Seminars in Psychology

Psychology and the Law: What We Know and What We Know That Isn’t So

Presented By:

Dr. Gordon Cochrane, R. Psych. &
Mark J. Cochrane, Barrister & Solicitor.

This CLE seminar is accredited for six professional hours by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board.

Case law is used to make practical each of these seminar themes:

  • Psychological Assessments: Construct Validity & Test Validity
  • Research Design and Treatment Efficacy
  • The DSM-5 Personality Disorders
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the DSM-5
  • The Unreliability of Unverified Memory: Eye-Witness Testimony
  • The Mythology of Reliable Truth Assessment
  • Fringe Psychology
  • Performance Rehearsal

If the NYSCLEB credit hours are to be applied, we cannot deviate from the program outline. If local state or provincial credit hours are applied, we can adapt the content to accommodate specific interests.

Preparing your Psychology/Psychiatry Expert

Presented By:
Dr. Gordon Cochrane, R. Psych.

Law Society of B. C. Three CPD hours

This seminar covers, with specific examples of effective cross-examination approaches, the realms where most health professionals are vulnerable to cross-examinations conducted by well-informed litigators. These realms include:

  • Diagnoses conducted by under-qualified primary care health professionals.
  • DSM-5 diagnoses and the thin skull ruling.
  • Differing psychiatric IME diagnoses arising from semi-structured interviews with no standardized measures.
  • Damages and the unacceptability of the term, psychological treatment.
  • The issue of witness bias.
  • Recognizing psychological metaphors that do not represent definable constructs.
  • The many ways your witness can annoy the judge.

The Importance of Psychometric Validity in IME’s

Presented By:
Dr. Gordon Cochrane, R. Psych.

Law Society of B. C. Three CPD hours

This seminar provides the psychometric information and cross-examination strategies to effectively cross-examine the IME’s of psychiatrists who use the structured clinical interview and the IME’s of psychologists who employ psychological testing.

  • The structured clinical interview, which is based on DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, will be outlined and discussed.
  • When a structured clinical interview is actually semi-structured it often results in two or more psychiatrists giving differing diagnoses of the same person.
  • Psychometric validity problems are unavoidable when the structured or semi-structured interview is used and the resulting diagnoses, therapy recommendations and prognoses can be quite subjective. Targeted cross-examination strategies are discussed.
  • The seminar focus shifts to psychological testing and what constitutes psychometric validity, construct validity, content validity and responder validity. Participants learn how to determine if an assessment measure is psychometrically valid.
  • Psychologists often supplement their valid measures with invalid measures and then contaminate their diagnoses, recommendations and prognoses with these invalid findings.
  • As was the case with the psychiatric IME’s, a number of targeted cross-examination strategies are presented and discussed with the participants.

Assessing the Credibility of a Witness

Presented By:
Dr. Gordon Cochrane, R. Psych.

Law Society of B. C. Three CPD hours

This seminar addresses the durable misconception that witness credibility can be determined by the attribution of meaning to specific physiological, verbal and nonverbal cues.

  • Current and traditional research is supplemented with intriguing visual illustrations of purposeful and inadvertent nonverbal communications.
  • It is shown that whereas nonverbal communication is real and interesting, no reliable catalogue of meanings exists.
  • The multiple and potentially confounding variables that undermine the credibility of this pseudo-science are outlined.
  • Proponents of truth-assessment techniques use the same X means Y principle as is used for projective tests such as the Rorschach.
  • Without a standardizing base to confirm that any nonverbal or physiological X definitively means Y, you are forced to trust the truth-assessing expert.
  • It will be demonstrated why most judges will not admit this form of pseudo-evidence, especially if it is a jury trial.

Why Hypnosis-Induced Evidence Is Inadmissible in Court

Presented By:
Dr. Gordon Cochrane, R. Psych.

Law Society of B. C. Three CPD hours

Dr. Cochrane has taught the realities, mythologies and techniques of hypnosis to health professionals for thirty years and has twice been an expert witness on the unreliability of hypnosis-generated evidence. Whereas participants will find the hypnosis demonstrations intriguing and enjoyable, the issues of absorption, suggestion, perception, memory malleability and consequent inadmissibility are the real cornerstones of this seminar.

  • The seminar begins with a brief history of hypnosis and its enduring mythology followed by a summary of current hypnosis research.
  • Dr. Cochrane gives some simple demonstrations of hypnosis to illustrate the critical role of imagery-absorption in preparatory rehearsal activities for personally important undertakings such as trial-preparation.
  • The seminar focus now shifts to a review of the most recent research on the many factors that contribute to distortions of human perception and memory. Whereas most judges and lawyers appreciate that perception and memory are malleable entities and as such, cannot be exclusively relied upon in a forensic setting, they are usually less aware that in a state of absorption, direct and indirect suggestion, expectancy, meaning attribution and individual creativity can alter one’s memories and perceived realities.
  • The participants gain an informed appreciation of why hypnosis-induced evidence is rarely admissible in court and they are updated on human memory, perception, meaning-attribution and selective attending.

*Please Note:
The handout for each of these seminars is the applicable chapter from Dr. Cochrane’s e-book, Psychology & the Law: Hard Science Tools for Cross-Examining Soft Science Experts, Revised Edition, 2019.