Forensic Psychology

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Forensic Psychologists & the Courts]

    • 00:11

      RAY KIM: If they feel like he's notin imminent danger to others, he may be able to get probation.But all of that's really in the handsof the court and the judge.My name is Dr. Ray Kim.I'm a licensed clinical psychologist. [Ray S. Kim, PhD,Forensic Psychologist] And I'm alsoa board certified forensic psychologist.I received my bachelor's degree from Northwestern University

    • 00:32

      RAY KIM [continued]: in Psychology.And I also received my master's and my PhDin clinical psychology from Temple University.I also did a postdoctorate in forensic psychologyat Elgin Mental Health Center.I'm a forensic psychologist with the IllinoisDepartment of Human Services, but I alsohave a private practice.

    • 00:53

      RAY KIM [continued]: So let's start out with some questions about your history.Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?

    • 00:59

      PATIENT 1: Falsely, yeah.

    • 01:00

      RAY KIM: Falsely.OK.What were you diagnosed with?

    • 01:03

      PATIENT 1: Paranoid schizophreniaor paranoid delusion disorder, something.I don't know.

    • 01:08

      RAY KIM: OK.As a forensic psychologist, I do evaluations to provideinformation for the courts.For instance, some of the questions that I answerhave to do with fitness or competencyto stand trial, risk for violence,and risk for sexual violence, for instance.In addition to evaluations, I also

    • 01:28

      RAY KIM [continued]: provide treatment services.For instance, I have a caseload of individualswho are unfit to stand trial.So I provide fitness restoration services for them.I also have some administrative responsibilities.I supervise a team of psychologistsand social workers who go into various jailsand they evaluate inmates.

    • 01:51

      RAY KIM [continued]: So I review their reports and I approve their recommendations.I also have some training responsibilities, as well.I supervise a forensic psychology practicum program.I also do some trainings on topics such as risk assessmentand also court report writing.Forensic psychology is different from other strands

    • 02:14

      RAY KIM [continued]: of psychology for a number of reasons.For instance, in terms of the populationswe serve, the settings that we work in, and alsothe roles that we play.Typically, forensic psychologists,although they do some treatment, theyfocus more on doing evaluations.Clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists--

    • 02:36

      RAY KIM [continued]: they tend to focus more on doing treatment, therapy,helping people cope with their problems betterand reducing their symptoms of mental illness.And forensic psychologists tend to focus moreon doing evaluations.A good way to look at it is that forensic psychologyis the intersection between psychology and the law.

    • 02:59

      RAY KIM [continued]: So you're going to see forensic psychologists have clientswho are somehow legally involved,either in the criminal justice systemor in the civil court system.So you're going to find forensic psychologists workingin settings such as jails, prisons, forensic hospitals,or in the courtroom.

    • 03:19

      RAY KIM [continued]: Where you're going to find other kinds of psychologists workin other settings such as clinics, in the community,places like schools, hospitals, that type of thing.My days are pretty long.I have a lot of different locations I go to.

    • 03:40

      RAY KIM [continued]: I work for the State, so one placethat I go to on a regular basis is Elgin Mental Health Center.That's my full-time job.But I also have my private practice that I go to.So I have about three other offices.And one is in Schaumburg, one is in Crystal Lake,one is in Hoffman Estates.But also for the State, whenever I have to do an evaluation,I may have to drive pretty long distances

    • 04:03

      RAY KIM [continued]: to different facilities.For instance, later this week, I'vebeen asked to go to Chester Mental Health Center, whichis a good six to seven hour drive to do an evaluation.It's a risk assessment.Just about every day, I'm always working on a report.Because every time you do an evaluation,you have to put together a report that goes to court.

    • 04:25

      RAY KIM [continued]: Typical day at the State-- I also do some treatment,I provide fitness restoration servicesto a caseload of defendants who werefound unfit to stand trial.If needed, I also will be asked to testify in court on a case.But that's something that doesn't usuallyhappen on a regular basis, just as needed.

    • 04:48

      RAY KIM [continued]: In the evenings, I have my private practice.So I have office hours from 5:00 PMuntil 8:00 PM, Monday through Friday.I also work on Saturdays.The morning hours I tend to focus moreon traditional counseling.And then the afternoons on Saturdays, Ifocus more on my forensic work, doing

    • 05:08

      RAY KIM [continued]: forensic evaluations, court-ordered evaluations,that type of thing.So you've never done outpatient.And when they released you from the hospital,you didn't take any medication, either?

    • 05:18

      PATIENT 1: No.I didn't want to.

    • 05:20

      RAY KIM: OK.How about right now, are you taking any medicine?

    • 05:22

      PATIENT 1: No.I was supposed to be, but.

    • 05:24

      RAY KIM: Within the criminal justice system,I have multiple roles.One of my roles is I supervise a forensic outpatient program.So I evaluate individuals who are eitherunfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanityand ordered for services on an outpatient basis.These are individuals who are notin custody but are out on bond and ordered

    • 05:46

      RAY KIM [continued]: for services on an outpatient basis in the community.So that's one of my roles within the criminal justice system.I also supervise a team of psychologistsand social workers who go into jailsand conduct what we call preplacement evaluations.What they do is they evaluate defendants

    • 06:08

      RAY KIM [continued]: who are in custody who are eitherunfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity.And they're ordered for inpatient services.So the job of the evaluator is to go in there,determine what their treatment needs are,and determine the best place to place them,because we have minimum secure facilities,we have medium secure facilities,

    • 06:31

      RAY KIM [continued]: and a maximum-secure facility.So based on their clinical presentationand their behavior, we determine what level of care they need.So if someone has a high risk for violence,has a history of violence, is acting up aggressivelyin the jail, or they're an elopement risk,so they have a history of escaping from facilities,

    • 06:55

      RAY KIM [continued]: they're going to have to go to the maximum secure facility.Another factor we look for is their clinical presentation.So if they have a mental illness,we have facilities that specializesin treating mental illness.We have facilities that focus on developmental disabilitiesand facilities that focus on both developmental disorders

    • 07:17

      RAY KIM [continued]: and mental illness.But I would say the main role that Ihave within the criminal justice systemis conducting evaluations to assist the courts in makinginformed decisions about how to proceed with the defendant.

    • 07:32

      PATIENT 1: So about my DA, I can't trust him.So I'm going to represent myself.

    • 07:36

      RAY KIM: You're going to represent yourself?

    • 07:37

      PATIENT 1: Yeah.Well, that makes better sense than a lawyerthat's kind of in cahoots with the state's attorney.

    • 07:42

      RAY KIM: My personal opinion is I would reallyrecommend getting a lawyer.If you can't afford a lawyer, you can certainlyget a public defender.My experience with those kind of caseswhere you're trying to represent yourself,they don't usually go very well.So just think about this.

    • 07:60

      PATIENT 1: Yes.

    • 08:01

      RAY KIM: As far as the clients I typically work with,there's two main groups.One are individuals who've been found unfit to stand trial.Or in some states, they refer to them as not competent to standtrial due to mental illness or cognitive impairments.So some of the diagnoses that we see

    • 08:21

      RAY KIM [continued]: are mood disorders such as bipolar disorderand depression, psychotic disorderssuch as schizophrenia, as well ascognitive impairment, diagnoses such as dementiaor intellectual disability.So I just finished evaluating Mr. Garcia at the jail.Cognitively, he's in the average range.

    • 08:43

      RAY KIM [continued]: But he did take a while, so it took about four sessionsto get everything done.Now, does he know he was charged with 11counts of aggravated criminal sexual abusefor having some sexual encounters with a 14-year-old?The other major population are sex offenders.In addition to being a licensed clinical psychologist,

    • 09:03

      RAY KIM [continued]: I'm also a licensed sex offender evaluator and a licensed sexoffender treatment provider.So I also do court ordered evaluationsfor sexual dangerousness and also maketreatment recommendations for this population, as well.

    • 09:20

      SPEAKER 1: He did claim that it was her willing to take part.

    • 09:26

      RAY KIM: Right, right.He wanted her to keep it a secret, too.And he did admit to that.He knew what he was doing was against the law.Whenever a defendant is found unfit to stand trialor not guilty by reason of insanity,and they're ordered for outpatient services,those court orders come to me.

    • 09:48

      RAY KIM [continued]: So I cover the northern portion of Illinois,which includes Cook County and the collar counties.So I process all of those court orders.I do most of those evaluations.But a couple years ago, we contracted with the ChicagoSchool Forensic Center to help out

    • 10:08

      RAY KIM [continued]: with some of these evaluations.So all the Cook County evaluationsfor individuals who are found unfit to stand trialare referred to the Chicago School.Except for those who are not guilty by reason of insanity,I still do those evaluations.Right now, I'm one of two psychologists in the IllinoisDepartment of Human Services who does this particular kind

    • 10:31

      RAY KIM [continued]: of sex offender evaluation under the Sexually Violent PersonsCommitment Act.So I do these evaluations for the northern part of Illinois.And then we have another psychologistwho does those evaluations for the southern portionof Illinois.Under the civil court system, the most common evaluationsI tend to do would be independent medical

    • 10:52

      RAY KIM [continued]: examinations.These are for cases of workers' compensation,disability determination, those kinds of issues.I also do fitness for duty evaluations.So I tend to do those if an employee hassome kind of incident at work where the employer is concernedabout them.I evaluate them to determine if they're

    • 11:15

      RAY KIM [continued]: competent to return to work againor if they need some services-- mental healthtreatment or substance abuse treatment-- before theycan return to work.So those are some of the common ones I do on the civil side.I also work with family law.So I answer questions related to custody,

    • 11:36

      RAY KIM [continued]: also parenting time, those kind of issues.More recently, I've gotten several referralshaving to do with immigration-- someone whomay have had a previous offense or there's some circumstancewhere they're required to have an evaluationto determine whether they're safe to be in the country.Or, these individuals come to me because they're

    • 11:57

      RAY KIM [continued]: at risk of being deported and theyneed to have this evaluation.The other type of evaluation I've been getting more recentlyare individuals who want to own a firearmbut they've had a psychiatric hospitalization in the past.So they're required to have this evaluationto determine whether they are considered a clear and present

    • 12:17

      RAY KIM [continued]: danger to themselves or others.So I've administered some actuarial instrumentsto assess his risk of recidivism or future sexual dangerousness.So I administered the Static-99R,which looks at static or historical risk factors.And he came out in the low to moderate range of someone

    • 12:41

      RAY KIM [continued]: who's going to re-offend.Ethical issues that I have to dealwith as a forensic psychologist-- fewcome to mind.One is when you're doing one of these forensic evaluations,you have to be unbiased.When you're doing an evaluation, a forensic psychologistis going to be feeling different kinds of pressures.Pressures from the defendant, the defense attorney,

    • 13:03

      RAY KIM [continued]: the state's attorney, sometimes facilitieswho want to get someone discharged or moved upto a higher level of security.So it's very important that you just look at the dataand make recommendations that are clinically appropriateand not be too influenced by all of these other parties.

    • 13:24

      RAY KIM [continued]: So that's one ethical issue.Another ethical issue I think is the balancebetween the safety of the community,but also the rights of the defendant.And the last scale that I administeredwas the Acute 2007, which looks at dynamic or changeable riskfactors for being sexually dangerous in the future.

    • 13:47

      RAY KIM [continued]: And he was in the moderate risk range.So when you look at all three of those measures,he comes out as a moderate risk for recidivism,a moderate risk of having a new sex offense in the future.Not all sex offenders are the same.Some people may think we should lock them all up,

    • 14:07

      RAY KIM [continued]: throw away the key.But the reality is, sex offenders and other offendersreally vary in terms of their risk of re-offending.Some are low, some are moderate risk, some are high risk.So you really have to balance whatis appropriate for the community,but what is also fair for the defendant.

    • 14:28

      RAY KIM [continued]: I am recommending sex offender treatment.So we're going to have to identify a providerfor that piece of it.And I'm also recommending a sexual history polygraph justto see his credibility in terms of what he has reported to us.And I'm definitely recommending that he does not

    • 14:48

      RAY KIM [continued]: have any unsupervised contact with children or adolescents.There should always be an adult with him.The third one that comes to mind has to do with boundary issues.What I mean by that is, when you're evaluating someone,this person is your client.They're not your buddy.So you have to really keep strict boundaries

    • 15:11

      RAY KIM [continued]: between being the evaluator and the other personbeing the defendant.Because the thing with the forensic population is somehave antisocial personality characteristics,psychopathic tendencies.And they're going to be good manipulatorsand be able to get things that they want.

    • 15:33

      RAY KIM [continued]: So you don't want to get too close to them.It's kind of like that movie Silence of the Lambs.You don't want Hannibal Lecter in your head.Just your experience with Mr. Garcia,what kind of personality characteristics did you notice?

    • 15:47

      SPEAKER 1: He appears to be remorseful.He seems to not have good coping skills with impulse control.

    • 15:58

      RAY KIM: Do you think he has any kindsof antisocial or psychopathic tendencies, have you noticed,working with him?

    • 16:06

      SPEAKER 1: I did not see any of that.

    • 16:08

      RAY KIM: OK.All right.Well, a good psychopath is going to be pretty good at maskingthose kind of symptoms.

    • 16:13

      SPEAKER 1: Absolutely, right.

    • 16:15

      RAY KIM: So the most important impactthat my work has on the communityis forensic psychologists are oneof the gatekeepers of the court system in terms of making surethat people who are safe are in the community,people who are not safe are not in the community.So we make those determinations.

    • 16:37

      RAY KIM [continued]: But the most we can do is make a recommendation.Whether someone is a low-risk personand can be in the community, it'sthe courts that make that legal decision.But even if we recommend someone to bean outpatient or in a less restrictive setting,it's important that that's with conditions,

    • 16:59

      RAY KIM [continued]: such as a mental health treatment, sex offendertreatment, or complying with other forms of treatment,whatever they need.So what were you charged with?

    • 17:09

      PATIENT 1: Well, they said it was a five finger discountkind of thing.

    • 17:13

      RAY KIM: What do you mean by that?

    • 17:14

      PATIENT 1: Stealing, I guess, they say.So, yeah.

    • 17:18

      RAY KIM: So did they charge you with retail theft, then?

    • 17:21

      PATIENT 1: I think so.But they really should charge me for taking care of my kids.What am I to do?

    • 17:26

      RAY KIM: So you feel like you had to do that.

    • 17:28

      PATIENT 1: Well, yeah.Yeah, plus I did have voices telling me.

    • 17:33

      RAY KIM: The most interesting and most challengingaspect of my work is conducting these forensic evaluations.Most interesting, I would say, because forensic clients alwayshave some kind of an interesting story to tell.And each one is different, and just learningabout their background.

    • 17:54

      RAY KIM [continued]: So I would say the actual forensic clientis very interesting.But they're also challenging because most forensic patientshave some underlying agenda.For instance, someone who's sitting in jailmay want to malinger or fake a mental illnessso that they can spend time in a hospital

    • 18:16

      RAY KIM [continued]: rather than in a jail cell.So we have to be very cautious that we'reassessing for malingering.On the other hand, some patients who are alreadyin a mental health facility-- for instance,someone who's not guilty by reason of insanity and theywant more privileges or they want to be conditionallyreleased in the community-- they may want

    • 18:38

      RAY KIM [continued]: to minimize their symptoms.So the challenge is being able to weedout those characteristics or those people who are eithermalingering or minimizing their symptoms of mental illness.Oh.Hi, Ann.

    • 18:54

      PATIENT 2: Hi, Dr. Kim.

    • 18:55

      RAY KIM: Good to see you.Come on in.You can hang your coat up here.You remember Bugsy, right?

    • 19:02

      PATIENT 2: Yeah.Hi, Bugsy.OK

    • 19:07

      RAY KIM: So how has life been since last time I saw you?

    • 19:11

      PATIENT 2: Good, good.It's okay.

    • 19:12

      RAY KIM: Bugsy is my therapy dog.He's a registered therapy dog through Therapy DogsInternational.So to become a therapy dog, he hadto go through a battery of tests.He had to have the right demeanor.He had to go through a medical examto make sure that he's healthy.But from my perspective, it's a wonderful thing

    • 19:33

      RAY KIM [continued]: having your dog come to work, if you can imagine.So really enjoy Bugsy being my partner, my co-therapist,you may call him.On a scale of 1 to 10, how would yousay your depression level is.

    • 19:46

      PATIENT 2: I would say about five.About a five.

    • 19:48

      RAY KIM: OK, OK.I remember the first time we met,you were at a one or a two.So I think five is an improvement, right.The main reason I've integrated Bugsy into my practiceis he really helps to bring people to feel more comfortablewith the therapy process.Bugsy is great with children, but he's also

    • 20:11

      RAY KIM [continued]: great with adults.I do get clients who are resistive to treatment.They tend to be more introversiveand don't like to talk about their problems.So Bugsy is also helpful for me whenI have adult clients who are like that, as well.It just helps them to open up more.I need to keep very strict boundaries between my state

    • 20:35

      RAY KIM [continued]: job and my private practice.So for instance, in my state job,I work with individuals who are unfit to stand trial,not guilty by reason of insanity,and those who are being evaluated for sexual violence.So those are the types of cases that I cannot see on a private

    • 20:55

      RAY KIM [continued]: basis.I can see some individuals for sex offender evaluations,but not those under this particular statute calledthe Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.So I need to keep strict boundaries.If a person is interested in psychologybut they're also interested in the law,

    • 21:17

      RAY KIM [continued]: I think forensic psychology is just a wonderful fieldto be in.One piece of advice that I'd give to a student who'sinterested in forensic psychologyis doing exactly what you're doing.What I would do is try to find a practicing forensicpsychologist and interview them.I've actually had people contact me online

    • 21:38

      RAY KIM [continued]: to see if I would be willing to set up a meeting with them,to go over what I do and just basically the pros and consof being a forensic psychologist,whatever questions they have.So I think it's really important before you go on that roadto become a forensic psychologist, it's

    • 21:58

      RAY KIM [continued]: very important to know this is what you want to do,because that road can be challenging.You need a bachelor's degree in psychology.You need a master's doctoral degreein either clinical psychology or forensic psychology.You're also going to want to get practicuminternship, postdoctorate experience

    • 22:19

      RAY KIM [continued]: in forensic psychology, as well.And those graduate schools are very competitive to get into.My recollection, as far as the statistics-- and thiswas years ago, it's probably more competitivenow-- but years ago, to get into the program I went to,there were over 300 applications, about50 interviews for 10 positions.

    • 22:40

      RAY KIM [continued]: So it's highly competitive.So before you make that decision--this is the road I want to take-- you reallywant to make sure this is the fieldthat you're interested in.Some of the key skills that are important to haveas a forensic psychologist-- first of all,you need to have good clinical skills.And in particular, assessment and evaluation.

    • 23:03

      RAY KIM [continued]: I think that's the most importantin terms of being a forensic psychologist.So you want to be a good listener.You want to be a good observer.You also want to be a good detectivebecause you're putting together all the dataand offering your opinion.So that's one very important skill.

    • 23:23

      RAY KIM [continued]: Another important skill is you have to be a good writer.You have to be able to write a persuasive report that you'regoing to present to the courts because report writing isreally the primary way that we communicate with the courts.So good writing skills.And also good verbal skills because, from time to time,

    • 23:45

      RAY KIM [continued]: if there's a contested hearing, you alsohave to testify in court.So you have to be comfortable with public speaking.And I would say you also have to have a thick skin.Because when you're in court, the direct examination usuallygoes fine but the cross examinationcan be quite unpleasant.Even after the years that I've been

    • 24:07

      RAY KIM [continued]: working as a forensic psychologist,it can still be quite unpleasant.But the way I deal with it is I look at itis this is the attorney's job.This is what they're supposed to do.And I try my best not to take it personally.But they're trying to discredit you.They're trying to poke holes in your arguments

    • 24:28

      RAY KIM [continued]: and in your opinion.So that's another piece of advice.I would say that if you wanted to becomea forensic psychologist, you haveto be comfortable with the legal system.And I think you have to begin to growa thick skin to be able to deal with allthe pressures involved.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Forensic Psychology

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Dr. Ray Kim discusses forensic psychology and what a career in forensic psychology entails. His duties include the psychological evaluation of individuals who are going through the criminal justice system to determine their competency to stand trial and risk of violence, as well as other forensic matters. Dr. Kim describes the education, training, and key skills that are necessary to have a successful career in forensic psychology.

SAGE Video In Practice
Forensic Psychology

Dr. Ray Kim discusses forensic psychology and what a career in forensic psychology entails. His duties include the psychological evaluation of individuals who are going through the criminal justice system to determine their competency to stand trial and risk of violence, as well as other forensic matters. Dr. Kim describes the education, training, and key skills that are necessary to have a successful career in forensic psychology.

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