Fellowship Training Activities

Forensic Evaluations

A majority of the fellows’ training will be derived from the hands-on experience of conducting forensic mental health evaluations with defendants and patients under the expertise of a clinical supervisor. Training experiences will progress in a graduated fashion depending on each fellow’s knowledge of and expertise in forensic psychology.

BHA staffDuring the training year, the fellow will conduct a number of evaluations on each rotation (please see Rotations for additional information on rotation options). All evaluations include a review of available records, an interview with the defendant or patient, and a written report. Collateral interviews and psychological testing will be conducted as needed, on a case-by-case basis. Fellows can expect to gain experience with the administration, scoring, and interpretation of a variety of psychological assessment instruments, especially instruments geared toward forensic practice.

Supervision will be provided by licensed psychologists, focusing on the practical application of best practices in forensic evaluation. The fellows will integrate behavioral observations, clinical interview results, collateral information, and test interpretations into clear and concise written reports to the court. There is a strong focus during the fellowship year on acquiring the necessary skills to communicate professionally and effectively with the court. While many of our fellows arrive with well-developed clinical writing skills, a significant amount of time in supervision is focused on the process of forensic report writing and verbal communication skills.


Expert Testimony

The issue of competent expert testimony is viewed as a primary training subject for this fellowship. Preparation for testimony starts with strong report writing and initial instruction from formal didactic training offered by staff. As available, opportunities are provided for the observation of testimony of licensed psychologists on various psycho-legal issues. Of particular pride to our training program is a formal mock trial experience, which is conducted with postdoctoral fellows and doctoral interns to refine their testimony skills and receive feedback from experts in the legal community. Each spring, the mock trial is hosted at Gonzaga University’s School of Law in Spokane, Washington. Defense and prosecuting attorneys practice direct- and cross-examination of our trainees in front of a superior court judge. The trainees receive feedback from the attorneys and the judge about their testimony. Other opportunities will be provided as they become available.


Didactic Training

Didactics will be provided to the fellows throughout the training year. Fellows will attend regularly scheduled, in-house didactic presentations addressing basic and advanced forensic topics and professional ethics. Didactic training is presented by forensic staff as well as professionals in the community and from other forensic facilities. The fellows are expected to complete all readings and attend all presentations.

  • Forensic Postdoctoral Seminar Series: The forensic didactic seminars address a wide range of basic and advanced topics related to forensic practice, forensic research, and professional ethics. Didactic seminars are typically held on Friday afternoons, September through June.


  • Forensic Case Conference: Fellows will gain exposure to a variety of complex and interesting forensic cases, and importance is placed on professional consultation to discuss difficult forensic issues. Case conferences are available for both trainees and current evaluators to present and discuss any difficult case issues, the associated case law, forensic nuances, and diagnostic anomalies. There are also opportunities to present complex cases for consultation in a grand rounds style case conference.


  • Case Law Seminar Series: Since mental health case law is the foundation of forensic practice, the forensic fellows will receive extensive training in foundational case law through a study of landmark cases in a biweekly case law series. This seminar additionally assists in preparation for forensic board certification. Along with other forensic staff members, the fellow will write legal briefs as assigned and take an active role in discussing the various cases.


  • Intern Seminar Series (optional): Intern seminars include presentations provided by staff and community members regarding clinical and forensic practice, with a greater emphasis on a broad range of clinical subjects. Fellows may have the opportunity to present on a topic in line with their experience and expertise (e.g., dissertation, research, previous specialty area).


Fellowship Research Requirements

Postdoctoral fellows will participate in a research project during their postdoctoral year. Fellows are required to participate in a project but may collaborate on a project or join an extant project if one is available. Fellows may present their project, if accepted, at a national or international conference (such as the AP-LS annual conference) or may submit the project for publication in an academic journal. At the end of the fellowship year, fellows will present their completed projects to the training committees and other interested parties.

Projects are not required to adhere to a specific topic and may be decided depending on the interests of the fellowship class. However, projects should be of a scope that may be finished within the course of the fellowship year and are limited to areas of forensic psychology that are relevant to the training provided by the OFMHS postdoctoral fellowship. Projects are also limited, practically, to data that can be collected from sources readily available to the fellows.


Additional Activities

Fellows also participate in additional activities, including supervision of doctoral interns (e.g., group supervision, supervising the completion of psychological testing measures), research committee work, and completion of formal check-ins with defendants awaiting competency restoration services.