The following are resources I have found useful in my own practice and in training other clinicians to perform forensic evaluations. Please feel to write me at if you would like additional information about specific topics in psychiatry or forensic psychiatry, and I will try to provide you with additional key references.

Forensic Organizations Fitness to Stand Trial
Forensic Training Involuntary Treatment
The Legal System Risk Assessment
Independent Medical Examinations Sex Offending
Psychiatry Malingering
General Forensic Mental Health Resources Mental Disability and Injury
Being an Expert Witness Competency and Guardianship
Ethics Child and Family
Criminal Responsibility Templates


Beware of unaccredited organizations that provide certification of no value for a fee.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS): a multidisciplinary and international organization that provides a fascinating annual conference. The organization has divisions for pathologists and other physicians, attorneys, behavioral scientists, dentists, toxicologists, physical anthropologists, document examiners, physicists, engineers, criminalists, educators, and others.

American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL): the forensic branch of the American Psychiatric Association. Publishes a journal and provides an excellent annual conference and board-review course.

American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP): the forensic branch of the American Psychological Association, focusing on education.

American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP): the accrediting arm of the AAFP, which provides information about training and certification for forensic psychologists.

American Psychology-Law Society (APLS): an interdisciplinary division of the American Psychological Association devoted to scholarship, practice, and public service in psychology and law.

International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH): an international, multidisciplinary organization.

European Association of Psychology and the Law (EAPL): a European, multidisciplinary organization.

Australia and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL): a multidisciplinary organization Down Under.

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Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Programs: A list of the fellowship training programs in the United States and Canada, provided by AAPL. Fellowship training is one of the requirements for certification in forensic psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Forensic Psychology Internship Programs: A list of pre-doctoral internship training programs in the United States and Canada, provided by AAFP.

Forensic Psychiatry Core Competencies: A list of skill sets to be mastered by forensic psychiatry trainees, keyed to post-graduate accreditation requirements, and provided by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to help applicants prepare for board examination.

Landmark Cases List: United States Supreme Court cases and landmark cases from other jurisdictions pertinent to the practice of forensic psychiatry, provided by AAPL. Be sure to check the additions and deletions page. The AAPL Journal also provides a “Legal Digest” section at the end of each issue, with case law developments around the country.

Landmark Cases Flashcards: prepared by NYU forensic fellows, an excellent study tool for board certification.

Forensic Psychology Reading List: A comprehensive list provided by the ABFP, to help forensic psychologists prepare for certification.

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Introduction to Law and the Legal System, F. Schubert: an undergraduate-level introduction to law.

FindLaw: browse state and federal cases and constitutions.

Black’s Law Dictionary: the gold standard reference for legal terminology.

Mental Disability Law, 2nd ed., M. Perlin: the comprehensive reference for attorneys and law students, written by a law professor and advocate for the mentally ill.

Almost a Revolution, P. Appelbaum: a beautiful account of the evolution of mental health law over the last 50 years, revealing the legal principles underlying our practice. Written by the former president of both the APA and AAPL.

“An Overview of the Legal System,” Melton, Chapter 2

“Basic Issues in Law,” Rosner, Part 8

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Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th ed., G. Anderson and L. Cocchiarella: the widely accepted AMA reference for physicians conducting disability evaluations. A 6th edition is also available, but many jurisdictions still refer to the 5th.

The Guides Newsletter: articles on select disability topics published every two months by the AMA.

International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF): the World Health Organization’s framework for measuring health and disability at the individual and population level, endorsed by all WHO member states.

Download Forensic Medical Report Writing Tips (PDF 70 KB)

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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV-TR): The American Psychiatric Association’s consensus “Bible” of mental disorders, with required criteria and descriptions for each illness.

Fifty Signs of Mental Illness, J. Hicks: an award-winning layperson’s guide to mental illness, organized by the presenting signs and symptoms and with reference to all of the possible disorders and their treatments.

Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 9th ed., H. Kaplan and B. Sadock: the gold standard twenty-pound textbook, in two volumes.

Kaplan and Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 3rd ed.: a more concise version, which is still quite comprehensive.

The Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th ed., M. Gelder, P. Cowen, and P. Harrison: an alternative, concise but comprehensive textbook, with a more British perspective.

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Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, 2nd ed., Edited by R. Rosner: the comprehensive textbook for forensic psychiatrists, with numerous chapters by experts in the field, most of whom are psychiatrists. Includes summaries of all of the landmark cases.

Psychological Evaluations for the Court, 3rd ed., G. Melton, J. Petrila, N Poythress, and C Slobogin: the best, comprehensive textbook for forensic psychologists, and an extremely useful resource for psychiatrists and attorneys as well. Co-edited by psychologists and attorneys. Includes dozens of sample reports for different legal issues.

Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law, 4th ed., P. Appelbaum and T. Gutheil: a text focusing on legal issues that arise in psychiatric practice, popular with residents.

Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry, R. Simon and L. Gold: the forensic textbook produced by the publishing arm of the American Psychiatric Association.

The Handbook of Forensic Psychology, 2nd ed., A. Hess and I. Weiner: a good supplement to Melton, with a more narrative approach, but less current.

Forensic Psychotherapy, edited by C. Cordess and M. Cox: a large and fascinating British textbook for clinicians working in forensic settings.

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The Psychiatrist in Court: A Survival Guide, T. Gutheil: a slim, practical introduction to forensic issues for general psychiatrists, including preparing for testimony and deposition.

The Psychiatrist as Expert Witness, 2nd ed., T. Gutheil: the popular companion book provides more concrete advice for practitioners entering the forensic arena, including ethical principles, common pitfalls, and billing.

Mastering Expert Testimony, W. Tsushima and R. Anderson: for mental health professionals, and full of examples and references to the literature on expert testimony.

“The Nature and Method of Forensic Assessment,” Chapter 3 in Melton

“Guidelines for Courtroom Testimony,” Chapter 5 in Rosner

“Psychological Assessment in Forensic Settings,” J. Ogloff and K Douglas, Chapter 15 in Assessment Psychology, edited by J. Graham and J. Naglieri

“Keeping Criticism at Bay: Suggestions for Forensic Psychiatry Experts,” A. Friend, JAAPL 31 (4) 2003

“Template for Quickly Creating Forensic Psychiatry Reports,” S. Berger, JAAPL 36 (3) 2008

Download Forensic Psychiatric Report Writing Tips (PDF 6384 KB)

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“The Principles of Medical Ethics with Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry,” American Psychiatric Association

“Ethics Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry,” AAPL, 2005

“Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct,” APA, American Psychologist 57 (2002)

“A Theory of Ethics for Forensic Psychiatry,” P. Appelbaum, JAAPL 25 (3) 1997

“Practicing Principled Forensic Psychology,” Chapter 24 in Hess and Weiner

“Ethnicity, Race, and Forensic Psychiatry: Are We Color-Blind?” J. Hicks, JAAPL 32 (1) 2004

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Conducting Insanity Evaluations, 2nd ed., R. Rogers and D. Shuman: the most comprehensive book dedicated to the assessment of insanity and other mental illness defenses.

Retrospective Assessment of Mental States in Litigation, edited by R. Simon and D. Shuman: presents a number of topics by leaders in the field.

“Mental State at the Time of the Offense,” Chapter 8 in Melton

“Criminal Responsibility,” Chapter 25 in Rosner

“Specific Intent and Diminished Capacity,” Chapter 13 in Hess and Weiner

“Post-Conviction Dispositional Evaluations,” Chapter 27 in Rosner

“Sentencing,” Chapter 9 in Melton

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“AAPL Practice Guideline for the Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial,” D. Mossman et al. JAPPL 35 (4, Supp.) 2007

“Criminal Competence,” Chapter 24 in Rosner

“Competency to Stand Trial,” Chapter 6 in Melton

“Competence to Stand Trial,” Chapter 4 in Grisso

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“Hospitalization: Voluntary and Involuntary,” Chapter 14 in Rosner

“Treatment Refusal in Psychiatric Practice,” Chapter 17 in Rosner

“Competence to Consent to Treatment,” Chapter 9 in Grisso

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HCR-20: Assessing Risk for Violence, version 2, C. Webster, K. Douglas, D. Eaves, and S. Hart: an easy-to-use, structured risk assessment instrument comprising 10 historical, 5 current clinical, and 5 future-oriented contextual factors that help clinicians evaluate risk. Not a predictive instrument, but provides a valid structure for organizing and communicating risk assessments. The manual includes one page for each item that summarizes what we know about the risk factor.

“Empirical Support for the HCR-20: An Annotated Bibliography of the 20 Items,” L. Guy and C. Wilson

Violent Offenders: Appraising and Managing Risk, V. Quinsey, G. Harris, M. Rice, and C. Cormier: summarizes research in the field and risk management principles, with an emphasis on the authors’ own actuarial risk assessment instrument, the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG).

Handbook of Psychopathy, edited by C. Patrick: the most recent textbook discussing this variant of antisocial personality disorder, with chapters by experts in the area.

Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behaviors, edited by T. Millon, E. Simonsen, M. Birket-Smith, and R. Davis: an earlier volume with interesting chapters describing the history of the concept.

“Psychopathy: A Clinical and Forensic Overview,” R. Hare, Psych Clinics of N Am 29, 2006

“The Uncritical Acceptance of Risk Assessment in Forensic Practice,” R. Rogers, Law and Human Behav 24 (5) 2000

“Dangerousness Risk Assessments,” Chapter 8 in Hess and Weiner

“Stalking,” Chapter 76 in Rosner

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Evaluating Sex Offenders, D. Doren: a good summary of clinical and legal issues.

Sexual Deviance, 2nd ed., edited by D. Laws and W. O’Donohue: a clinical guide to DSM paraphilias addressing psychopathology, assessment, and treatment.

“Impulsive-Compulsive Sexual Behavior,” T. Mick and E. Hollander, CNS Spectrums 11, 2006

“Sexually Violent Predators in the Courtroom: Science on Trial,” R. Prentky, E. Janus, H. Barbaree, B. Schwartz, and M. Kafka, Psychol Pub Policy Law 12 (4) 2006

“Use of DSM Paraphilia Diagnoses in Sexually Violent Predator Commitment Cases,” M. First and R. Halon, JAAPL 36 (4) 2008

“Actuarial Assessment of Risk for Reoffense among Adult Sex Offenders,” Langton et al. Crim Just and Behav 34 (1) 2007

“The Characteristics of Persistent Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of Recidivism Studies,” R. Hanson and K. Morton-Bourgon, J of Consult and Clin Psychol 73 (6) 2005

“Are Sex Offenders Treatable?” L. Grossman, B. Martis, and C. Fichtner, Psychiatric Services 50 (3) 1999

“Treatment of Sex Offenders,” Chapter 73 in Rosner

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Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception, 3rd ed., edited by R. Rogers: the most comprehensive source of information regarding the principles of detecting malingering, including state-of-the-art research on malingering testing.

“The Detection of Malingered Psychosis,” P. Resnick, Psych Clinics of N Am 22, 1999

“Clinical and Conceptual Problems in the Attribution of Malingering in Forensic Evaluations,” S. Drob, K. Meehan, and S. Waxman, JAPPL 37 (1) 2009

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“AAPL Practice Guideline for the Forensic Evaluation of Psychiatric Disability,” JAPPL 36 (4, Supp.) 2008

“Psychiatric Disability Determinations and Personal Injury Litigation,” Chapter 29 in Rosner

“Compensating Mental Injuries,” Chapter 12 in Melton

“Personality Assessment in Personal Injury Litigation,” Chapter 5 in Hess and Weiner

“Trauma-Induced Psychiatric Disorders and Civil Law,” Chapter 32 in Rosner

“Sexual Harassment,” Chapter 31 in Rosner

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Evaluating Competencies, 2nd ed., T. Grisso: the most comprehensive discussion of criminal and civil competencies in various domains, including analyses of available testing instruments.

“Assessing Competency to Make a Will,” J. Spar and A. Garb, Am J Psych 149 (2) 1992

“Common Pitfalls in the Evaluation of Testamentary Capacity,” T. Gutheil, JAAPL 35 (4) 2007

“Guardianship,” in Chapter 11 in Melton

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“Family Law and Domestic Relations,” Part 5 of Rosner, including chapters on child custody, parental rights, child abuse, and juvenile delinquency.

“Children and Families,” Part IV of Melton, including chapters on juvenile delinquency, child abuse, child custody, and education.

Textbook of Adolescent Psychiatry, R. Rosner: provides information about adolescent psychiatry generally, as well as forensic issues.

“Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings,” APA, American Psychologist 49, 1994

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Medical Physicians

Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers

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