Forensic practitioners, whether from the legal or mental health arena, apply the principles of both of
these disciplines where there are concerns about the mental state or capacity of one of the parties to a
ere are a number of vantage points from and junctures at which forensic practitioners operate.
Additionally, there are many places where the disciplines are practiced. ese include universities, with
their research-oriented approaches; hospital-based and private-practice settings, with their clinical
focus; correctional settings; and in-house consulting with law enforcement agencies, to name just a few.
Regardless of the perspective or the application, the theory and clinical skills of the forensic practitioner
will inevitably be directed to situations that call for the special expertise of the forensic mental health
e extent to which expert witnesses should play a role in the courts, in other tribunals, and in related
components of the legal system, has been a matter of some controversy during recent years. While the
theoretical elements of the argument against the importation of psychological or medical principles into
an increasing number of legal (and other) contexts are of philosophical and heuristic interest, need — as
is oen the case — rules the day. But for an ever-expanding list of actionable behaviours presumed to
have a psychological basis, a more static picture might be expected. As well, we must consider the growing
number of legal and professional obligations to which clinicians are subjected. e fairly recent obliga-
tion to disclose the sexually inappropriate conduct of a health professional and the very recent require-
ment (or, as some would argue, permission) to breach a patient’s condentiality in order to protect a third
party from imminent and serious physical or psychological harm are two prime examples. e legal
system has, in fact, devised a number of creative ways for the mental health practitioner to participate in
the legal process. e need has generated tacit acceptance of the value of expertise, notwithstanding any
questions that might be raised about the extent to which it is grounded in science.
As the need for forensic expertise in the courtroom has grown, as new subject areas for mental
health research and expertise have come to the fore in the last decade, this book has taken shape. What
we originally and provisionally entitled a “handbook” grew into a comprehensive text. is book was
specically designed for a diverse readership that includes trainees in psychiatry (especially those who
are contemplati ng a career in forensic psychiatry); forensic and genera l psychiat rists; psychologists;
lawyers and judges; provincial and territorial review board members; social services agency workers;
and individuals who work in law enforcement, probation and parole, and corrections. We have carefully
tried to anticipate all of the psycholegal issues and questions that could potentially arise in each of the
areas within which our intended readership works.
e diversity of our readership and the number of topics we chose to cover dictated our approach and
set the tone. We opted for an approach that synthesizes the key clinical, legal, scientic, and practical
aspects of each topic and presents them in what is, hopefully, a user-friendly format. In order to keep
a book of this size and scope from becoming unwieldy, we compartmentalized, to the extent possible,

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