timeframes, available resources, financial considerations, and legal deadlines may also determine the components selected. All psychological assessments, regardless of length or complexity, require the examiner to consider, evaluate, and integrate various types of data collected from various sources of information.

What is a psychological test?
It is important to know that psychological assessments are not the same as psychological tests (also referred to as psychometric tests, standardized tests, or norm-referenced tests). Psychological tests (as well as questionnaires and checklists) are merely components of a psychological assessment. The tests we utilize meet the standards of reliability and validity in the clinical-forensic psychology community and have been accepted by the Courts.

There are many types of psychological tests designed to measure a variety of psychological constructs. Some measure specific constructs, like reading and writing skills, intellectual functioning, or the presence of a particular disorder (e.g., depression). Others are broader in scope, like measuring an individual’s personality profile, response style, or general mental health functioning. The interpretation of psychological tests requires foundational knowledge in areas such as research methodology, test theory, and statistics. Some of the more complex tests require advanced doctoral training in psychometrics.

What is your approach to conducting assessments?
Consistent with best practice guidelines for clinical and forensic psychology, we employ multiple hypothesis testing and a multi-trait / multi-method approach in conducting psychological assessments.

Multiple hypothesis testing is the practice of always considering more than one explanation for an individual’s psychological disorder or behaviour under evaluation and testing each hypothesis. Multiple hypothesis testing protects against confirmatory bias and ensures that we keep an open mind in every case.

The multi-trait / multi-method approach is the practice of collecting a range of data from numerous information sources in order to increase the objectivity, reliability, and accuracy of our assessments.

What are the various sources of information you use in psychological assessments?
Depending on the type of assessment, and with the informed consent of the client undergoing the assessment, we may collect information from the following sources:

  • Files/Records: We review a variety of official documents that are normally provided by the client and/or the referring agency. This may include school records, employment records, medical records, mental health records, prior assessments, or criminal justice files. On occasion, additional records may be requested from other sources.
  • Psychological tests: We select and administer psychological tests based on the context of the assessment, the nature of the referral question, and the capabilities of the client. Tests may range from brief, paper and pencil, self-report checklists that the client completes as part of the clinical interview, to lengthy, computer-assisted tests that the client completes during a separate appointment.
  • Clinical interview: We conduct clinical interviews in a manner sensitive to the various pressures that our forensic and medical-legal clients face. The areas covered in a clinical interview will typically include the client’s psychosocial history, the issues he/she is currently facing, their general functioning, and his/her future goals and expectations.
  • Collateral interview: Depending on the type of assessment, we may conduct interviews with other people who are knowledgeable about the client (e.g., family members, friends, colleagues, treatment providers or other professionals). Collateral interviews augment the assessment database by providing additional information and/or corroborating the client’s disclosures.
  • Behavioural observations: We use clinically-informed observations of the client’s behaviour during interviews (or, when possible, in other situations and settings) to enhance our understanding of the client and to help us fine-tune our hypothesis about their particular case.
What happens if there are discrepancies among these sources of information?
Consistent with best practice guidelines, more objective and reliable sources of information will be given more weight in the overall assessment than those that are less so.
Why do I need a psychological assessment from a forensically trained psychologist? Can’t I just go to a clinical psychologist?
While clinical psychologists can conduct psychological assessments, those with forensic expertise can take that assessment one step further by explaining the link between an individual’s psychology and the legal issues they are facing. For example, a non-forensic assessment may reveal that an individual has low self-esteem and is highly dependent on others to meet their emotional needs. A forensic psychological assessment will explain how these characteristics led the individual to engage in violent criminal behaviour or contributed to that person becoming the victim of workplace bullying and harassment.
I have a treating psychologist with whom I have excellent rapport. Can s/he complete my forensic psychological assessment?
No. Due to the nature of the work, the professional relationship that develops between a treating psychologist and her/his client can lead to bias and decreased objectivity. Therefore, best practice guidelines caution against having treating psychologists complete forensic assessments on their own clients (American Psychology – Law Society’s Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologist).

That being said, treating psychologists should be consulted when their clients are being assessed, since they are a valuable source of collateral information. In legal terms, the treating psychologist can be a fact witness (i.e., a witness to what occurred in treatment) but not an expert witness (i.e., an independent and objective evaluator).

Given these issues, when a person is referred to The Forensic Practice for treatment and assessment, we assign each of these services to different psychologists. Having both treating and assessing psychologists under one roof allows our clients to benefit from both services in a manner that benefits the individual receiving the service, while also meeting ethical and legal standards.

What is your approach to conducting child abuse investigations?
We employ the StepWise Approach to conducting child abuse investigations. This involves four steps:

  1. The Planning Step: This step involves reviewing preliminary information to generate multiple hypotheses about the nature of the allegation (i.e., is it truthful, false, or something else) and developing a plan to test these hypotheses.
  2. The Fact-Finding Step: This step puts the plan into action. Previous investigations are reviewed and analyzed to determine if any further investigation is required. If further investigation is warranted, it may be necessary to re-interview the child/children involved, as well as any other parties (e.g., non-offending parent, alleged suspect, potential witnesses).
  3. The Assessing Step: This step involves assessing the credibility of the allegations using Statement Analysis (SA). SA is a three-step process that involves: (a) assessing the quality of the procedure used to elicit the memory evidence; (b) assessing the credibility of the child’s allegations using Criteria Based Content Analysis (CBCA), and (c) looking at the other evidence in the case using Fact Pattern Analysis (FPA). SA is a valid tool for assessing the credibility of children’s statement in cases of alleged sexual abuse.
  4. The Reporting Step: This step involves communicating one’s findings in a way that is objective, transparent, and balanced, and meets the standards for the context in which the assessment is to be used (e.g., family, civil, vs. criminal court).
What is the StepWise Approach to Interviewing?
The StepWise was developed by Dr. John Yuille in the 1980s. It is the first evidence-based interview protocol developed to investigate child abuse allegations. It is a semi-structured interview approach that can be tailored to an individual’s abilities. It allows for the collection of reliable and valid memory evidence. Since its development, The StepWise Approach has been adopted by numerous agencies, nationally and internationally, and it has served as the foundation for the development of other interview guidelines. The StepWise approach has been adapted for use with adult victims/witnesses, suspects, and individuals with special needs.
How do I initiate a referral for a psychological assessment or child abuse investigation?
To initiate a referral or for more information, contact us today. We can give you a free initial consultation to determine the exact nature of your request, the type of assessment required, and whether or not we can meet your needs.
Can you guarantee that the assessment will be in my favour?
No. We pride ourselves for conducting objective and balanced evaluations. In line with the BC Supreme Court 11.2(1) Rules of Evidence, we view our role as that of a friend of the court, not as an advocate for the litigants involved.
How much do your assessment services cost?
The cost of an assessment depends on a number of factors, such as the type of assessment required, the complexity of the case, time requirements, whether travel or court time is involved, applicable taxes, and so on. Contact us to find out what your particular assessment costs might be.

CONSULTING QUESTIONS

I have concerns about the psychological services that I received elsewhere. What can I do about it?
Contact us if you have concerns about possible bias, drift from best practices, and/or a lack of research or evidentiary support for psychological services you received elsewhere. We conduct work product reviews of treatment, assessment, and consulting services provided by other psychologists, as well as work product reviews of investigative interviews by police, social services, lawyers, reporters, and other investigators.
What does a work product review entail?
First, we conduct a preliminary review the service that was provided to you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of that service (e.g., treatment or assessment reports, investigative report, investigative interview). In terms of strengths, we look to ensure that best practice guidelines were followed. In terms of weaknesses, we look for evidence of bias, methodological problems, drift from best practices, and lack of research or evidentiary support for conclusions and recommendations. If concerns are identified, we conduct a more thorough analysis and identify the empirical, clinical, and theoretical rationale behind the key issues. Depending on your needs, the results of work product reviews can be provided through verbal feedback or a written report.
How much do your consulting services cost?
The cost depends on a number of factors, such as the nature of the consult, the complexity of the case, time requirements, whether travel or court time is involved, applicable taxes, and so on. Contact us for more information.

TREATMENT QUESTIONS

What is your approach to treatment?
Our approach to treatment is evidence-based and pragmatic. We use methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, interpersonal process therapy, and so on, that have been clinically proven to be effective for a wide range of psychological and behavioural issues. We work with our clients to develop treatment plans that are tailored to their individual needs. This includes working collaboratively with other treatment providers (e.g., psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists) to ensure that services are well coordinated and efficient.

In cases where treatment is initiated by a third party (e.g., courts; guardians), we ensure that our clients’ rights are protected while meeting the conditions set by the third party.

How do I refer myself or someone else for treatment?
To initiate a treatment referral or to talk to one of our Clinical Specialists for a free initial consultation, contact us today
How long is a treatment session and how long will treatment last?
Typically, each treatment session is about fifty minutes long and takes place once a week. The length of treatment can vary from just a few sessions to sessions that span years. This is because the length of treatment depends on many factors, such as the complexity of the case, the client’s level of motivation and engagement in the therapeutic process, treatment goals, and so on. Our treatment providers will work collaboratively with clients to determine the best course of treatment for each client, taking into consideration time and financial constraints.
I am a first responder / I am a criminal justice professional who routinely deals with the aftermath of traumatic events, either directly or indirectly. What are the advantages of seeking services from a forensic specialist?
The advantage of working with a forensic specialist is their understanding of the challenges unique to your work, including pertinent legal issues and the ‘culture’ of your profession. Working with someone who understands the realities of your work makes communication easier, which increases the effectiveness of the treatment provided.
I have a family member who has committed an offence. What are the advantages of seeking services from a forensic specialist?
The advantage of working with a forensic specialist is their understanding of the complex emotions that people who have committed offences and their family members face. Working with someone who understands the dynamics of offending and the realities of the criminal justice system facilitates communication, rapport, and treatment efficacy.
I have a family member who is a victim of crime. What are the advantages of seeking services from a forensic specialist?
The advantage of working with a forensic specialist is their knowledge of the dynamics of offending and its impact on victims and their families. Working with someone who has expertise in this field facilitates communication, rapport, and treatment efficacy. They are better able to support clients navigate the criminal justice system.
I am a parent involved with the Ministry of Children and Families (MCFD). What are the advantages of seeking services form a forensic specialist?
The advantage of working with a forensic specialist is their understanding of the factors that impact parenting capacity and the unique challenges of being involved with the MCFD. A professional who understands these dynamics can help you work more effectively with the MCFD and make decisions that are best for your family.
I have unwanted urges and impulses or problematic sexual interests that worry me. I would like treatment but I’m worried that you will report me to the police. What can I do?
Firstly, if you are having unwanted sexual urges and/or problematic sexual interests, treatment could help you learn to manage these unwanted impulses so that you do not act on them. By learning to keep these urges and interests in check, you are protecting yourself and your potential victims. To initiate a treatment referral or to talk to one of our Clinical Specialists for a free initial consultation, contact us today.

Secondly, it is important for you to know that simply having unwanted sexual urges and interests is not, in itself, something that would override client confidentiality. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of psychological treatment and it is taken very seriously. However, psychologists are required to breach confidentiality if, among other things, they have reason to believe that an individual poses an imminent threat to another identifiable person and/or they have reason to believe that a child is at risk. Contact us for more information.

How much do your treatment services cost?
The cost depends on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the need for a formal assessment, time requirements, access to funding, and so on. Contact us for a more detailed estimate for your particular needs.

TRAINING QUESTIONS

I am an individual seeking training. Can I attend one of your workshops?
It depends. The vast majority of our workshops are contracted by specific organizations and they will determine how many seats, if any, will be open to outside participants. Please call us to enquire about availability for upcoming workshops or to host a workshop in your location.
What kind of training do you offer?
We offer a range of workshops on the StepWise approach to interviewing, as well as risk assessment and other clinical issues. We also offer mentoring programs. For more information about our training services, contact us today
I would like to host a workshop. Will you work with me to develop new training?
Yes. We are committed to working collaboratively with individuals and groups to develop and deliver training that is specifically tailored to your needs. For more information, contact us today
How would you tailor a workshop for my organization?
Tailoring is done collaboratively with our clients. It may involve incorporating case material, policies, and procedures from your organization or discipline. It may also involve developing unique practical exercises that will make the training operationally relevant to your group. Contact us for more information about tailoring workshops.
What is the cost of a workshop?
The cost of a workshop depends on a number of factors, including the length of the workshop, the need for tailoring a workshop, number of workshop participants, number of trainers, the cost of the venue, travel-related expenses, and applicable taxes. Contact us today to discuss various options for workshops and their costs.