Effective Expert Testimony for Forensic Evaluation

Effective Expert Testimony for Forensic Evaluation


10 Hours | 10 CEs (CEUs)

Program Description

This self-paced training program on Effective Expert Testimony for Forensic Evaluation is presented by Dr. Randy Otto.

It is devoted to expert testimony that mental health professionals provide in depositions, trials, and administrative hearings. As such, this program should be of interest to all mental health professionals who testify in legal proceedings regardless of their specialty area. The focus is on oral communication of one’s activities and opinions. Thus, the preparation of interrogatories, affidavits, and reports is not addressed. Reviewed are general principles of effective communication in legal proceedings, research examining effective communication in legal proceedings, research examining effective communication by expert witnesses, strategies, and skills to employ during direct- and cross-examination. Considerable use is made of case examples-using excerpts from trial and deposition transcripts-as well as video recordings of mental health professionals testifying.

The fee for this training program is $250 and includes all materials.

Intended Audience

This training program is relevant for professionals who want to obtain or strengthen skills in expert testimony; including those involved in civil and criminal forensic mental health assessment, forensic settings, human resources and community settings, and those who work at the intersection of clinical psychology and law. This training program is for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to:


  • Describe the components/qualities of effective testimony
  • Describe differences between testifying at depositions and at trial
  • Describe various aspects of experience (and inexperience) to communicate to the audience their expertise and credibility
  • Describe the rules of evidence that impact their sworn testimony during direct examination and cross examination
  • Describe and employ pre-testimony preparation strategies that will reduce anxiety
  • Describe an approach for effectively communicating their work and opinions to the legal decision-maker during direct examination
  • Describe effective responses to commonly-used cross-examination ploys.
  • About Dr. Randy Otto

    Dr. Randy Otto is a licensed psychologist and is board certified in clinical psychology and forensic psychology (ABPP). He has been a faculty member at the University of South Florida since 1989. Although his primary appointment is in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, he also teaches in the Departments of Psychology, Criminology, and Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling.

    Dr. Otto’s work focuses on the involvement of mental health professionals in the legal system. In 2007, he joined USF colleagues John Petrila and Norm Poythress as a contributor to the third edition of Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professional and Lawyers. In 2013, the Handbook of Forensic Psychology, which he edited with Irv Weiner, was published. In 2014, with Rick DeMier and Marc Boccaccini, he published a book on expert testimony and report writing, Forensic Reports and testimony: A Guide to Effective Communication for Psychologist and Psychiatrists.

    Dr. Otto has been on the editorial boards of a number of journals, and has served as President of the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Board of Forensic Psychology. He is current President of the American Board of Professional Psychology.

    Dr. Otto chaired the committee that revised the APA Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology and he also served on the American Bar Association Task Force that revised that organization’s Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and he has received awards for his professional contributions from the Society for Personality Assessment, the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, the New York State Psychological Association, and the University of California-San Francisco.

    When not at work or with his family, he is likely to be found on a motorcycle or at a casino (testing risk and probability theory).

    This course is designed for all mental health professionals who want to learn effective expert testimony skills. This course is an excellent means of strengthening skills related to expert testimony.


    Participants will learn about testimony at depositions, trials, and administrative hearings
    – Presenting Expert Findings and Opinions via Testimony
    – Effective Communication- The Four C’s
    – Credibility
    – Appearance and Presentation

    General Principles

    Participants will learn general principles of effective communication in legal proceedings & about research examining effective communication in legal proceedings
    – Depositions
    – Courtroom Testimony
    – Structure and Organization of Courtroom Testimony
    – Cross Examination Strategies and Responses

    “Love the audio file approach! Dr Otto is brilliant and an amazing teacher. Please do more of these!!” -Forensic Social Worker (LCSW)

    “This course was exactly what I needed as I’ve been called to testify for the first time. I learned a ton of helpful information and know what not to do! Wish me luck!-Forensic Psychologist (PsyD)

    “Dr. Otto is such a great teacher; engaging, interesting, and funny! Thank you for this excellent training.” -Psychiatrist (DO)


    Continuing Education Credit

    This Distance Learning Course is a Home Study Training Program. To earn CEs you are required to complete all course materials, quizzes, and the evaluation. No partial credit is available. A score of 70% is required to proceed; you will be able to re-take any quiz on which you score less than 70%. Participants will earn 10 CE hours upon completion of these requirements. Each participant will be able to download and print the CE certificate upon completion of the final evaluation.

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

    Your satisfaction with our programs, products and services is important to us; however, because these are immediately made available to you upon registration and payment, we do not issue refunds. Should you find that a particular program, product or service is not the right fit for you, we will assist you in crediting your registration towards another one of our offerings that might better suit you.

    We specialize in training groups — from a handful to hundreds — and are happy to contact you to discuss your group training needs.

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