Family court specialist report writers; opinions and issues, K McCormick


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Family court specialist report writers; opinions and issues, K McCormick

  1. 1. Family Court Specialist Report Writers: Opinions and Issues Assessing the current practice of psychologists working in the Family Court
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Development of updated guidelines because: </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in legislation </li></ul><ul><li>New Practice Note </li></ul><ul><li>Case law (e.g., K v. K) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Purposes of Guidelines <ul><li>Standardize practice/minimal standards </li></ul><ul><li>Use in training and supervision </li></ul><ul><li>Assist in communications with other professional groups (e.g., Judges about briefs, LFC regarding “wishes of children”) </li></ul><ul><li>Set expectations of how we relate within our profession (e.g., critiques) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Process for Consultation <ul><li>Considered questionnaire, focus groups, but decided on interviews with a smaller group because: </li></ul><ul><li>Availability of summer studentship </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Desire to gain access to detailed reports </li></ul>
  5. 5. Aim <ul><li>To gather information and opinions from practicing Family Court report writers. </li></ul><ul><li>To use this information in the revision of the guidelines for specialist report writers of the New Zealand Family Courts. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Method <ul><li>Unstructured face-to-face and phone interviews were conducted with 14 experienced New Zealand report writers. </li></ul><ul><li>Writers were identified by Professor Fred Seymour and Dr Suzanne Blackwell. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Participants <ul><li>10 x female and 4 x male </li></ul><ul><li>11 clinical psychologists </li></ul><ul><li>2 educational psychologists </li></ul><ul><li>1 trained in educational psychology then re-trained in clinical psychology </li></ul><ul><li>From all over New Zealand, including Masterton, Auckland, Rotorua, Nelson, Wellington, Canterbury and Invercargill </li></ul><ul><li>Experience ranged from 3 to 28 years </li></ul>
  8. 8. Interview Schedule <ul><li>Questions covered: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Current practice, the Care of Children Act 2004 and use of the guidelines. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conducting interviews. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conducting observations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The court hearing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critiques (second opinions). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Payment issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Culture. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Data Analysis <ul><li>Notes were taken and typed immediately after each interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Data was merged into one document. </li></ul><ul><li>Data were coded on the computer using different colours to separate each point. </li></ul><ul><li>Common issues and opinions were identified. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Analysis of the Data <ul><li>Three broad areas were identified, each of which contained particular issues of concern for report writers. </li></ul><ul><li>These concerned: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions with the family. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions with the Family Court and related practitioners. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactions with other psychologists or professionals. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Interaction Issues of the interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions with the *Building rapport through interviews and Family. observations. </li></ul><ul><li>*Children’s wishes and rights. </li></ul><ul><li>*Collateral interviews: Importance of balance. </li></ul><ul><li>*Observations: Natural verses structured and psychometrics. </li></ul><ul><li>*Note taking: The juggling act. </li></ul><ul><li>*Cultural issues: the use of cultural advisors, interpreters and support during children’s interviews. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Interaction Issues of the interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions with the *Interactions with Lawyer for Child: Independence Courts. from and the need for some communication. </li></ul><ul><li>*The varying standards of briefs. </li></ul><ul><li>*Variations in report structure. </li></ul><ul><li>*Judges/courts role. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Interaction Issues of the interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions between *Growing a culture of respect between report Psychologists. writers. </li></ul><ul><li>*The positives and negatives of being critiqued. </li></ul><ul><li>*The education and mentoring of new report writers. </li></ul><ul><li>*Continued education and access to current literature. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Back to the guidelines <ul><li>The input of participants has given some useful indication of the practice of some practitioners, and of the issues of relevance to them </li></ul><ul><li>This in turn has informed the ambit and detail of the new guidelines both for Family Court assessments and critiques </li></ul><ul><li>These guidelines will be discussed in some detail in the Family Law Symposium tomorrow </li></ul>
  15. 15. Thank You