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by Robert H. Woody
by Robert H. Woody

Child Custody: Practice Standards, Ethical Issues & Legal Safeguards for Mental Health Professionals

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• 2000  160pp paperback   ISBN: 9781568870625

Essential reading for any mental health professional who is currently involved in custody cases as well as those who are considering work in the family law arena.  The author uses his unique perspective as both a psychologist and attorney to delineate standards for practice when providing services to children and families when there are custody disputes.  He describes the ethical issues, legal risks, and appropriate safeguards for providing services in child custody cases and defines the core areas for custody evaluations, including: child development, family relations, parenting skills, psychopathology, family systems and dysfunction, and the ruling-out of child abuse.  The author stresses the importance of clarifying professional roles and functions.  Specialized intervention and assessment strategies are presented as well as management issues, legal concerns, and guidelines for testimony. Includes over 100 valuable summary guidelines and caution.  This is also a valuable resource for judges and attorneys who must evaluate the extent to which testimony by mental health practitioners is ethical, appropriate, and consistent with accepted practice standards.  Also contains useful information for divorced and divorcing parents.


"A mini course on child custody for the mental health practitioner and for those who take graduate courses which involve ethical and legal aspects of practice within the context of child and family interventions.  Woody advocates an approach to this area which integrates a cognitive social learning approach with family systems approaches...  The book also provides a number of relevant guidelines that should be instructive for the mental health professional entering this arena.  For example, Woody suggests that practitioners should explore the topic of child abuse (cautiously but deliberately) in every child custody case.  He also indicates that comprehensive observations, interviewing, and site visits are the cornerstones of child custody evaluations and these can be buttressed by psychological assessment (testing).  The book provides very helpful information to the mental health professional with regard to being in a deposition, being on the witness stand, critiquing the testimony of colleagues, and becoming prepared for expert testimony.  Overall, I found this to be an exceptionally helpful manual which has both practical, scholarly, and theoretical foundations.  This book succeeds very well in dealing with the complex and contentious area of child custody testimony."
     -Norman Abeles, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director, Psychological Clinic, Michigan State University

"This is a well-written 'inspirational' work.  It provides the reader with the concerns and pitfalls associated with a managed care practice.  More importantly, however, it provides the reader with a needed sense of direction.  The sense of empowerment obtained from the book is just the 'shot in the arm' needed by those seeking to start and maintain thriving clinical practices."

     -Frank De Piano, PhD
, reviewing for
Journal of Psychotherapy in Independent Practice

Table of Contents
    Chapter 1:  Understanding the Effects of Divorce
    Chapter 2:  Constructing a Theoretical Framework
    Chapter 3:  Protecting the Children
    Chapter 4:  Entering the Legal Arena
    Chapter 5:  Determining Child Custody
    Chapter 6:  Establishing Role and Functions
    Chapter 7:  Managing Child Custody Cases
    Chapter 8:  Protecting Mental Health Information
    Chapter 9:  Testifying in Child Custody Cases
Subject Index

About the Author
Robert H. Woody, PhD, ABPP, ABFP, ABPH is a practicing attorney and psychologist, with membership in the bars and licensure as a psychologist in Nebraska, Michigan and Florida.  He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and holds a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology: ABPP, in Forensic Psychology: ABFP, and in Experimental Psychological Hypnosis: ABPH.  Dr. Woody has authored or edited 20 books and over 300 articles for professional journals.  He conducts seminars on risk management and avoiding malpractice in health care services for universities, professional organizations, hospitals, and clinics.

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