1st Edition

A Casebook of Mental Capacity in US Legislation Assessment and Legal Commentary

Edited By Lynn A. Schaefer, Thomas J. Farrer Copyright 2022
    238 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A Casebook of Mental Capacity in US Legislation: Assessment and Legal Commentary employs an applied and accessible approach to the assessment of mental capacity. Through the use of rich vignettes and case examples, the text provides legal commentary to illustrate state laws and ethical principles from varied decision-making capacities in distinct settings to fortify its assessment.

    The text begins by providing a background about decision-making capacity as a construct. It also provides practical guidance on capacity assessment germane to a broad range of clinical settings, including geropsychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology. It moves on to reviewing decision-making rights that make up capacity, and provides ethical guidelines while drawing the practitioner’s attention to the common pitfalls. The case presentations and legal commentary underline key areas such as the capacity to consent to medical treatment, make welfare decisions, enter into a sexual relationship, make financial decisions, create or revoke a will, litigate and contract, and stand trial. It also includes a chapter focusing on integrating culture and diversity in capacity evaluations with the aim of increasing the practitioner’s competence.

    This casebook will be useful for clinical psychologists in practice, researchers and students seeking to understand how to perform capacity assessments, as well as other related healthcare professionals. It is further aimed at legal professionals to utilize as a reference that details how individual types of capacity are defined and assessed.


    Table of Contents

    List of Contributors

    List of Commentators



    Part I: Introduction

    1. Introduction to decision-making capacity

    2. The role of the psychologist in the assessment of capacity

    3. Guiding principles and common pitfalls of capacity assessment

    Part II: Case presentations and commentaries

    4. Capacity to consent to medical treatment

    5. Capacity to make decisions regarding welfare (discharge or where to live)

    6. Capacity to enter into sexual and marital relations

    7. Capacity to make financial decisions

    8. Capacity to make and revoke a will

    9. Capacity to enter into legal proceedings, litigate, and contract

    10. Competence to stand trial

    11. Integrating culture and diversity in capacity evaluations

    Part III

    12. Summary of key learning points


    Dr. Lynn A. Schaefer is a Fellow of the APA (Division 40) and National Academy of Neuropsychology and former Chair of the Ethics PIAC Subcommittee for the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology. Her interests include remediation of neurobehavioral disorders, educational outreach, and capacity. She has presented on the latter to both the APA and ABA.

    Dr. Thomas J. Farrer is a neuropsychologist and an assistant professor at the Duke University Medical Center and adjunct faculty at the University of North Carolina. He has published additional books and articles in neuropsychology and has research interests in dementia, brain imaging, and traumatic brain injury.

    "With A Casebook of Mental Capacity in US Legislation: Assessment and Legal Commentary, editors Schaefer and Farrer provide a much-needed resource for practitioners, particularly those practicing in the United States. Schaefer and Farrer assembled a very impressive group of contributing authors who cover the assessment of the various decisional and functional capacities via rich vignettes. A key feature of the book, one that sets it apart from other volumes on this topic, is the legal commentary that is included in each chapter. Understanding the legal aspects of capacity assessments strengthens the practitioner’s ability to arrive at useful conclusions. This book is essential reading for those who perform or are learning to perform capacity assessments."

    Shane S. Bush, Ph.D., ABPP, Fellow, American Psychological Association, Past President, National Academy of Neuropsychology, Past President, American Board of Geropsychology, Director, Long Island Neuropsychology, PC, Neuropsychologist, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Co-editor, APA Handbook of Forensic Neuropsychology, Forensic Geropsychology, and Geriatric Neuropsychology: Practice Essentials

    "This book deftly weaves together the clinical and legal issues that clinicians are likely to confront when conducting capacity evaluations. The analysis of the case studies within each chapter is unique and will provide important information and guidance for the beginner and expert alike. In my view, Drs. Schaefer and Farrer have provided an indispensable source for conducting clinically accurate, ethical, and legally relevant capacity examinations."

    George J. Demakis, Ph. D., ABPP, Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Editor, Civil Capacities in Clinical Neuropsychology: Research Findings and Practical Applications

    "The authors have crafted an excellent work that combines psychological research with legal analysis on topics of importance to all forensic practitioners. This will be of great value to the clinical and forensic community."

    Michael L. Perlin, Esq., Professor Emeritus of Law, Founding Director, International Mental Disability Law Reform Project, Co-founder, Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, New York Law School