The state of the art of psychological assessment in court-related settings (excluding personnel questions and personal injury cases) is reviewed. For optimal effectiveness of psychological assessments in the courts, it is recommended that instruments be developed that are specific to each particular topic and be used within an overall psychological assessment framework, with less reliance on traditional psychological assessment tools. The assessment of competency to stand trial is potentially amenable to such an approach, as is, to a lesser degree, violent behavior, at least for some persons in some situations. Certain aspects of child custody situations may also be amenable to the development and use of problem-specific assessment devices. This approach appears to have less promise in assessments related to insanity and homicide. The assessment of task-taking defensiveness is particularly important in forensic settings, but it is in need of much research and development.
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