Friday, December 9, 2016

Cross Examining Psych Doctors - Tip #59-Administering Psychological Tests
The circumstances under which psychological tests are administered can be crucial for the outcome of those tests. Generally, it is important for tests to be administered under standardized conditions that guarantee that the testing environment provides adequate seating and lighting, privacy, ventilation and an absence of distractions such as noise. It is also important to have a test proctor oversee the process and make sure that the examinee is completing the tests in the prescribed manner and not, for example, responding randomly, making errors as a result of a lack of understanding of the instructions, or obtaining assistance in completing the tests from an unauthorized person or persons who could deliberately or inadvertently grossly distort the test’s results.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cross Examining Psych Doctors - Tip #58-Specifying Personality Traits on Axis II
Personality traits or features are enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts but are not sufficiently maladaptive to warrant concluding that the individual suffers from one of the Personality Disorders.  It is only when those traits lead to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning that it is reasonable to diagnose a Personality Disorder.  Information about personality traits is typically provided by the doctor to give the reader what they believe is significant information that will be helpful in understanding the patient.  However, since everyone has personality traits, the specification of those traits in a medical-legal report is not especially meaningful if one is concerned with using that report to determine if the person has suffered a psych injury.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cross Examining Psych Doctors - Tip #57-The Five Axes Diagnostic System
Doctors often provide their diagnosis using the five axes diagnostic system. Axis I is reserved for diagnosing most psychological disorders, one exception being Personality Disorders, which are diagnosed on Axis II. The reader of the report should look for Axes III, IV and V where the doctor normally provides information about the individual’s general medical conditions, psychosocial and environmental problems and levels of Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). The GAF score is especially important in medical-legal cases since it provides information about the individual’s level of functioning that may be relevant to the court’s decisions about disability. As per the DSM, it is also important that the doctor specify an individual’s GAF score at both the time of the evaluation and the highest GAF score they obtained during the past year.