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What I Learned At The American Academy Of Psychiatry And Law’s Annual Conference

For new readers, it’s my tradition to put up posts summarizing tidbits I picked up at the annual American Academy of Psychiatry and Law (AAPL) conference. It’s random, it’s not explained in detail, but it’s stuff I thought was interesting.

The conference started out with a keynote speech by AAPL President Stephen Billick. The title of his talk was “Be True To Psychiatry.” His point was that forensic psychiatrists are clinicians first, and that even a forensic evaluation can have therapeutic effects. He cited many examples in his practice in which a criminal or civil evaluation had potential beneficial “side effects” regardless of the forensic opinion. His main point: the forensic psychiatrist’s obligation to be neutral and objective does not preclude kindness. A point well taken, and appreciated.

A session on suicide risk assessment gave a very nice illustration of the basic problem inherent in these assessments: even assuming an “ideal” case situation with a “perfect” psychiatrist, a thorough suicide risk assessment would take four hours. Risk assessment is time consuming and inherently will be incomplete. We make the best decisions we can based on the limited data we have at the time. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

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