Standards

To my professional colleagues in forensic psychology, I have this statement from clinical psychology.


Cardiologist: If you go to a cardiologist for the diagnosis and treatment of your heart problems, the cardiologist is expected to know everything there is to know about heart disease – everything – and then to stay current on developments by reading professional journals.

Oncologist: If you go to an oncologist for the diagnosis and treatment of your cancer, the oncologist is expected to know everything – everything – there is to know about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and then to remain current on developments by reading professional journals.

Clinical Psychologist: In clinical psychology, if we work with attachment pathology we are expected to know everything – everything – about the attachment system, and then we remain current on developments by reading professional journals.

Clinical Psychologist: A clinical psychologist working with trauma pathology is expected to know everything – everything – about trauma, its diagnosis and treatment, and then to remain current on developments through professional journals.

Clinical Psychologist: In clinical psychology, if we work with personality disorder pathology we are expected to know everything there is to know about personality disorders, their origins, diagnosis, and treatment, and then we remain current on developments through professional journals.

Clinical Psychologist: In clinical psychology, if we conduct family therapy we are expected to know everything – everything – about family therapy, then we remain current on developments through seminars and by reading professional journals.

To my professional colleagues in forensic psychology, I would assert that these same standards of practice apply to you; that your client is court-involved is not relevant.  These standards of professional practice still apply to you.

To my colleagues in forensic psychology… if you think these standards of professional practice don’t apply to you because you are somehow “special” and “exempt” from standards of professional practice, please explain why that is.  Why is forensic psychology exempt from standards for knowledge?

Because if you are not exempt from standards of professional practice for knowledge and competency, then you have a lot of reading to do.

Primary Literature:

Bowlby: attachment
Ainsworth: attachment
Research on attachment
Minuchin: family systems
Bowen: family systems
Haley: family systems
Madanes: family systems
Satir: family systems
Kernberg: personality disorders
Beck: personality disorders
Millon: personality disorders
Linehan: personality disorders
van der Kolk: trauma (complex)
Perry: childhood trauma
Briere: childhood trauma
Fonagy: parent-child relationship
Stern: parent-child relationship
Tronick: parent-child relationship

That is the primary literature every forensic psychologist should know. 

If not, why not?  To my professional colleagues in forensic psychology… tell us why you are exempt from knowledge?

Dr. Childress knows all of that.  Is it too much knowledge?  Is it too hard for you?  Do you think you don’t need knowledge to do what you do?  Does it require too much effort and you’re simply too lazy?  Tell us why you are exempt from knowledge because you are a “forensic psychologist”?

Because if you are not exempt from knowledge as a standard of professional practice, then you have a lot of reading to do… quickly.  Because your client, the one you’re seeing next week, needs you to know all of that before your next appointment.

Those are called standards of professional practice.  Welcome to the world of clinical psychology.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

One thought on “Standards”

  1. My thoughts exactly! It should be illegal for them to practice without standardization and staying current. It was like seeing my children go to a dermatologist for heart surgery.

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