Institute of Living Introduces “CSI”-like Forensic Psychiatry

Specialized psychiatry program will provide insight into court claims

It’s not “CSI” yet, but it’s a start. Identifying a growing need in medical, legal and academic circles, the Institute of Living has launched a forensic psychiatry program offering psychiatric expertise in a variety of civil, criminal, and legislative areas.

The new Forensic Consultation Service provides specialized services such as risk assessment, competency to stand trial evaluations, disability assessments, fitness for duty evaluations (including workers’ compensation evaluations), criminal state of mind evaluations (e.g. ‘Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity’ and ‘Extreme Emotional Disturbance’ defenses), evaluations of sex offenders, determination of testamentary capacities, immigration and asylum evaluations, and independent evaluations of Habeas Corpus petitions.

“We are recognizing this as a valuable service that is becoming more in demand,” said John Bonetti, DO, an IOL psychiatrist and associate director of the new service.

As an example of the kind of work the service provides, Dr. Bonetti completed a lengthy evaluation of a person who had filed a claim against an employer after undergoing a traumatic experience in the workplace. Dr. Bonetti was asked to determine if the employee’s psychiatric issues could be directly linked to the workplace incident, or if the employee was exhibiting symptoms beforehand.

Dr. John Bonetti, DO, an IOL psychiatrist and associate director of the new Forensic Consultation Service.

Cases such as this, which involve civil claims, make up the bulk of the workload as the service establishes itself and builds a reputation, Dr. Bonetti said. In time the program hopes to expand its services to include more criminal cases, offering psychiatric expertise and other services to law enforcement or prosecutors conducting investigations.

“I think when many people hear the word ‘forensic,’ they instantly think of the “CSI” television shows and that kind of thing, but there is actually a need for this kind of service in a broad range of civil and criminal legal settings,” he said.

Along with Dr. Bonetti, who completed an advanced residency in forensic psychiatry at Yale University, the new service benefits from the expertise and experience of IOL Psychiatrist-in- Chief Harold I. Schwartz, MD and IOL psychiatrist Peter M. Zeman, MD, who is board-certified in forensic psychiatry.

The goal is for the service to become a launch pad for education of staff, trainees and patients, advocacy and policy work, academic publications and presentations, community work within the legal field and law enforcement. In addition, those involved with the program hope to work closely with training psychiatrists, sparking interest in the field and aiding the development of some of the skills needed to practice in this sub-specialty.