My office provides a number of Psychological services, including basic clinical services of individual and couples therapy in addition to post-traumatic stress interventions.
In addition, I also provide an array of Forensic services, including: Child Custody Evaluations; Examinations for the Courts regarding competence for trial; visitation and guardianship; and, Appeals of determination of "Not Qualified" for public safety positions (mostly police officers, correction officers, deputy sheriff, code enforcement and nuclear safety positions), .
My orientation is Cognitive-Behavioral, which means that my approach is a practical method of addressing the thoughts that peoplr have regarding thier current life circumstances and assiting them to reframe that which they can control, to deal with that which they cannot, and to modify their behaviors to more effectively sove the problems that life throws at us on a regular basis.
I work with individuals and couples, primarily, but have done family sessions as the need arises. My areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, mood disorders and abuse of substances.
For 17 years I had worked in the field of developmental disabilities, so I also have expertise in the treatment of persons on the autism spectrum, including Aspergers and Pervasive Developmental Disabilities.
Additionally, as the Coordinator of the Suffolk County Disaster Mental Health Response Team since 1992, I have had the experience of conducting literally hundreds of crisis counseling, psychological first aid and critical incident stress debriefings. Within the Long Island Region and State, I am considered to be a subject-matter expert in the organization of disaster mental health responses and clinical service delivery.
Appeals of Psychologically Not Qualified for Public Safety Positions
The determination of "Psychologically Not Qualified" for public safety position such a police officer, corrections officer, school crossing guard, nuclear plant tecnician or security officer is devastating for most persons. The most common question is "what is wrong with me?". This determination is based upon two factors:
- How will the individuals personality and coping skills be predicted to respond to the unique stressors and strains of the position in question?
- What effect will the stressors and strains of the position have upon the indivudual in question in terms of their ability to cope and function in that job environment?
- What background factors such as prior work experiences, substance abuse history, arrest history and general adjustment can be expected to mitigate the individuals adaptation to the paramilitary structures of each of these fields?
My office is among a minority of providers who conduct these evaluations as a multi-stage process, unlike many other providers who charge a single fee, regardless of whether the person stands a reasonable chance of overturning the initial determination. Stages One and Two are paid in advance by the candidate. Stage Three is an additional coast, based upon an hourly fee.
Stage One is an in-depth interview, followed by the completion by the applicant of a Background Information Questionnaire.
Stage Two is the administration of standardized personality assessment instruments such as the MMPI-2 and PEPQ, using public safety position norms.
Following the scoring of these instruments and assessment of the Background materials, the determination is made as to whether there exists sufficient evidence to present an appeal to the hiring agency that can reasonably be expected to overturn the initial determination.
Stage Three is the development of a report indicating those factors which are in despute and the rational as to why the initial determination should be overturned.
Child Custody and Parental Visitation Evaluations
Perhaps the most diffilcult situation for any parent, or clinician for that matter, is the need to assist the Court in making a determination regarding the parent who is the "psychological best fit" and will serve in the "best interests of the child" with respect to custody and visitation.
My office not only follows the guidelines of the American Psychological Association for the assessment of Child Cutody Evaluations, but goes beyond these standards to ensure a comprehensive and clinically fair assessment of all individuals involved. This evaluation consists of the following:
- Clinical interviews with each of the parents and significant care takers of the children.
- Clinical interviews with each child balanced by the presence of each parent.
- Psychometric assessment of each parent using the MMPI-2 and PEPQ and other instruments deemed necessary by the individual circumstances.
- Psychometric assessment of each child using the Bricklin Scales and other instruments deemed necessary by the individual circumstances.
- A comprehensive interview process with other systems of care to assess parenting skills (i.e, medical providers, medical specialists, other healthcare providers, school records and prior treatment records).
- In-Office observation of each parent with the children.
- Home visitations to observe the parents and children in their naturalistic setting.
No parent is perceived as a "black or white" good/bad parent according to the methodology used by my office, which is an adptation of the Multi-Method, Multi-Trait Matrix assessment methodology.
When individuals are charged with a crime, there does arise from time-to-time, a necessity to establish multiple forms of competency, which is defined as:
- Understanding of the charges that have lead to their arrest or indictment.
- Understanding of the roles and functions of each player in the criminal justice system (i.e., judge, district attorney, defence counsel).
- The ability to assist in the mounting of their own defense with counsel, such as repudiating statements made by others, questioning timelines and events; roles played by other individuals; and, other mitigating factors such as developmental disabilities or serious and persistent mental illness.
The assessment of individuals regarding competence to stand trial (C.P.L. 730.20) or mitigating factors that need to be considered in the development of the Presentencing Investigative Report (C.P.L. 730.90) is conducted by:
- In-depth clinical inverviews with the individual and significant others in the persons psychological environment (i.e., parents, spouse, siblings).
- Psychometic assessment using the MMPI-2, PEPQ, Hare and other standardized measures suc as the STATIC-99 for individuals charged with sex offences.
- Psychometric assessment of functional community behaviors in those instance where a developmental disability is suspected, such as the Vineland.
I am certified as a Court Evaluator, pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 to conduct functional assessments for the Surrogates Court to determine the needs of the individual with respect to Guardianship.
In addition, I am certified as a member of the Surrogate Decision Making Panel under Article 80 or the Mental Hygiene Law to assist in the determination of the need for medical treatments for persons who lack capacity to make medical treatment decisions that are essential, but not necessarily life threatening.