Psychology Orlando

Psychological Affiliates Inc delivers Orlando patients state of the art Psychologists services. Our experts specialize in Family Counseling, Psychology and Collaborative Divorce Psychology.

Your Mental Health Professional: Roles

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There are multiple roles for mental health professionals. They include psychotherapists, Guardian-ad-Litem (GAL), social investigators/parenting plan evaluators, Parenting Coordinators, trial consultants, work product review experts, and educational experts. Each of these roles will be briefly reviewed.  Psychotherapists provide essential services to families as they navigate the emotional stages associated with the dissolution of their family. Psychotherapists differ in their skills and knowledge of family law. It is important to select a psychotherapist based on their knowledge and experience in a particular case. There is debate whether there is compatibility of therapeutic and forensic roles. An argument provided in S.A. Greenberg and D.W. Shuman (1997) says that therapists violate ethics when they provide expert forensic testimony citing “irreconcilable conflict between these roles.” In contrast, Heltzel concludes there are clear challenges; however, she opines that the roles of therapists and expert witnesses are indeed comparable.

The purpose of Parenting Coordination is to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process.  The Parenting Coordinator (PC) can assist the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan, offer education, make recommendations, and with prior approval of the parents and court, make limited decisions within the scope of the court’s order on referral (for more information, click here). Parenting Coordinators shall be licensed under Chapter 490 and 491 or a physician licensed under 458, be certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Family Law mediator with at least a Master’s degree in a mental health field, or be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar. The statute requires the professional be three years post-licensing and attend a twenty-four hour parenting coordination training. Confidentiality of communication is identified and states that the Parenting Coordinator may not testify or offer evidence about communications made by, between, or among the parties and the Parenting Coordinator during Parenting Coordination sessions (61.125(7)) with seven exceptions.

Guardian-ad-Litems (GALs) are often appointed to investigate allegation in the pleading effecting the child and include interviews of child, various witnesses, and other persons having information concerning the welfare of the child. The GAL has the ability to request the court order expert examinations of the child, child’s parents, and other parties in the action. That order can include examination by medical doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. According to 61.404, “the GAL shall maintain as confidential all information and documents received by any source, except at the GAL’s discretion, or by report offered to the court, or as directed by the court.”

As discussed previously, social investigator/parenting plan evaluators are regulated by Florida Chapter 61.20 and the Family Rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, Florida psychologists are regulated by the Florida Administrative Code 64B19-18.007. The Administrative Code identifies the Requirements for Forensic Psychological Evaluations of Minors for the Purpose of Addressing Custody, Residence, or Visitation Disputes, Dissolution of Marriage, Support, or Timesharing Action. The Administrative rule states that “it is a conflict of interest to serve as a Guardian-ad-Litem, mediator, therapist, Parenting Coordinator, or to have treated anyone previously.” The Administrative Code also states that the Psychologist shall adhere to the American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings (July, 1994) version and the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (March 9, 1991) version. At minimum, the evaluation shall include an evaluation of both parents or legal guardian, including observation, test results, and impressions; evaluation of the children identified in the court order, including observations and, when appropriate, test results and impressions, the description of interactions between each parent or legal guardian and each child identified in the court order; gather collateral sources of information as needed; and request medical records as needed.

 

Written by Deborah O. Day, Psy.D.

 

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Your Mental Health Professional: Functions

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Parents have an important interest at stake in the outcome of forensic mental health evaluations. There are a range of functions for mental health professionals once a parenting plan evaluation has been completed. The attorney can confidentially retain a work product review expert to provide a critical analysis of a colleagues’ child custody evaluation/parenting plan assessment. This includes a critical reading of the evaluation report, the underlying documents relied on to render the report, and offer advisory feedback to the retaining attorney regarding the methods utilized to reach the conclusions. Ethical standards for work product reviews are set out in the American Psychological Association's (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists.

Attorneys may engage a consultant that provides support to the parent participating in the evaluation, which includes education about the nature and purpose of the assessment. The consultant usually performs this function before the evaluation takes place or while it is being conducted. Please note that education is not coaching and coaching has been identified as an inappropriate role for psychologists and mental health professionals. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Child Custody Consultant Task Force identified rehearsing the litigant’s responses to questions on standardized tests, coaching answers, encouraging a litigant to make temporary or insincere changes in behavior solely for strategic positive impression management reasons, or suggesting that a litigant withhold important information are unacceptable and unethical behaviors for a consultant. The consultant can speak with the attorney about the forensic mental health evaluation, review the quality of the assessment, and aid the attorney by providing direct or cross-examination questions of the evaluator. If the consultant meets with the party, in very rare cases would that consultant provide testimony. Because the consultant assists with the development of trial strategies, the consultant remains confidential and is not available for deposition or trial.

Occasionally, the attorney may seek an educational consultant. This psychologist or mental health professional is hired to provide the court education/limited information not directly about the person or family be evaluated. An example of hiring an educational consultant might be for the sole purpose of educating the court regarding the psychological theory/models utilized by professionals in relocation cases, child sexual abuse cases, or certain psychological conditions, specific psychological tests, or mental illness.

Remember, it is improper for experts to express an opinion about credibility of another expert or on the validity of another expert’s opinion. From the cases, experts can be asked how expert’s conclusion differs from other experts’ conclusion to show that the other expert failed to consider proper factors. Additionally, Florida Rules of Evidence 90.706 says that statements of facts or opinions on a subject may be used in cross-examination of an expert witness.

Most of the above identified issues, with the exception of the GAL and social investigator/parenting plan evaluator, will need the assistance of attorneys to develop their presentation to the court, which includes a review of their expert credentials, background, achievements, writings, and experience. The attorney should have their expert ready to discuss all the information and materials used to arrive at their opinions, and to feel comfortable that their opinions are based on a reasonable degree of psychological probability. Prepare your expert to explain and defend any assumptions made in arriving at the opinion and ensure that your expert understands the difference between advocating and defending their opinions.

 

Written by Deborah O. Day, Psy.D.

 

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Domestic Violence Against Women

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Did you know that 1 in 3 women in an emergency room is there because of domestic violence (DV)?  Or, women who have separated are 14 times more likely to report abuse?

Unfortunately, the prevalence of DV against women has remained stable over the last decade; however, familiarizing ourselves, and others, with the facts will only bring us closer to ending this pervasive issue. 

 

  • 73% of ER visits and 75 % of 911 calls occur post-separation
  • Battering contributes to 25% of suicide attempts
  • Rape occurs in 50% of violent relationships
  • 25-50% of all American women will be battered
  • 74% of the abused are harassed at work
  • 1 in 3 pregnant women are abused (this is the leading cause of birth defects and fetus death)
  • 50-70% of wife beaters are also child beaters
  • 25-33% of wife beaters are also child molesters
  • More than 3 million kids witness DV every year
  • 90% of men and 80% of women in prison were abused
  • 50% of homeless individuals are fleeing DV
  • Less than one percent of men prosecuted for DV serve any time
  •  

    If you would like to become active in the fight against DV, there are approximately 2,000 service programs, and 1,300 shelters, nationwide.

 

Provided by Robert Janner, Psy.D.

 

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Common Myths of Hypnosis

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

 

People often fear that being hypnotized will make them lose control, surrender their will, and result in their being dominated, but a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness.  Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts but fail to take into account that stage hypnotists screen their volunteers to select those who are cooperative, with possible exhibitionist tendencies, as well as responsive to hypnosis.  Stage acts help create a myth about hypnosis which discourages people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.

Another myth about hypnosis is that people lose consciousness and have amnesia.  A small percentage of subjects, who go into very deep levels of trance will fit this stereotype and have spontaneous amnesia.  The majority of people remember everything that occurs in hypnosis.  This is beneficial, because the most of what we want to accomplish in hypnosis may be done in a medium depth trance, where people tend to remember everything.

In hypnosis, the patient is not under the control of the hypnotherapist.  Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves.  A hypnotherapist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.

 

This information was taken from the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH).

 

Dr. Susan Spicer has been trained by the American Society for Clinical HypnosisHer work involves a combination of hypno- and cognitive therapy to treat an array of conditions and ailments. Clients report that hypnotherapy sessions are extremely relaxing and enjoyable, and that the therapy has long-lasting beneficial effects.

 

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Hoarding 101

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Thursday, March 07, 2013

While not a psychological diagnosis, hoarding is, at times, associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and/or depression.  In addition to the aforementioned, individuals holding high levels of perfectionism, or who have a family history of hoarding, tend to be more susceptible to this complex phenomenon.  Hoarders appear to have difficulties processing information, which manifests as problems in categorization, attention, decision-making, and memory. 

It is not uncommon for hoarders to form emotional attachments with, and assign human-like qualities to, their collected objects.  The mere presence of the hoarded objects may provide the individual with a sense of security.  As a result, the hoarder may become overtaken with grief when faced with the prospect of getting rid of these objects. 

Hoarders often hold erroneous beliefs about the necessity of not wasting, and hold an abnormal appreciation of the aesthetic beauty of objects.  These distorted beliefs are among treatment targets for cognitive therapy; however, behavioral interventions are also recommended.

 

Provided by Deborah O. Day, Psy.D.

 

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What is Clinical Hypnosis?

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Thursday, March 07, 2013

Clinical hypnosis is an altered state of awareness, perception or consciousness that is used, by licensed and trained doctors or masters prepared individuals, for treating a psychological or physical problem.  It is a highly relaxed state.

Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention.  It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful.  Similarly, when our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use our minds more powerfully.  Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.

While there is general agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, there are differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works.  Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc.  Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe there are strong cognitive and interpersonal components that affect an individual’s response to hypnotic environments and suggestions.

Recent research supports the view that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively changes aspects of the person’s physiological and neurological functions.

 

This information was taken from the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)

 

Dr. Susan Spicer has been trained by the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis.  Her work involves a combination of hypno- and cognitive therapy to treat an array of conditions and ailments.  Clients report that hypnotherapy sessions are extremely relaxing and enjoyable, and that the therapy has long-lasting beneficial effects.

 

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Hypnosis Misconceptions

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, March 05, 2013

While you are in a hypnotic state, you will not become unconscious and you will be aware of everything at all times.  Your will is not weakened in any way.  You are in control and cannot be made to do anything against your will.  You will not begin to reveal information you wish to keep secret.  Hypnosis is not sleep.

One common misconception is that a hypnotized person loses their will and is partially or completely under the command of the hypnotherapist.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This unfortunate belief is reinforced by many stage hypnotists.  You are in control of yourself, and cannot be made to do anything that is against your will.

Hypnosis, particularly the deeper forms, can appear to be like sleep because the person’s body is typically very still and quiet.  There is usually a great deal of mental activity, and measurements of brain activity during hypnosis show a significant level of neurological activity.

Hypnotherapy is widely recognized to be effective in the treatment of a number of disorders.  Endorsed by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, hypnotherapy has been successfully used to treat psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, as well as physical conditions such as insomnia, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, and asthma.  It has been successfully utilized to reduce pain associated with migraines, arthritis, and child birth.

 

This information was taken from the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)

 

Dr. Susan Spicer has been trained by the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. Her work involves a combination of hypno- and cognitive therapy to treat an array of conditions and ailments. Clients report that hypnotherapy sessions are extremely relaxing and enjoyable, and that the therapy has long-lasting beneficial effects.

 

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Age-Appropriate Sex Information

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How do I talk to my child/teen about sex? 

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States can provide guidance to parents who want to give their children accurate, age-appropriate information.

 

Provided by Alan Grieco, Ph.D.

 

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Child Sex Abuse Decline

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good news:  Rates of child sexual abuse have declined dramatically, dropping over 60% from 1992-2010, along with declines in most other crime types, according to the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN).  The drop is impressive since the willingness of survivors to report sexual abuse has increased.  The reasons for the declining rates may include greater public awareness, enhanced prevention and policing, better education and training, and the deterrence afforded by prosecutions and community supervision.  Bucking this favorable trend, however, are the rates for prosecution for child pornography offenses, which continue to increase markedly.

 

Provided by Alan Grieco, Ph.D. 

 

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Your Well Being and Satisfaction

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Want to gain insight into your overall levels of happiness, compassion, optimism, or forgiveness?

Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, offers a variety of questionnaires to measure character traits related to contentment. Take these surveys and find out other information about general well being and satisfaction at www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu

 

Provided by Alan Grieco, Ph.D.

 

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