Frequently Asked Questions
Below are commonly asked questions.
What is a forensic psychologist?
A forensic psychologist is a licensed psychologist with specialized training and experience in working with people involved in the legal system. To be a licensed psychologist in Minnesota, one needs to earn a doctoral degree (usually a Ph.D.or Psy.D.), complete a one year internship, one year of additional supervised practice, and pass state and national licensing exams. Details about licensing requirements can be found at the Minnesota Board of Psychology website's forms page.
Forensic psychologists complete additional training relevant to working in the legal system. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offer board certification in forensic psychology. More informatino can be found here: abfp.com/about.
What is involved in a forensic evaluation?
This depends somewhat on the reason for the evaluation. Typically, the evaluation will include at least one meeting with the psychologist, psychological testing, and the psychologist reviewing relevant records such as mental health or legal records.
How is a forensic evaluation different from counseling or therapy?
A counselor or therapist is working to help you to feel better, change behavior, or improve your functioning. They will be helping you to pursue treatment goals. A forensic psychologist will usually be tasked with helping the court system by providing an objective opinion to a judge or attorney about your functioning or providing an opinion that is relevant to a specific legal question. They will not be "treating" you like a therapist does.
What will a forensic evaluation cost?
Some forensic evaluations are paid by the referring jurisdiction, such as the county. If you are paying for the evaluation yourself, the usual cost will be $300.00 per hour, though there are some exceptions.
Why can't my therapist just complete my evaluation?
Therapists sometimes submit letters or updates to the court about their work with clients. However for a person’s therapist to complete a forensic evaluation raises ethical concerns about a "dual role". The role of treating therapist is likely to be incompatible with the role of being an objective forensic evaluator. Your therapist is likely to see things from your point of view, which makes it very hard to be objective. Also, if their objective evaluation isn’t favorable to you in court that could impact the therapeutic relationship which would not be fair for you. A second reason is that most therapist are not trained in forensic evaluations.
Can a forensic evaluation be billed to insurance?
Except for a few rare exceptions, no. The reason for this is that forensic evaluations are not considered to be health care services and are not usually “medically necessary”. To bill insurance companies for services that are not medically necessary may be considered fraud.
How long will it take to complete my report?
This can vary depending on when we receive relevant information, court deadlines, and evaluator workload. If you and your attorney or the referring source communicate clearly about court dates or other deadlines, we will find a way to meet them.
Will I get a copy of my report?
Unless prohibited by law or court order, you can have a copy of your report on request. You may also review the report with Dr. Fischer and have any questions asked, with no additional charge.
Is my evaluation confidential?
The answer to this question depends on the details of your referral. If your evaluation is court ordered, it will be released to the court and likely to other parties such as attorneys involved in the case. If you are referred directly by your attorney, your evaluation may be confidential and/or covered by attorney client privilege. You will receive very clear information about this issue before beginning the evaluation.