May I call myself a forensic psychiatrist or psychologist if I’m not Board-Certified in the subspecialties of Forensic Psychiatry or Forensic Psychology?

Adjectives are up for grabs, lying is not. Lying is a strong word; I include misleading statements, implying by omission you have credentials you do not. Your credentials and experience are the measure of what you are/do and should standalone.

Many psychiatrists and psychologists are self-titled as “Forensic Psychiatrist” and “Forensic Psychologist,” who are not Board-Certified as such. Similarly, many are qualified by experience, training and expertise to render forensic opinions. Of course, you must be Board-certified in your primary specialty, Psychiatry or Psychology, if you are rendering psychiatric or psychological opinions, as a matter of professional ethics.

I know of no official threshold for a psychiatrist or psychologist to hang a shingle as a Forensic expert in their field.  I am not an attorney or a doctor.

As I state here and in the FAQ “Do I have to be Board-Certified in Forensic Psychiatry…” if you are not Board Certified in the subspecialty of Forensic Psychology or Psychiatry, you should never imply you are, including by omission. Again, your qualifications stand on their own. I am trying to hammer this home for obvious reasons.

States vary on licensing requirements, use of terms like “Doctor,” descriptions of qualifying experts in a given field and other distinctions.  In one state you must be licensed to practice medicine in that state to render a medical-legal opinion in court. In other states you do not.  If you are being retained for a case in a state where the rules are unfamiliar to you, common sense dictates you become informed, and work closely with the attorney retaining you before moving too far into the case.

Note that whatever you call yourself, you will likely be scrutinized by attorneys seeking to retain you, unsure how concerned they should be that you are not Board-Certified in the Forensic subspecialty.  Your qualifications, Board-Certification in general Psychiatry or Psychology, experience and training are relevant.

It would be naive not to expect opposing counsel will minimize the reliability of your opinions if you are not Board-Certified in Forensic Psychiatry or Forensic Psychology.

In other words, not being Board-Certified in your forensic subspecialty is not a deal killer, but you should prepare to answer questions about it.

In the interests of making a full disclosure to your potential clients, I would recommend you address this on your website. Your website is your best forum to explain your relevant forensic experience, Board-Certification in the subspecialty notwithstanding.

Other mental health professionals also render forensic opinion about mental health matters. For example, forensic opinion and testimony has been given by a Licensed Social Worker (LCSW) in a number of cases familiar to me.  Presumably, those opinions fall within the scope of an LCSW’s training.

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