Equivocal Child Abuse: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Equivocal Child Abuse

1st Edition

By Sandra B. McPherson, Farshid Afsarifard

CRC Press

304 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138114319
pub: 2017-06-14
Hardback: 9781439847763
pub: 2011-09-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429251160
pub: 2011-09-23
from $62.50

FREE Standard Shipping!


Child abuse cases with hard-to-prove allegations pose challenges for all those who seek to protect the welfare of children. Helping courts, evaluators, guardians, and lawyers understand and work with difficult cases, Equivocal Child Abuse brings together insights, experience, and guidance from multiple sources to minimize unnecessary harm done to children and families. Exploring all facets of case management, the book discusses:

  • Legal concepts and theory, the history of guardians ad litem, and the complexity of the processes involved in legal decision making
  • How different court systems operate, the path of a case, and the roles of participants in custody cases
  • The investigative process, the evaluation of report credibility, the use of videotape, perspectives of child custody evaluators, and sample investigations
  • The testimony of expert witnesses, evaluators, guardians ad litem, and treating professionals; and the rules of evidence
  • Hazards practitioners face in domestic relations and custody cases, including licensing issues, civil suit actions, and personal safety concerns
  • Intervention options, such as supervised visitation, therapy for children, and mediation
  • Mental health issues in case participants, including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic and related personality patterns, affective disorders, and substance abuse
  • A working model for the forensic evaluator, with instructions on conducting the evaluation and reportage

Filled with case studies to elucidate concepts, the book also contains appendices with recommended guidelines for interviewing children in cases of alleged sexual abuse, a line-by-line expert critique of a child interview, and other tools, making this volume a critical resource for all those who contend with these complex cases.

Table of Contents

Equivocality in a Complex Legal Context


Principles of Chaos Theory as They Relate to the Arena Under


Summary Point

Principles of Therapeutic Jurisprudence as They Relate to the

Arena Under Consideration

Legal, Historical, and Psychosocial Background

Two Problematic Psychological Concepts

The Courts: Views Across and Within

The Course of a Case

The Rule of Law and the Law of Rules

The Play of the Participants


Current Theory and Research on Brain Function

The Particular Problem of Lying


Abel Testing to Identify Potential Perpetrators

Perspectives from Investigators

Perspectives of Child Custody Evaluators

Legal Standard Issues

Some Case Investigations

Case A

Case B

Case C

The Expert in the Courtroom

Types of Witnesses in DR Court Cases


Guardians ad Litem

Treating Professionals

Rules of Evidence

Practitioner Hazards

Legal Risks

Personal Safety and Physical Risks

One Psychologist’s Experience

Practicing Defensively

Intervention Options

Initial Filing Phase

Interim Pretrial Phase

Hearing and Judgment Phase

Postdecree Phase

Child Therapy as a Means of Establishing Security

Reunification Therapy


The Parent Coordinator Process

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Mental Health Issues

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder and Child Abuse

Affective Disorders

Substance Abuse

Working Model for the Forensic Evaluator

First Step—Conducting the Evaluation

Second Step—Reportage

Top Cat

Equivocal Communication




About the Authors

Sandra B. McPherson, PhD, ABPP, has been involved in both clinical and forensic psychological work for more than 40 years in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Her forensic practice has focused on a combination of domestic relations cases and criminal court work, notably involving death penalty mitigation.

Farshid Afsarifard, PhD, came to the United States in 1976. His clinical work has focused on the application of dialectical behavior therapy to different populations. His forensic interests and activities are in criminal and civil competencies, child custody, termination of parental rights, civil commitment, and mitigation in sentencing.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science
MEDICAL / Psychiatry / General