An Unforeseen Alliance: The Experience of Mental Health Professionals when Testifying in Sexual Assault Criminal Proceedings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Evidence and Proof
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • 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
  • Law

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