The new Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (APA, 2011)

The new SGFP have been finalized by APLS (Div. 41 of APA). The Guidelines are available at the following link

The SGFP provide guidance and standards of practice for forensic psychologists. They are worth careful study for the practitioner wishing to do sound and ethical, i.e., high quality, forensic work.

The SGFP define the scope of forensic practice, outlines forensic psychologists’ ethical responsibilities (e.g., Competency, Fairness, Knowledge of the Scientific Foundation for Opinions and Testimony), and describes many other critical guidelines for practice.

Quoting the SGFP, “These Guidelines apply in all matters in which psychologists provide expertise to judicial, administrative, and educational systems including, but not limited to, examining or treating persons in anticipation of or subsequent to legal, contractual, administrative, proceedings; offering expert opinion about psychological issues in the form of amicus briefs or testimony to judicial, legislative or administrative bodies; acting in an adjudicative capacity; serving as a trial consultant or otherwise offering expertise to attorneys, the courts, or others; conducting research in connection with, or in the anticipation of, litigation; or involvement in educational activities of a forensic nature.”

Of greatest interest to the expert witness is the important paragraph addressing “methodology” in the conduct of forensic psychological work–2.05 Knowledge of the Scientific Foundation for Opinions and Testimony–Forensic practitioners seek to provide opinions and testimony that are sufficiently based upon adequate scientific foundation, and reliable and valid principles and methods that have been applied appropriately to the facts of the case.

Forensic psychologists rely on “adequate scientific foundation” and “reliable and valid principles and methods.”


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