How do family reports gain insights into a family dynamic given the short time available?


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This is one response from the Expert Interview Series: Dr. Travis Gee. Refer to the table of contents for the whole series of questions posed to Psychologist Dr Travis Gee, on the topic of Family Reports and the Psychology Industry in Family Law.

8. As a psychologist, what are the apt methodologies of completing a family report and not obstructing the development of justice for all parties involve?

completing-a-family-reportAs mentioned above, wherever mental health issues are raised, properly-conducted psychometric assessments early in the piece are important, because of possible contamination where ‘clinical interviews’ can muddy the waters, by sending people off to research that of which they have been accused.

Proper assessment can then inform a report done later, because the best tests are ones that are stable over time, and ideally have validity scales built in to discern attempts to present oneself as “too good,” rather than answering honestly.

As well, report writers who understand the test results are important, and unfortunately, some report writers are counsellors not trained in the process, with little to no understanding of the results and/or their implications, not to mention the value and interpretation of the ones with which they may be provided.

There is also the consideration of what I mentioned before, about ‘facts’ to be considered.  These are not established except by the Family Law Courts, and in the current system, are not established at all at the time of writing of the report.

An evidence hearing early in the piece, well prior to final hearing, to determine which facts can be considered as part of the report, would allow greater scope to incorporate all data and draw better conclusions.

An evidence hearing early in the piece, well prior to final hearing, to determine which facts can be considered as part of the report, would allow greater scope to incorporate all data and draw better conclusions.

As well, I am of the view that recording of interviews should be standard procedure. I have seen reports written where statements entirely inconsistent with parties’ views have been put forward, that could readily have been challenged had a recording been available.

In the matter of  Mr. Mercutio noted above, for example, despite withdrawing from the case, the judge in the matter allowed an accompanying brief to be provided (alongside the two family reports) to a therapist whom the judge ordered to assist the children in grieving for the loss of that parent.

The brief was to provide a summary of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Mr. Tybalt’s reports.  I am advised that due to time constraints, it focused primarily on the second report, and was over sixty pages in length.

Valerie Cortes

Valerie Cortes

Online Legal Information Author at Family Law Express
Valerie is a Bachelor of Business Bachelor of Laws student at the University of Technology Sydney, majoring in International Business. Upon graduating, she plans to work in areas of family law and international human rights law, as well as an interest in international business law and commercial law. She volunteers as an interpreter for clients at a refugee case services.
Valerie Cortes
Categories: Dr Travis Gee, Family Report
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