Chapter

5 Forensic Report Writing

Forensic Psychology

I. NATURE OF THE FIELD

  1. Richart L. DeMier PhD, ABPP

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop211005

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

DeMier, R. L. 2012. Forensic Report Writing. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 11:I:5.

Author Information

  1. U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, Department of Psychology, Springfield, Missouri, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

Abstract

The forensic psychological report memorializes an assessment of mental health and relevant functional abilities as they relate to specific psycholegal issues. At their core, such reports serve an educational function, providing legal professionals with expert opinions to help inform legal decisions. The present chapter reviews the literature regarding forensic reports and draws practical implications from that literature regarding essential elements of reports, transparency of reasoning, and ultimate opinions. The chapter reviews how the process of writing provides a vehicle for organizing one's thoughts and clarifying one's opinions. It offers guidance for writing reports that are accessible and understandable to people other than mental health professionals. Common report elements are examined, and specific suggestions are offered regarding information to include and exclude in various sections of a forensic report. A schema for discussions of psychological testing is offered. Potential trouble spots are addressed, including the inclusion of potentially incriminating information in a criminal forensic report and the hazards of including irrelevant information. The chapter presupposes that the reader is a competent forensic psychologist; it focuses specifically on report writing rather than the broad practice of forensic psychology.

Keywords:

  • forensic report writing;
  • effective communication;
  • report structure;
  • ultimate opinions