The Roles of Forensic Psychiatrists and Psychologists: Professional Experts, Service Providers, Therapists, or All Things for All People?

  • Thierry PhamEmail author
  • Pamela Taylor


Forensic psychiatry and psychology in Europe place emphasis on clinical service delivery and the treatment of offenders with mental disorder while also working at all levels alongside the criminal justice system and other agencies. In this chapter, we first consider the various roles taken by forensic psychiatrists and, to an extent, other clinicians in the field. Secondly, we discuss the special impact of the psychologist on evaluation, management, and interventions, with support through systematic assessments and reproducable measurement of risk and change. Thirdly, we take the practitioner-expert witness tension as an example of the potential conflicts between the various roles which forensic psychiatrists and clinical psychologists must adopt, and how these may be resolved. Although these roles are strictly separated in some countries, decisions on how to act are not evidence-based, and it is arguable that the most important resolution lies in clarity for all parties on the nature and extent of roles and relationships. We go on to show that, even within an inquisitorial approach, there needs to be no strict separation between evaluation for legal purposes and therapy, using the Belgian social defense system as an illustration of this.



Thierry Pham’s contribution was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Ministère de la Région Wallonne, “Sante ́et Affaires Sociales et Egalité des chances” to the CRDS.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forensic Psychology, UMonsMonsBelgium
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche en Défense SocialeTournaiBelgium
  3. 3.Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical NeurosciencesCardiff University School of MedicineCardiffUK

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