Psychology, Law, & Trauma Lab

In support of ongoing efforts nationwide toward a trauma-informed juvenile justice system, we are working to identify more comprehensive trauma assessment methods for justice-involved youth. This includes examining informant discrepancy in trauma history and symptom reporting among youth and their caregivers, as well as the additive value of narrative assessment methods. This project is funded by a Valparaiso University Faculty Development Grant and a Valparaiso University Faculty Summer Fellowship

Over the last twenty years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of course offerings and training opportunities in psychology and law as part of undergraduate curricula, as well as at the high school and graduate school levels. As more courses, trainings, and seminars are offered to meet the increasing demand, it is important to incorporate effective methods of teaching psycho-legal course material. In collaboration with Dr. Christina L. Riggs Romaine and Dr. Melinda Wolbransky, we recently completed a two-year, multi-site empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of incorporating experiential activities into Psychology and Law courses. Given that the field of forensic psychology is relatively small when compared to other psychology subspecialties, many undergraduate psychology departments do not have a faculty member with specific psycho-legal or forensic training. To meet this need, and also provide the experienced psychologist with specialized materials, we are near completion of a teaching activities book for college and university instructors, which will provide a wide variety of experiential and simulation activities covering all of the topics typically included in forensic psychology and psychology and law textbooks. For additional information, check out this article on experiential learning in undergraduate psychology and law courses and this blog post on the importance of experiential learning activities

In collaboration with Dr. David Weinstock and Dr. John Moran, this project incorporates the well-established structured professional judgment framework used in criminal forensic assessment contexts to develop a more comprehensive and empirically-based family assessment tool. Following an extensive review of the empirical literature and completion of expert focus groups, a pilot version of the family assessment tool is currently in development and will soon be piloted to determine feasibility, factor structure, and inter-rater reliability. Funded by the Wheatridge Ministries - O.P. Kretzmann Memorial Fund for the Healing Arts & Sciences, this project is intended to serve as a first step toward the long-term goal of validating and disseminating the tool to mental health professionals who work with court-involved families.

Trauma Assessment in Juvenile Justice

Child Custody Evaluation

Teaching Psychology & Law