Refugee Mental Health Resource Network → Free - No CE

Documenting, Report Writing and Expert Testimony in Asylum Cases: How to - Nov 30,2018

In follow up to the previous webinars addressing aspects of an asylum evaluation, this webinar specifically focuses on tips for documenting observations, report writing, and providing expert testimony in court. While many evaluations do not require testifying in court, it is useful to be prepared should it be requested. The initial portion of the webinar will update members on developments of the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network followed by the presentation on asylum evaluations.

The purpose of an immigration evaluation in asylum cases is to collect information about the mistreatment and persecution the asylum applicant reports and to examine the psychological impact that these circumstances have had on the examinee. Evaluators assess the extent and severity of the original trauma, whether the client continues to suffer from psychological symptoms after arrival in the U.S., and how long the psychological consequences may potentially last. The communication of this information and opinion in a report and expert testimony is essential to the outcome of the case. The outcome of the process for the asylum seeker is life-changing, and in these times a one-shot opportunity, which is a significant responsibility for the psychological examiner. Being aware of some technical considerations may make the difference between a powerful or counterproductive piece of evidence. This webinar will also address technical tips to communicate the results of an evaluation in order to provide an accurate and efficient portrayal of the applicant’s psychological damage.

For those interested in participating in the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network Database, please visit and click on the volunteer tab.

Presented by:

Elizabeth Carll, PhD

Giselle Hass, PsyD

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to describe two models of organizing information in an asylum evaluation report.

2. Participants will be able to describe how to communicate results in written reports that are integrative, coherent, clear and relevant.

3. Participants will be able to describe the relevant ethical and practice standards for expert testimony.

4. Participants will be able to describe tips for effective oral testimony.


Elizabeth Carll, PhD is a licensed psychologist in New York, the chair of the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network, an APA Interdivisional Project, and past president of the APA Trauma Psychology Division. She serves on the executive committee of the United Nations NGO Committee on Mental Health and other organizations focusing on policy development and mainstreaming of health, mental health, and human rights into global issues. She is also in independent clinical and consulting practice

Giselle Hass, PsyD is an immigrant from Costa Rica. She earned a PsyD. from Nova Southeastern University. After working in Florida, Virginia, and Washington D.C. for 30 years, she now splits her time between Nicaragua and Florida. She specializes in assessment of traumatic experiences on immigrants and refugees as forensic expert in immigration proceedings, family and criminal courts. Her latest book is: Evans, B. & Hass, G. (2018). Forensic Psychological Assessment in Immigration Court: A Guidebook for Evidence-Based and Ethical Practice.


American Psychological Association. (2013). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. American Psychologist, 68, 7-19.

Bornstein, R. F. & Hopwood, C. J. (2014) Introduction: Multi-Method Clinical Assessment. In: C. J. Hopwood & R. F. Bornstein (Eds.), Multi-Method Clinical Assessment. New York: Guilford Press.

Filone, S. & DeMatteo, D. (2017). Assessing “credible fear”: A psychometric examination of the trauma symptom inventory-2 in the context of immigration court evaluations. Psychological Assessment, 29(6), 701-709.

Rogers, H., Fox, S., & Herlihy, J. (2014). The importance of looking credible: The impact of the
behavioural sequelae of post-traumatic stress disorder on the credibility of asylum seekers, Psychology, Crime & Law, 21(2), 139-155.

Musalo, K., Meffert, S. M., & Abdo, A. O. (2010). The role of mental health professionals in
political asylum processing. Journal of The American Academy of Psychiatry & The Law, 38, 479-489.
  • Documenting_ Report Writing and Expert Testimony - Recording
  • Documenting, Report Writing, and Expert Testimony - CE Test
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