Washington Square Institute
Training Institute


An Innovative Interdisciplinary Program for
Attorneys, Judges, and Mental Health Professionals

New Format: Candidates may register for one course at a time as well as continuing through the entire training program and receiving a certificate.

Fall Semester 2015-16 Course: Family Law and Family Forensics
Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D., Ellen Holtzman, J.D., Hon. Helen Sturm, and Invited Speakers

Topics and schedule:
Oct: 6: Introduction to Training Program and Introduction to Court Structure
Oct: 13: Rules of Evidence and Burden of Proof
Oct. 20: Best Interests of the Child
Oct. 27: Relocation - Judicial, Legal, and Mental Health Perspectives
Nov. 3: Attachment Theory: Consideration of the Attachment Capacities of Parents
Nov 17: The Psychopathology of Parenthood in Separation and Divorce
Nov. 24: Highlights of the Separation, Divorce, and Custody Literature, and How to Read and Understand Social Science Research
Dec. 1: Forensic Interviewing of the Family - Lincoln Hearing Conducted by the Judge and Interview of the Child by the Attorney for the Child
Dec. 8, 15, & 22: Family Forensic Evaluations - Interviews and Home Observations by the Forensic Expert
Jan. 5: Psychological Testing in Family Forensic Evaluations
Jan. 12: Forensic Expert Report Writing and Forensic Expert Testimony (Pt. 1)
Jan. 19: Forensic Expert Report Writing and Forensic Expert Testimony (Pt. 2)
Jan 26: Mock Trial

Fee: $1300

Admission requirements:
Social Workers: LCSW, LMSW, Ph.D., or DSW.
Mental Health Counselors: LMHC
Psychologists: Ph.D. or Psy.D. in clinical, school, or counseling psychology. Ph.D. or Psy.D. candidates with all course work completed in clinical, school, or counseling psychology are also encouraged to apply. However, certificates of completion for each course are only received upon the award of the Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree.
Psychiatrists: Completion of adult psychiatry residency or adult and child psychiatry residency requirements.
Attorneys and Judges: J.D. in law.

Certificate Program:

In some very important ways, Family Law is set apart from other areas of legal practice. First, it looks to the past, the present, and the future. The judge, the attorneys representing the parents, the attorney for the child, and the mental health forensic expert must possess a sophisticated skill set which includes both law and the social sciences ⁄ psychology in order to assess and respond to the legal and psychological needs of the separating ⁄ divorcing family now and in the future. Judicial decisions are made optimally in the bests interests of children and their families for many years to come. Secondly, it is often hard to separate out the legal issues from the psychological in Family Law. The courtroom becomes the stage for reenactment of the family drama, and all courtroom professionals require the tools to understand the irrationality, hurt, and revenge often associated with the breakup of the family.

The Family Law and Family Forensics Training Program at Washington Square Institute is the first and only program in the United States which offers an interdisciplinary and integrated training model in which lawyers, attorneys for children, judges and mental health professionals refine knowledge of their own discipline in relation to Family Law and also are introduced to the valuable perspectives of the other professionals involved in family law cases. For example, attorneys will learn to integrate sophisticated knowledge of child, adolescent, and adult development, and how to use the results of psychological testing in order to better strategize the presentation of their cases. Thus they will be able to examine and cross examine a forensic expert more effectively. Attorneys for children will learn about the emotional, social, and cognitive development of children and adolescents in order to interview, understand and represent their young clients. They will also refine their skills in dealing with the pressures and pulls from the parents of their clients. Judges will gain greater appreciation for developmental issues regarding the children and parents in the families that come before them; learn how to critique relevant social science / psychological research; and expand their knowledge of parental capacities and also deficiencies, such as mental or physical illness, trauma and drug / alcohol abuse. Mental health professionals, often coming into family forensics with considerable clinical experience, now have to shift gears from being an advocate to a neutral. Clinicians will refine their knowledge of diagnostic issues and learn about Family Law, how to gather data which address the questions raised by the Court, how to write a report that is based upon documentation and limited inference, and how to testify in the courtroom.

Professionals trained within this interdisciplinary model will be in a better position to effect a shift from adversarial to collaborative, keeping the focus on the important tasks at hand, which are to help distressed families and to focus on the best interests of children.

For further information, please contact:

Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D., Chair
Family Law and Family Forensics Training Program
Washington Square Institute

Call (212) 246-5506 or
Email: lindagunsberg@yahoo.com email

Washington Square Institute (WSI) is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. WSI maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

(Applications to become a Provider of CE units for Social Work and CLE for attorneys are presently pending)

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