Forensic and Psychological Assessment Clinic

Dessert Sage provides psychological assessments and forensic evaluations.

Psychological Assessment

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Evaluations (Child/Adult)

This evaluation entails the assessment of a client’s ADHD-related behaviors in determining whether he/she meets the detailed diagnostic criteria for ADHD and corresponding ADHD subtypes. A specific emphasis is also placed on determining whether the client meets the diagnostic criteria for comorbid diagnoses of Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. This evaluation also includes a general assessment of the client’s emotional functioning and personality.

Substance Use Disorder Evaluations

A psychological evaluation will identify dependency disorders, treatment recommendations, and treatment progress. They will include the defendant’s lifetime conviction history, relapse history, psychological assessments for substance abuse, lifetime treatment history for alcohol and/or drug abuse, support group history, clinical analysis and observations, diagnostic impressions, client prognosis, and continuum of care/recommendations.

Disability Evaluations

Those who file for Short Term Disability or Social Security Disability with an alleged mental condition (physical and mental impairments listed on disability applications are classified as “allegations” until the examiner has decided the claim) are often sent for a mental consultative examination (CE).

Mental consultations are like physical consultative exams in that they are used by disability examiners to help establish the claimant’s current medical state. Oftentimes, it is the case that those with mental disorders have received little if any medical treatment for their condition, so it’s difficult for a disability examiner to determine the nature and scope of the impairment and how it affects the claimant’s ability to work.

Neuropsychological Evaluations

Neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how one’s brain functions, which indirectly yields information about the structural and functional integrity of your brain. The neuropsychological evaluation involves an interview and the administration of tests. The tests are typically pencil and paper type tests. Some tasks might be self-reports meaning that they are completed by the patient with assistance from a technician, but the majority of the tests require administration by a neuropsychologist or trained, skilled psychometrist.

Neuropsychological tests (unlike bedside cognitive and behavioral neurologic screens) are standardized, meaning that they are given in the same manner to all patients and scored in a similar manner time after time. An individual’s scores on tests are interpreted by comparing their score to that of healthy individuals of a similar demographic background (i.e., of similar age, education, gender, and/or ethnic background) and to expected levels of functioning. In this way, a neuropsychologist can determine whether one’s performance on any given task represents a strength or weakness. Although individual scores are important, the neuropsychologist looks at all the data from the evaluation to determine a pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses and, in turn, to understand more about how the brain is functioning.

Neuropsychological tests evaluate functioning in a number of areas including intelligence, executive functions (such as planning, abstraction, conceptualization), attention, memory, language, perception, sensorimotor functions, motivation, mood state and emotion, quality of life, and personality styles. The areas addressed in an individual’s evaluation are determined by the referral question (what the referring doctor and patient wants to know), patient’s complaints and symptoms, and observations made during interview and test administration.

Dementia & Cognitive Evaluations

This evaluation entails the assessment of a client’s detailed cognitive and intellectual abilities, weaknesses, and strengths in order to determine the presence of dementia-related deficits. This evaluation also includes a general assessment of the client’s emotional functioning and personality.

Chronic Pain and Injury Related Evaluations

This evaluation entails the assessment of a client’s emotional functioning, personality, and behavioral functioning as related to his/her chronic pain issues. A specific emphasis is also placed on determining whether the client meets the detailed diagnostic criteria for a Somatization Disorder and other comorbid psychological disorders related to chronic pain issues.

Behavioral Medicine Evaluations

This evaluation entails the assessment of a client’s emotional functioning, personality, and health-related behaviors necessary in determining his/her level of appropriateness for surgical interventions or other medical procedures.

Forensic Assessment

Competency to Stand Trial

Competency to Stand Trial requires that a defendant understands the nature and purpose of the legal proceedings against him and be able to effectively cooperate with counsel in his defense. To understand the proceedings, a defendant must be able to comprehend the charges against him and the penalties if convicted. He must also have some level of understanding of courtroom procedure and the functions of those who participate in it. To cooperate with counsel, he must be able to plan a legal strategy, be able to recall and relate pertinent facts and events, including his motives and actions at the time of the offense, and be able to testify in his behalf and to challenge prosecution witnesses.

Psychological Evaluations of Juvenile Offenders

Psychological evaluations of juvenile offenders may be ordered by the court at the request of either the prosecution or the defense, or the defense may elect to have an evaluation completed for the court’s consideration in sentencing. In order to reduce recidivism and provide rehabilitation for juvenile offenders, our thorough psychological evaluations will uncover factors that will help the court to make decisions about the best interests of the juvenile. The report will present conclusions regarding psychological problems associated with the juvenile’s criminal activity, specific recommendations for treatment, and a prognosis regarding the likelihood of repeat offenses in the future, with and without treatment.

Evaluation of Juvenile Competency to Stand Trial

As with adult Competency Evaluations, we carefully assess the juvenile’s ability to understand how and why he or she is being charged, the various aspects of the courtroom process, his or her ability to cooperate with the attorney in an effective manner. Evaluations also include an assessment for feigning incompetence and assess if there any mental deficits or conditions that would prevent ability to understand the proceedings.

Sex Offender Evaluations

This evaluation entails the assessment of a client’s sexual offending history and readiness to change these behaviors. This evaluation also includes the assessment of the client’s general intellectual functioning, personality, and emotional functioning.

All sex offender evaluations or psychosexual evaluations include a detailed risk assessment that includes use of actuarial instruments (when appropriate) and other research-based risk and protective factors. Recidivism rates are not uniform across all sex offenders and once convicted, most sexual offenders are never re-convicted of another sexual offense. First time sex offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than are those with previous sexual convictions. In addition, for those sex offenders who have re-offended, the longer they remain in the community offense-free, the less likely they are to re-offend sexually (up to 50% for each 5-year period they remain offense free). Research has found that contemporary cognitive-behavioral treatment for sex offenders is associated with reductions in sexual offense recidivism rates from 10% to 17% after approximately 5 years of follow-up. Sexual offenders with a credible release plan are lower risk than sexual offenders without such a plan, and cooperation with supervision is a well-established factor that reduces risk (and non-compliance with supervision increases sexual re-offense risk).