Skip to content

Best Practices in Competency to Stand Trial

Presented By Patricia A. Zapf, PhD
Patricia A. Zapf, PhD

20 hours | 20 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Best Practices in the Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial is presented by Patricia A. Zapf, PhD. This badge-earning program can be shared digitally on platforms like LinkedIn or your resume and counts towards a certificate. Enroll in this program to earn credit towards Criminal Forensic Assessment Certificate and share your new digital credentials with prospective employers and colleagues.

One of the primary foundations of criminal law is that all defendants have a right to a fair trial. Towards this end, upwards of 60,000 evaluations of competency to stand trial are conducted annually in the USA. Research has shown that the opinion of the evaluator in these evaluations is accepted by the courts upwards of 95% of the time. Thus, it is imperative that these evaluations be conducted using best practices. Two important sources have recently been recognized as setting the foundation for best practices in competency evaluation. This program provides a strong foundation for any mental health professional involved in or wishing to become involved in the evaluation of adjudicative competence.

This program covers the legal foundations for adjudicative competence, including new developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky standard, as well as practical and theoretical issues in competency evaluation. Competency assessment instruments are reviewed in depth, as are report writing and expert testimony. The trainee is taken through the foundations for competency evaluation, the specific abilities to be evaluated, how to formulate a case conceptualization and ultimate opinion regarding a defendant’s adjudicative competence, and how to communicate opinions about competence in the written report and through expert testimony.

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Describe important legal cases that deal with issues relevant to the interpretation of adjudicative competence standards and statutes

Describe the developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky Standard

Describe the research on evaluations of adjudicative competence

Describe theoretical issues in competency evaluation

Describe the most recent clinical guidance on competency evaluation & best practices model

Describe the administration procedures for various competency assessment instruments

Describe the psychometric properties of CAIs

Describe the process for the case and opinion formulation

Describe the process of communicating opinions regarding criminal competence

Describe required, appropriate, and inappropriate report contents


Presented By

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD

Dr. Patricia A. Zapf, Ph.D. is Vice President for Continuing & Professional Studies at Palo Alto University (PAU). Prior to coming to PAU, she was a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY), for 16 years, during which time she was instru...


1. Foundational Aspects of Forensic Mental Health Assessment

2. Principles of FMHA

3. The Legal Context

4. Forensic Mental Health Concepts

5. Empirical Foundations and Limits

6. Preparation for the Evaluation

7. Competency Assessment Instruments

8. Three Competency Assessment Tools

9. Data Collection

10. Interpretation

Develop a Specialty Area of Practice

Transforming mental health professionals into experts

Expert Instructors

Professional training developed and delivered by the field's leading experts

CE Credit

Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

Convenience & Flexibility

Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!


Earn Certificates

This is badge-earning course, which means it will help you earn a certificate that can be showcased on digital platforms like Linkedin.