How Do I Locate and Select a Forensic Neuropsychologist in Charlotte, NC or Anywhere Else?
The selection of a forensic neuropsychologist for an independent medical evaluation (IME) in neuropsychology begins with the forensic neuropsychologist’s credentials. Board certification in clinical neuropsychology is particularly critical, because this provides an indicator that that expert evaluator has undergone a rigorous peer review process and has probably remained up-to-date on the latest research on traumatic brain injury and other pertinent neuropsychology issues as they applies to the legal setting. You can locate a board certified individual at the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology’s website https://www.theaacn.org/. It may also be beneficial to consider individuals who are board certified in forensic psychology (American Academy of Forensic Psychology; http://aafp.abfp.com/diplomate_directory.asp), although just because an individual is boarded in forensic psychology does not mean that person has remained current with the neuropsychology literature. Likewise, individuals who are board certified in clinical neuropsychology should have experience functioning in forensic contexts and relevant continuing education in forensic neuropsychology. There are few individuals who are dual boarded in both clinical neuropsychology and forensic psychology, but this would be an optimal consideration.
I would encourage you to retain forensic neuropsychologists who are board certified. Board certification differs from licensure, in that licensure, while important, does not indicate that a person is competent in a particular professional niche or specialty area, particularly in a highly specialized area such as forensic neuropsychology. A google search or paid listing such as on jurispro.com may provide any number of individuals who claim to be neuropsychologists but whose credentials are self-reported and not necessarily verified and approved through peer review. Please be an informed consumer and do your due diligence by using the board directory as resources. At the same time, there are some individuals who have been in practice for a number of years who have not sought board certification but whose work may meet standards for excellence. It would be important to understand the rationale for not pursuing board certification and ongoing continuing education that has been obtained. In the future, those who are board certified will participate in a maintenance of credentials process at regular intervals and this could also be queried. Bottom line: if you limit the scope of your search for a forensic neuropsychologist to googling paid listings where forensic neuropsychologists can list themselves (such as http://www.jurispro.com/category/neuropsychology-s-479/), you will only get a very limited picture of what your options are. Most of the forensic neuropsychologists I have known are not listed on this website; they generate sufficient referrals otherwise. Why would most forensic neuropsychologists not list themselves on this website, and what does this suggest?
Grisso (2010) published recommended standards for reports that become the “product” that forensic neuropsychologist evaluators produce (http://www.abpp.org/files/page-specific/3356%20Forensic/21_–Guidance%20for%20Improving%20Forensic%20Reports.pdf). These standards should be reflected in the work of competent forensic neuropsychologists (i.e., the report). You will know a competent forensic neuropsychologist when you see opinions which are supported by sufficient explanations generated by data discussed in the report, discussion of alternative explanations and reasoning articulating why these hypotheses are not supported, citation of the legal purpose for the evaluation, solid organization, relevancy of information included in the report, and reliance on multiple sources of information, as suggested by Grisso (201).
Forensic neuropsychologists operate both in private practice and in medical center settings within North Carolina. In North Carolina, forensic neuropsychologists appear to be concentrated in Charlotte and the Raleigh-Durham area, with some forensic neuropsychologists located nearby Wilmington, NC, Winston-Salem, NC, and Asheville, NC. In some cases, forensic neuropsychologists may be able to travel to your location, or you may find that it makes more sense financially to pay for some regional travel so that your client can be better served.
In terms of identifying a forensic neuropsychologist, it is recommended that you have an initial conversation with the neuropsychologist where that neuropsychologist can give you a sense for “given what you’re telling me, this is what I suspect I’d say…” Forensic neuropsychologists cannot be paid for opinions or be expected to change their opinion or support the position for which you are advocating simply because they are being compensated. Forensic neuropsychologists must adhere to ethical standards (ethical principles and code of conduct available at the American Psychological Association, available at http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/) and in so doing provide an objective, unbiased opinion irrespective of the side on which they are retained; thus, it is important to obtain a preliminary sense for their opionions in the initial consultation between forensic neuropsychologist and attorney.
About the author. Dr. Messler is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist and licensed psychologist who has provided thousands of evaluations where the question of traumatic brain injury was raised. She has also served as expert consultant and witness. She believes it is critical to provide an objective, scientifically defensible opinion, and to help the jury and court understand the implications of the neuropsychological aspects of cases before them.