Clinical and Forensic Assessment

  • Lenore E. WalkerEmail author
  • David Shapiro
  • Stephanie Akl


There are many ways in which clinical assessment and forensic assessment are similar and even more ways in which they are different. Both call for an integration of multiple data sources to answer certain referral questions and to produce a report. However, forensic assessment may well include more sources of data, more complex issues regarding informed consent and privileged communication, and different ways of interpreting standardized psychological tests. These tests do not answer legal questions but may well provide the personality and cognitive issues that may impact on an individual in a legal setting. There are also, what are called forensic assessment instruments, which address functional legal capabilities. These address the legal issue but do not answer the question of why the person may show impairment; therefore, both forensic assessment instruments and standardized psychological testing need to be used in a forensic assessment. In a clinical assessment, only the standardized tests need to be used. Forensic assessment is helpful when dealing with criminal issues such as competency, criminal responsibility, and mitigation in capital cases. In personal injury cases it will help answer questions about pre-existing pathology and proximate cause. In family law, psychological testing may help to understand subtle psychopathology that may not be obvious on self-report tests or on clinical interview with a view to seeing whether or not any of this psychopathology may impact an individual’s parenting capacity or their ability to benefit from treatment if their parental rights have been terminated.


Forensic assessment instruments Functional legal capacities Proximate cause Standardized psychological tests 


  1. Shapiro, D. L., & Walker, L. E. (2019). Forensic practice for the mental health clinician: Getting started, gaining experience, and avoiding pitfalls. NY: TPI.Google Scholar
  2. Grisso, T. (1997). Instruments for assessing, understanding, and appreciation of Miranda Rights. Professional Resource Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lenore E. Walker
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Shapiro
    • 2
  • Stephanie Akl
    • 3
  1. 1.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  3. 3.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA

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