The forensic psychology postdoctoral fellowship, which falls under the umbrella of Emory’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Professional Psychology and Emory’s Psychiatry and Law Service, involves advanced training experiences in forensic assessment, intervention, and research. Two full-time positions are available each year, with start dates between July and September. The postdoctoral fellowship is funded by the Grady Health System, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and the Psychiatry and Law Service in the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The program trains both forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry fellows. Upon completion of the program, many of the fellows have taken positions with the forensic state hospitals in Georgia, forensic private practices, or federal positions across the country.
Specialized training in forensic psychology is provided in a variety of weekly activities and settings. Forensic psychology fellows spend approximately 30 hours per week in direct and indirect forensic clinical activities, approximately 2 hours per week in forensic research, and 3 to 6 hours per week in forensic didactics and seminars. Fellows also spend 1 hour per week in a professional development seminar with the Director of Postdoctoral Training, which includes supervision of the fellows’ supervision of other mental health practitioners. Fellows receive 2-5 hours per week of formal supervision by a licensed psychologist. The training program also meets the requirements of the state of Georgia for licensure as an independent psychologist.
All forensic psychology fellows are based primarily at the Fulton County Jail on the Fulton County Jail Competency Restoration Program and the Grady Psychiatry and Law Service. Fellows also spend 4-8 weeks on each minor rotation.
The Grady Psychiatry and Law Service is responsible for conducting court-ordered evaluations for competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility for the Fulton County courts. This is a contracted service through the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). Cases are assigned to forensic postdoctoral fellows and psychiatry fellows on a rotating basis and under the supervision of the Assistant Training Director for Forensic Psychology and the Director of the service. These evaluations are conducted as a “friend of the court” rather than as an expert retained by either the defense or the prosecution.
The Fulton County Jail Competency Restoration Program (FCJCRP) is a novel program in which selected defendants have their competency restored in the county jail rather than being transferred to the forensic unit of the state mental hospital. One advantage of this program is that defendants thought to be incompetent begin receiving services much more quickly than they would going through the routine process of multiple court hearings and transfers, and thus spend less time detained in jail or the hospital. Psychologists, through their education and training in assessment, psychotherapy, and research methods, training, are uniquely qualified to deliver competency restoration services in a forensic setting. Thus, the Fulton County Jail Competency Restoration Program provides a comprehensive array of services to best prepare forensic psychology post-doctoral fellows for a future career in forensics.
Fellows can obtain additional opportunities, depending on their interests. The amount of time and days spent on rotations vary.
Georgia Regional Hospital (GRH), a state mental hospital, provides both forensic inpatient and outpatient services. Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists provide evaluations and treatment for men and women who require an inpatient setting. Outpatient services are provided by a team of forensic psychologists, including pre- and post-trial evaluations for men, women, and adolescents. This rotation is one day per week for eight weeks. Fellows have the opportunity to conduct 90-day competency to stand trial and violence risk assessments. There is also the opportunity to conduct outpatient forensic evaluations with juveniles depending on the interest of the fellow.
One of the supervisors is a psychologist in private practice who has been practicing forensic psychology for over 10 years. As part of the fellowship, individuals have the opportunity to work with this supervisor on mitigation evaluations and competency and responsibility evaluations, most of which are federal cases.
Supervision is provided by a forensically trained psychologist who specializes in disability evaluations. Fellows observe and conduct compensation and pension evaluations with Veterans under supervision. The rotation is one-half day per week, for eight weeks.
Fellows have the opportunity to work with the clinic staff in conducting sex offender treatment and psychosexual evaluations. In addition, they learn about specific tests used in assessing sexual offenders
Fellows receive a minimum of two hours per week of supervision by a licensed forensic psychologist who is an expert in forensic and neuropsychology and is highly invested in training new professionals. Additional onsite supervision is provided by licensed psychologists with expertise in forensics while on rotations. In total, fellows receive 2-5 hours per week of supervision.
The main seminar is led by the service director and is approximately 2 ½ hours every Friday morning. The purpose of the seminar is to discuss ongoing cases and read and discuss relevant mental case law. These cases cover the recommended list provided by the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
Fellows participate in a 2 hour seminar with a supervisor in private practice twice per month. The seminar will focus on the rules, procedures, and techniques related to expert witness testimony, and the knowledge, administration, scoring, and interpretation of forensic psychological assessments. In addition, the supervisor provides live supervision with the fellows when providing expert testimony.
Fellows participate in an annual Mock Trial exercise at the Emory University Law School.
Fellows attend a weekly 1 hour seminar that focuses on issues of professional development, pathways and skills for career development, balancing personal and professional considerations, networking, preparing for licensure, ethical and legal guidelines and dilemmas, the future of psychology, and topics of general interest decided upon by the group. For 6 months of the year, this seminar focuses on supervision of supervision.
Postdoctoral fellows also participate in a job mentorship program, which has been extremely successful since its inception over 10 years ago. The goal of this program is to assign each fellow to 2 job mentors, forensic psychologists engaged in the career path of interest to the fellow. Fellows meet with these mentors monthly, and receive guidance throughout their job searches and help with networking.
Fellows attend the annual meeting of AAPL including a three day forensic review course and four day annual conference. An educational stipend is provided to cover all costs associated with attendance.
Fellows attend the three day annual Georgia training provided to state forensic examiners. An educational stipend is provided to cover costs associated with attendance.
Fellows attend a minimum of 10 Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds at Emory University School of Medicine. The program also offers the opportunity to attend an Expert Testimony course at the Emory University School of Law, which is meant to improve the fellows’ abilities when providing testimony in court.
Fellows spend approximately two hours per week on research. Fellows also present the findings at the annual AAPL conference.
The goal of the program is to prepare psychologists to function as specialists in the area of Forensic Psychology. Fellows learn the essential components of the American Psychological Association’s core competencies as related to forensic psychology. The following training goals of the program are consistent with recommendations made by the forensic division (division 41) of the American Psychological Association.
Fellows are formally evaluated by all supervisors at the 6 month mark and then again at the end of the fellowship. Fellows are also required to pass a written examination testing their knowledge of forensic psychology/psychiatry case law, court procedure, and forensic ethical guidelines.
Core Faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine:
Nadine Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Vice Chair, Chief Psychologist and Director of Postdoctoral Training
Glenn Egan, PhD, Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, Forensic Psychology Training
Peter Ash, M.D, Professor and Director, Psychiatry and Law Service
Adriana Flores, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Don Hughey, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Andrea G.L. Elkon, PhD, Assistant Professor
Glenn Egan, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Forensic Psychology Training