Introduction: Court testimonies of mental health expert witnesses (MHEWs) received scholarly attention regarding paradigmatic differences, and ethical issues, neglecting the testimony experience. The study examines MHEWs’ testimony experience in sexual assault proceedings in Israel. Methods:16 interviews. MHEW were recruited using chain referral sampling. Interviews were analyzed based on the constructive dialectical model. Results: Three main themes were conceptualized: MHEWs’ initial image of the court, their perception of mental health and legal languages, and their perception of court conduct as a theatrical play. The themes address the experience of tension between law and mental health along with an unprecedented experience of congruence that emerges when: 1. MHEWs based their testimonies on evidence-based tests and therapeutic interventions which value objectivity, as opposed to focusing primarily on the subjective experience, accommodating the evidence-based legal debate; 2. When MHEWs and legal practitioners formed an interpersonal connection, in accordance with key relational therapeutic elements.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.
- behavioral science
- court testimony
- criminal proceedings
- mental health expert witnesses
- sexual assault
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law