Postdoctoral Fellowship Values and Principles
Values and Principles
The Mission of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program in Forensic Psychology is accomplished through professional modeling and didactic teaching of best ethical practices of forensic psychology. All training is based upon knowledge of the broad and developing science undergirding the field. The Postdoctoral Fellowship will provide education and training in the science and practice of Forensic Psychology that will be of sufficient breadth and depth to ensure advanced competency, technical expertise, and proficiency in the specialty practice area of forensic psychology.
The WRNMMC Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program in Forensic Psychology strives for excellence in the training, practice, and advancement of forensic psychology. To this end, the Fellowship adopts the Education and Training Guidelines for post-doctoral programs prepared by the Forensic Specialty Council in November, 2007 and adheres to the aspirations goals of the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (2013).
The Fellowship provides fellows with a foundational knowledge central to the application of psychology to the legal system. Fellows are provided an understanding of the foundations of the legal system, an understanding of basic legal principles relevant to forensic practice, an understanding of the differences between clinical assessment and forensic assessment, and an understanding of ethical issues in forensic contexts.
Substantive areas of forensic psychology covered by the fellowship include areas such as provision of therapeutic services to detained/incarcerated populations, criminal responsibility evaluations, competency to stand trial evaluations, competency to waive Miranda rights (UCMJ Article 31B), competency to participate in a Medical Evaluation Board, evaluation of fiduciary competency, evaluation of purported false confessions, violence risk assessments, spousal violence risk assessments, sexual violence risk assessments, assessment of child pornography offenders, sentencing/mitigation evaluations, psychological autopsies, fitness for duty evaluations, personnel selection for high risk occupations, command directed evaluations, assessment of response style, including malingering, assessment of the memory accuracy, and other evaluations. In addition, the Fellowship offers opportunities for fellows to provide forensic psychological consultation and expert witness testimony. Fellows also have the opportunity to conduct a forensic research project during their fellowship. Fellows will work with both military and non-military populations, including individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring mental retardation and/or substance abuse. The education and training activities are cumulative, graduated in complexity, and structured in terms of sequence, intensity, duration, and frequency.
The field of Forensic Psychology is cross-disciplinary by nature. Hence, fellows receive didactic trainings provided not only by forensic psychologists, but also have accessibility to training provided by forensic psychiatrists. WRNMMC has a well-developed and accredited Post-Doctoral Neuropsychology Fellowship, and a well-developed and longstanding Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship. Forensic Psychology Fellows will interact closely with Faculty and Fellows from the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship, while supervision will be performed primarily through the Faculty of the Forensic Psychology Fellowship. Since the winter of 2012, the Forensic Psychology Fellowship has been co-located with the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship in the Center for Forensic Behavioral Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
The science underlying the field of Forensic Psychology is rapidly developing and most advancement in the field is of modern design. In order to complement the Fellows’ understanding of the science of Forensic Psychology, examination of the history of the field is also included in didactic training. A full perspective on the history of this developing specialty area of professional psychology will assist Fellows in being aware of difficulties the field has encountered, which practitioners may still encounter. Additionally, the legal principles and landmark cases framing the work of forensic psychologists are taught in didactic training and referenced as they pertain to cases which the Fellows work on.
Additional specialized didactic training comes in the form of formal instruction through a law school. Fellows attend the 3-4 week, full-time residential coursework offered through The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School Officer’s Basic Course in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition, fellows have the opportunity to participate in the Intermediate Trial Advocacy Course at the JAG school.
The expected period of the fellowship extends over two years of full-time education and training. Training and program standards are designed to prepare Fellows to have a knowledge and experience base sufficient to sit for and successfully complete examinations for Board Certification in Forensic Psychology administered by the American Board of Forensic Psychology, which is a specialty board of the American Board of Professional Psychology.
At present, the Forensic Psychology Fellowship is located at 6000 MacArthur Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20816. Fellows have forensic practice opportunities at WRNMMC and worldwide expert consultancy opportunities throughout the military justice system. Consultancies are performed for all branches of the military service. In addition, Fellows have several elective rotation options, including placement at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit near Quantico, Virginia. A rotation involving personnel assessment for high-risk and sensitive security positions through the National Security Agency is available as an option as well for Fellows who wish to pursue and are able to attain a Top Secret Security Clearance. There is an additional rotation involving placement at the Criminal Investigative Division (CID), in Quantico, VA. This rotation involves consultation with law enforcement on investigation and apprehension of criminals including sex offenders and provides opportunities to perform psychological autopsies, indirect threat assessments, and fitness for duty evaluations. The Fellowship is currently actively exploring developing rotations at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, the maximum security forensic hospital for the state of Maryland and with the CIA.
Over the course of the program, the fellow will spend an average of no less than 20 hours per week delivering supervised forensic services and consultancies involving direct contact with service recipients, collection and interpretation of test and collateral sources of information, interaction with forensic consultants, or involvement in legal processes directly related to their forensic case work. There will be no less than an average of 4 hours per week in activities primarily of an educational (i.e., non-service delivery) nature, and no less than an average of 2 hours per week in research related activities. Time allocations for specific activities are appropriate to the individual fellow’s training needs.