Meet a Board Certified Psychologist

Evan B. Freedman, Ph.D. ABPP

 

Q. What is your practice like?

I practice forensic psychology in Bellingham, Washington a town of about 80,000 people. My forensic practice evolved out of my clinical work with children and families with a particular interest in neurodevelopment disorders and severe pediatric mental illness. My practice has focused on forensic evaluations for family law matters including assessment of parental capacity and custody. I have also performed adult and juvenile risk assessments for schools and correctional facilities. As I pursued forensic training over the last 15 years I have expanded my practice into areas where there is demand and where I have been able to attain sufficient competence through training and consultation. The diversity in my practice has been motivated to some degree by the size of Bellingham and the limited pool of forensic psychological work. The case variety also keeps things interesting and allows me to consult with different attorneys, agencies and intuitions.

As my practice has matured I have been sought out for consultation on a wide variety of cases which cross over into my areas of experience including personal injury cases and fitness for duty evaluations. Because Bellingham is very near the US/Canada border there is a call for immigration related evaluations which I have enjoyed. As the population ages there is a growing need for guardianship evaluations. The difficulty of the State Hospital to efficiently evaluate mentally ill detainees charged with criminal offences has created an opportunity to assist with trial competency evaluations. This has led to criminal work involving evaluations for sentence mitigation and diminished capacity.

 

 Q.  What motivated you to seek board certification?

I set a high standard for my professional work. I want to be perceived as a “thought leader” in my field and community. Several years ago, I spent two days on the stand testifying in a particularly complex parental capacity case. During the course of testimony and my consultation with the Assistant Attorney General with whom I was working, I realized that I needed a higher level of training to be of better service to the trier of fact AND the children the court was trying to protect. I also found that I enjoyed the process of working with attorneys and legal issues and wanted to learn more about the relationship between psychology and the law. The clearest path I could see was the Forensic Board Certification process. I also hoped that the experience and credentialing would help me to branch out into more complex and interesting forensic work.

 

 Q.  What was the most challenging and/or surprising aspect of the board certification process?

The process requires a willingness to seek out study materials and design a study plan which will meet each candidate’s specific needs. I sometimes felt overwhelmed with the breadth of knowledge I needed to absorb. An unanticipated bonus of the process was the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most prominent forensic psychologists. Other Board Certified folks have made themselves available for consultation which has been an invaluable asset to my practice. I feel so fortunate to have these contacts who can provide guidance through the inevitably difficult questions posed by this work.

 

 Q.  What advice would you give a candidate for board certification?

Find a suitable Board Certified mentor! It is important to find someone who is experienced in your specific field and has relatively recent experience with the Board Certification process. For the purposes of preparing written samples and the oral exam it is helpful to narrow your forensic interests. In this way it is possible to establish more discrete parameters around the information required to study.  Also, I found it helpful to make a budget for the process including the costs of continuing education, testing, travel, study materials and consultation. The budget is useful when determining how to schedule each phase of the process.

 

Jennifer S. Yeaw, PSY.D., ABPP
Forensic Psychologist
Center for Forensic Behavioral Science
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

 

Q. What is your practice like?
My clients are all affiliated with the military.  I work at the Center for Forensic Behavioral Science, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Military attorneys stationed all over the world reach out to us when behavioral health concerns arise with their cases.  Most of our work involves consulting on criminal cases being prosecuted under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.  I travel often to evaluate military members facing prosecution and to consult with military attorneys during courts-martial.  I also do a range of civil and administrative evaluations, and consult on policy questions pertaining to forensic psychology.

Walter Reed is a major teaching hospital, and training is a fundamental part of my day to day practice.   We have two postdoctoral fellowship programs, forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry.  Walter Reed has the only APA accredited post-doctoral fellowship in Forensic Psychology, and I am a primary fellow supervisor. The general psychiatry and psychology residents learn forensic evaluation on our service, and I am the rotation director for the psychology residents.  I have a fellow or resident working with me on most of my cases.

Q.  What motivated you to seek board certification?
At Walter Reed, all members of the medical staff, especially faculty, are expected to pursue board certification.  Fortunately for me, the expectation also came with generous support and mentorship from my colleagues.  Also, I was unable to pursue a forensic fellowship myself because of family obligations.  For me, certification was a way to solidify my training and demonstrate my competence.

Q.  What was the most challenging and/or surprising aspect of the board certification process?
Definitely, the time commitment is a challenge.  The study and preparation is manageable if you can work it into your regular professional activities, but the process takes long time.  It took me almost 3 years from start to finish, and a lot of life happens during that time.  It takes commitment to stick with it.

Q.  What advice would you give a candidate for board certification?
Get a study partner to prepare for the written exam.  Find a mentor!  Have a forensic psychologist you trust give you feedback on a few reports before you prepare your work samples.  Lastly, spend some time thinking about what methodology you use and why.  Challenging the assumptions underlying your own procedures will improve your practice and get you ready for the oral exam.

 

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