Psychologists have become accepted as experts
with regards to Family Law matters, including custody, access and
parental competence. It is generally assumed that both their methods
and their opinions reflect professional expertise which is inherently
superior to common sense.
As well, there is a predominant belief that their recommendations
are truly in the best interests of the child. Their reports carry
weight; they influence judicial decisions.
But, as a psychologist with decades of experience in the profession,
I have become more than a touch skeptical. While it may seem heretical
to suggest that what my profession offers to the courts may actually
be of little value, I no longer hesitate to do so. I encourage people
How solid is the foundation of knowledge on which the recommendations
How legitimate is the expertise?
Could it be an illusion?
Should their reports carry weight?
Is it possible that judicial decisions would be as good, if not
better, without this input?
This presentation will address these and other provocative questions.
It will look briefly at the growth of the forensic role of the psychology
profession, its use of testing and the nature of its theories. And
it will encourage all present to approach what psychology offers
with much greater skepticism.