Psychodiagnostics in a Forensic Setting

Rotation at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Child Guidance Clinic

Supervisor: Michael E. Barnes Ph.D.

From August to July

  • In addition to providing psychodiagnostic services to students seeking treatment at the Howard University Counseling Service on an "as needed basis, the interns participate in an intensive six-month rotation, providing psychological evaluations for the Social Services Division's Child Guidance Clinic.

  • Interns are required to attend four specialized in-service training seminars each six months, on topics relevant to the work of the Clinic. These seminars are provided by the Court and selected by the Clinic. Local and nationally recognized experts are scheduled each year. Scheduling is made far in advance such that interns may adjust their time accordingly.

The Child Guidance Clinic:

  • Evaluates juveniles age four through eighteen who are under court adjudication

  • Evaluates adults for parental capacity with children under court supervision

Referrals focus on:

  1. Intellectual functioning

  2. Personality functioning

  3. Educational functioning

  4. Neuropsychological functioning

Referral questions may address, but not limited to:

  • Rehabilitation plans

  • Risk to self or to the community at large

  • Competency to stand trial

  • The impact of a traumatic event(s) upon a juvenile such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse

  • capacity

  • Level of detention required

  • Whether a juvenile may be rehabilitated subsequent to a serious violent offense

Referrals are typically made by:

  • Judges via court order

  • Court probation officers

  • Court social workers

  • DC Office of the Attorney General

  • DC Public Defender Service attorneys

Diagnostic categories:

The Clinic has access to a variety of age-appropriate, nationally named and standardized instruments for assessment of specific diagnostic categories such as, but not limited to:

  • Posttraumatic stress

  • Parenting stress/capacity

  • Substance abuse

  • Depression

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Mental retardation


Interns may expect to participate in the following services pursuant to their work:

  • Consultation to court social workers, probation officers or other court professionals

  • Consultation to court liaison agencies such as public or private schools, Youth Forensic Services,

  • Corporation Counsel, Public Defender Service, Child Advocacy Center, etc.

  • Interviews or data gathering forums with collateral informants

  • Outreach to youth and professionals in the community

  • Testimony in court (if strongly desired)


  • There are five licensed clinical psychologists on staff, including a clinical neuropsychologist.

  • Full-time deputy clerks help with the interns' adjustment to the Clinic and Court.

Last updated March, 2014