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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2009-07-06

What is the differance???

Hi CS

What is the differance between a clinical psychologist, forensic psychologist and a psychotherapist.
Who can write reports for the court? Will the court accept reports from the others?
What are the steps to take should the tharapist be unethical and unproffesional.

many Thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Esih, but this questions turns up every few months, and you;ll find some of my previous responses by searching the archives of this forum. Briefly --- a psychiatrist is a fully trained medical doctor who then specializes in psych problems and ways to help them. A Psychologts has no medical training, but takes a basic degree in Psychology ( the broad field of how minds work ) and then further special training in applying that knowledge in specific fields of activity. A Clinical psychologist has been trained in dealing with pych problems and disorders, in assessing them, making diagnoses and treating them, but can only treat them by talking therapies ( like CBT ) and can't prescribe drugs, which a psychiatrist is also able to do. A Forensic Psychologist is not really, here in SA, a separate special qualification, but is generally a clinical psychologist with a special interest in forensive / legal issues, and experience in assessing people in that context and writing reports for the court, etc.
A psychotherapist is someone, who might be a qualified psychologist or even a psychiatrist, who has specialized entirely in providing therapy by talking methods.
Depending on the issues in a court case, any form of expert can write a report for the court --- being an Expert Witness needs you to have specific expertise and qualifications recognized by your profession, to be able to testify not only onm matters of FACT ( which anyone can ) but also to give informed expert OPINIONS on the facts of the case ( which nobody but an expert is allowed to do in court ).
If the case was about your falling off a bicycle, a doctor or surgeon might be ablem to give expert testimony that your injuries are typical of those received in such an accident, and how they would best be treated, and whether they would be expected to cause lasting problems. Maybe a manufacturer or retailer of Bicycles could ( not easy to pull off, but possible ) evidence about whether there are defects in how your bicycle was made that could lead to it behaving as it did, and thus might have caused the accident.
Now, a shrink of any variety, or a therapist could indeed act unethically in any of a variety of ways. Leaving aside actions that would be criminal or actionable whoever did them, they might have behaved in ways that are not criminal, but are contrary to the usual ethical standards of their profession. If so ( and this can be difficult to judge ) one would need a legal opinion as to whether it would be worth taking action The Law doesn't really deal with ethical issues, so this would be done by complaining to the Healh Professions Council, which would examine the complaint ( and it may be difficult to get evidence of what actually happened ) and then decide whether there is a clear enough case to proceed to a formal hearing. Its possible someone at the HPC could advice you as to whether such a case might be worth proceeding with.

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