How do I know if a Psychologist can be an Expert Witness in my case?

Do I need a psychiatrist instead?

What does a Forensic Psychologist do? Are they qualified to be an Expert Witness?

A psychologist has training in treatment of mood disorders, like depression, or life coping mechanisms. They can diagnose some psychological disorders.

A psychologist cannot prescribe medicine or evaluate medical conditions.  A psychologist cannot prescribe an anti-depressant, though they may suspect one will help their patient.  The psychologist must turn to a psychiatrist.

There are excellent psychologists who serve as knowledgeable and well-qualified Expert Witnesses when their opinions are within the purview of their training and licensing.

Neuropsychologists also may have a forensic role, to conduct neuropsychological testing and report and interpret results. Psychiatrists generally are not qualified in this regard. Dr. Adhia may recommend a neuropsychologist be brought in, especially if neurocognitive disorders are suspected.  In such cases, he works in tendem with neuropsychologists.

Can a psychologist interpret medical records? How about lab reports?

No, a psychologist is not licensed to practice medicine. Medical records contain medical information only a doctor (MD or DO) is licensed to interpret. Similarly, lab and medical record interpretation falls under the “practice of medicine.” A psychologist cannot order Lab reports and is not qualified or licensed to interpret the results, though psychologists may turn to a collaborating psychiatrist.

Many psychologists do read and understand medical records, especially those of a treating psychologist practicing in their own field.

The ability to understand is not the full picture.

Familiarity and ease reading medical records is not the same as rendering medical opinions in Court as an Expert Witness. 

Absent medical training, a psychologist may well misinterpret medical information or improperly presume a diagnosis when complicated medical factors are present.

Diagnosing Anxiety is within a psychologist’s “sandbox,” but there is a risk if the interaction of psychiatric disorders makes for a complicating diagnosis. For example, Anxiety symptoms could a possible side effect of a medication for a different medical condition, or perhaps multiple psychiatric disorders are making diagnosis difficult. 

About Toxicology and Lab Results:  Toxicology and lab reports can be crucial in a legal matter. Dr. Adhia is a Medical Review Officer reflecting special training and credentialing. A psychologist cannot be a Medical Review Officer. Only licensed physicians are eligible.

Can a psychologist address physical injuries?

Injuries can be complex and there may be more than one medical factor impacting symptoms. In the case of an accident, it is not uncommon for a person to receive medications to manage symptoms, such as for pain. A psychologist cannot order physical therapy or other rehabilitation treatment. A psychologist may be a specialist in psychological control of chronic pain.  A psychologist  prognosis or competency restoration after medical treatment  A psychologist can make a recommendation

Fewer than 1% of licensed Psychologists have Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology.

Medico-Legal training is almost unheard of among psychologists. Only a tiny percentage of licensed psychologists achieve Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology and are limited in their forensic conclusions.

The qualifications of Opposing Counsel’s Expert

If your Expert Witness is a Psychiatrist and opposing counsel has retained a Psychologist, then qualifications and credentials become especially important to a jury. If a medical condition of any kind is present, the psychologist may even be disqualified from testifying about its impact.

Dr. Adhia advises attorneys about the distinctions. He assists attorneys in forming deposition, direct and cross-examination questions that clarify scope of the psychologist’s opinions and professional limitations, that may be present in an expert witness report by a psychologist.

Learn more about the distinction between psychiatrists and psychologist in the article Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist.

How do I know if a Psychologist can

do the job as an Expert Witness?

Do I need a psychiatrist instead?

What does a Forensic Psychologist do? Are they qualified to be an Expert Witness?

A psychologist has training in treatment of mood disorders, like depression, or life coping mechanisms. They can diagnose some psychological disorders.

A psychologist cannot prescribe medicine or evaluate medical conditions.  A psychologist cannot prescribe an anti-depressant, though they may suspect one will help their patient.  The psychologist must turn to a psychiatrist.

There are excellent psychologists who serve as knowledgeable and well-qualified Expert Witnesses when their opinions are within the purview of their training and licensing.

Neuropsychologists also may have a forensic role, to conduct neuropsychological testing and report and interpret results. Psychiatrists generally are not qualified in this regard. Dr. Adhia may recommend a neuropsychologist be brought in, especially if neurocognitive disorders are suspected.  In such cases, he works in tendem with neuropsychologists.

Can a psychologist interpret medical records? How about lab reports?

No, a psychologist is not licensed to practice medicine. Medical records contain medical information only a doctor (MD or DO) is licensed to interpret. Similarly, lab and medical record interpretation falls under the “practice of medicine.” A psychologist cannot order Lab reports and is not qualified or licensed to interpret the results, though psychologists may turn to a collaborating psychiatrist.

Many psychologists do read and understand medical records, especially those of a treating psychologist practicing in their own field.

The ability to understand is not the full picture.

Familiarity and ease reading medical records is not the same as rendering medical opinions in Court as an Expert Witness. 

Absent medical training, a psychologist may well misinterpret medical information or improperly presume a diagnosis when complicated medical factors are present.

Diagnosing Anxiety is within a psychologist’s “sandbox,” but there is a risk if the interaction of psychiatric disorders makes for a complicating diagnosis. For example, Anxiety symptoms could a possible side effect of a medication for a different medical condition, or perhaps multiple psychiatric disorders are making diagnosis difficult. 

About Toxicology and Lab Results:  Toxicology and lab reports can be crucial in a legal matter. Dr. Adhia is a Medical Review Officer reflecting special training and credentialing. A psychologist cannot be a Medical Review Officer. Only licensed physicians are eligible.

Can a psychologist address physical injuries?

Injuries can be complex and there may be more than one medical factor impacting symptoms. In the case of an accident, it is not uncommon for a person to receive medications to manage symptoms, such as for pain. A psychologist cannot order physical therapy or other rehabilitation treatment. A psychologist may be a specialist in psychological control of chronic pain.  A psychologist  prognosis or competency restoration after medical treatment  A psychologist can make a recommendation

Fewer than 1% of licensed Psychologists have Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology.

Medico-Legal training is almost unheard of among psychologists. Only a tiny percentage of licensed psychologists achieve Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology and are limited in their forensic conclusions.

The qualifications of Opposing Counsel’s Expert

If your Expert Witness is a Psychiatrist and opposing counsel has retained a Psychologist, then qualifications and credentials become especially important to a jury. If a medical condition of any kind is present, the psychologist may even be disqualified from testifying about its impact.

Dr. Adhia advises attorneys about the distinctions. He assists attorneys in forming deposition, direct and cross-examination questions that clarify scope of the psychologist’s opinions and professional limitations, that may be present in an expert witness report by a psychologist.

Learn more about the distinction between psychiatrists and psychologist in the article Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist.