Written by attorney Peter Christopher Lomtevas

Psychobabble and Psychological Testing: Custodial Evaluation Manipulation - The Methodology

Technical Failures: Varying Methodology

The typical expert will typically fashion a methodology by which to produce a report for the court that appointed him.

Perhaps a family-based methodology may include interviewing the parents and the children, interviewing school personnel, interviewing extended family members and perhaps testing if at all. The central focus of any custodial evaluation is the best fit for the child: whether custody with father or custody with mother. Any other focus is inadmissible for being irrelevant.

However, today, the psychological evaluation report has degenerated to nothing more than a boat load of hearsay intended to make it to the judge’s bench as evidence in a case.

To that end, the psychologist will record the facts most acceptable to the psychologist and then will offer forensic testing to bolster his set of facts appropriate for him and demean opposition by negative findings on the psychological tests.

How is this accomplished? There is a sophisticated paper trail that is manipulated as follows.

Forensic notes are sheets of paper with the psychologist’s own handwritten notes recorded at the time of an interview. The typical expert will make absolutely no forensic notes of his interviews with anyone and will therefore testify that he does not know at what time a particular interviewee arrived in the office for evaluation, assessment or testing. Typically, the expert will refer to his report as “notes" when in fact the report is no “notes"; it is the finished “report".

The expert may be unable to pin down the schedule of the meeting dates between him and the subjects and may have difficulty calculating the number of minutes he spent for those meetings.

Psychological Testing

The expert will typically administer psychological tests to the parents and children.

This is a listing of the most typical psychological tests offered by court appointed psychologists. There is no exhaustive listing of these tests because they constantly evolve.

The typical test administered by a court appointed psychologist will be easy and quick. It is not even a test. These things are a “self assessments" which means the subject gauges his own thoughts and feelings and blackens bubbles corresponding to his thinking. The psychologist does nothing but merely grade and interpret the answers any way he wants. Some tests have as few as 10 questions and psychologists jealously guard these tests because if the subject has any familiarity with the questions, the test questions will be answered improperly and the resulting “grade" will be invalid.

Paulhus Deception Scale

This is a 40-item questionnaire that is able to identify individuals who distort their responses. It is designed to be administered concurrently with other instruments. Items are phrased in contemporary, gender-neutral language.

This is a controversial test that has questions of its social desirability research and the lack of support of its validity.

The psychologist can use this test to say a subject was evasive.

The Shipley Institute of Living Scale-2

This is a test for general intellectual functioning. This test can be administered in 25 minutes and scored in 5 minutes. It measures “crystallized knowledge" -- that gained through education and experience, and “fluid reasoning" -- the capacity to use logic to learn and acquire new information or solve problems. It is based upon a “norm" of 2,800 people. So it is not a deep probe into a subject’s thinking and it is only as accurate as its normative population. The psychologist may disparage a subject by opining that the Shipley revealed retarded functioning therefore a subject is not to be believed. This is an abuse of this test.

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