Fellowship Training Activities

Forensic Evaluations, Assessments and Reports

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 staffThe fellow will conduct numerous evaluations during the training year. These evaluations will address competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility as well as civil commitment petitions and risk assessments. The fellows may also conduct other types of evaluations as requested and assigned, depending on interest, need, and each fellow’s skill level. All evaluations include a review of available records and an interview with the defendant or patient. Collateral interviews and psychological testing will be conducted, as needed, on a case-by-case basis. The selected fellows can expect to gain experience with the administration, scoring, and interpretation of numerous psychological assessment instruments, especially instruments geared toward forensic practice.


The base supervision provided by supervising psychologists will be focused on 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 professionally and effectively communicate with the court. While many of our fellows have arrived with well-developed clinical writing skills, a significant amount of time in supervision is focused on the process of writing forensic reports and the refinement of written and verbal communication skills.


Didactic Training

Didactic training will be provided to the fellows throughout the fellowship year. The fellow 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 Didactic Seminar: The forensic didactic seminar addresses 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: There are a variety of complex and interesting forensic cases at this facility and importance is placed on professional consultation to discuss difficult forensic issues. Therefore, the examiners and fellows have available a weekly meeting to discuss any difficult case issues, the associated case law, forensic nuances, and diagnostic anomalies. Once per month the case conference will focus on diversity issues. The fellow is expected to present at least one complex case that they encounter in a grand grounds style presentation.


  • Case Law: Since mental health case law is the foundation of forensic practice, the forensic fellow will receive extensive training in foundational case law through a study of landmark cases in a weekly 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 (optional): Intern seminar includes presentations provided by staff and community members regarding clinical and forensic practice. The fellow will be encouraged to present on a topic that is an area in line with their experience and expertise (e.g., dissertation, research, previous area of specialty).


Expert Testimony

The issue of competent expert testimony is viewed as a primary training issue for this fellowship. Training in this area is provided in several formats, including formal didactic training provided by our staff, individual supervision and observation, and a mock trial experience. A formal mock trial is conducted during the fellowship year to allow the fellow to refine their testimony skills and receive feedback from experts in the legal community. Other opportunities will be provided as they become available.


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 project to the training committees and other interested parties.


Projects are not required to adhere to a specific topic and may be decided depending upon 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.