Psychological evaluations are special reports prepared by a licensed psychologist with expertise in integrating information gathered from diagnostic interviews, psychological testing, and other sources.
Bariatric Pre-operative Evaluations
Bariatric surgery includes several procedures, such as gastric bypass, to help patients struggling with obesity to lose weight. Psychological evaluations are usually required prior to bariatric surgery. The purpose of these evaluations is to ensure that the patient’s mental health is sufficient for the outcome of the surgery to be as safe and positive as possible.
A bariatric pre-operative evaluation aims to make sure the surgery candidate:
Understands the risks and requirements of the operation
Is not likely to harm her/himself by neglecting important medical advice
Has realistic expectations of the surgical outcome
Has and uses an adequate social support system
Can cope with life changes following surgery
Most surgery candidates are considered mentally healthy enough for the surgical procedure to be completed. In many cases, special recommendations will be made to assist the patient with developing more coping skills, emotional support, and realistic expectations.
My interest and training in health psychology began in graduate school. Rotations at a medical center internship allowed me to gain more experience working with issues at the intersection of mental, behavioral, and physical health. I have found it very rewarding to help many clients improve their quality of life by successfully managing various health issues from weight to chronic illness.
There are many issues covered in forensic psychology or psychology related to legal issues.These areas include child custody cases, personal injury claims, work-related lawsuits, and more. I’ve had experience in several of these areas and specialize in evaluations related to criminal cases. I often evaluate a defendant’s competency to stand trial or enter a plea. Another issue I frequently assesses is whether there were any mitigating psychological factors related to a legal case.
I completed formal course work and sought opportunities to train in forensic psychology during graduate school. With encouragement from a professor, I submitted a paper that was published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior. I was first called as a court witness while in graduate school, under the supervision of a professor. I continued to work on legal case evaluations during internship training.
While in independent practice, I’ve testified in cases ranging from child custody, child molestation, competency to stand trial, and more. I have been involved in county and state courts, but more often have worked on federal cases. Attorneys have sought my expertise for cases in Georgia, Florida, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. I have been an expert witness for the prosecution, the defense, and the court (the judge).
Gender Identity Consultation
As a transgender psychologist, I bring professional expertise and personal experience to my work with gender issues.While I am a transman, I have experience with both transmasculine and transfeminine people. I’ve consulted with numerous types of differently gendered clients, including those who identify as transsexual, transgender, gender-variant, gender-fluid, genderqueer, cross-dresser, intersex, and questioning. I’m clear that not everyone who is gender-variant needs to or will be able to transition to living full-time as a different gender. When needed, I have a network of healthcare providers and support groups giving additional help and services to my clients and their families. My aim is to help clients clarify and accomplish their goals in ways that honor themselves and preserve the parts of their lives they want to maintain throughout their questioning and/or transitioning.
I am also glad to provide support for families and partners/spouses of children, teens, and adults who are exploring or transitioning. As a transman myself, I am familiar with the challenges of transitioning with family, friends, and career. I’ve been blessed to have transitioned successfully in all areas of my life through a great deal of deliberation, patience, and planning. I have tremendous appreciation and compassion for the loved ones who seek support, practical suggestions, and useful information about how to adjust to a loved one’s transition. I have guided parents in planning and managing all aspects of their child’s transition to the degree the family seeks my input. As a transgender psychologist, I have presented and written on this topic because these are essential issues for anyone who is transitioning.
Evaluations & Consultation
As many clients with gender identity issues know, there are several ways in which consulting a knowledgeable mental health professional can be helpful. Some clients are already clear that they are transsexual or transgender and seeking gender reassignment. I can assist clients, after evaluation, by providing the letters needed for hormones and surgery to proceed with treatment for gender identity issues. Others need to sort through gender identity confusion, and may need support in clarifying their truths and their options. I can provide this help as well as ongoing support, if needed, through the transition process. Other clients seek consultation to understand and feel comfortable with their gender-variance, such as cross-dressing, but have no interest in medical changes to their bodies.
I am aware that the role of psychologist as “gate-keeper” to medical care for gender reassignment is controversial. Yet, since this is the current reality, I believe it is best to seek “the letter” from a qualified, affirmative professional. I am a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). I use the WPATH (formerly Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association) Standards of Care as guidelines, but this leaves room for clinical judgment to assess cases on an individual basis. I have seen some transgender clients only a few times, but others I have seen more often, to affirm the need for gender reassignment. Scheduling clients for unneeded appointments is unethical in any situation, but I am sensitive that this is a particular concern in the trans community.
Since 1995, I have worked with over 500 clients exploring their gender identities, presentations, and/or transitions. Additionally, because many relationships are gendered (e.g., father-son, aunt-niece, and marriages/partnerships), I work with loved ones in understanding and adjusting to changes in gender presentation and identity. I guide many parents through their child’s social, academic, family, medical, and legal aspects of their child’s gender transition.
Working with organizations and healthcare professionals, I’ve also consulted with numerous schools about gender transitions within the academic setting for transchildren. I have also consulted with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and trained many professionals in transgender and gender diversity issues. I published review of The Transgender Child, and I’m on the committee revising the Standards of Care of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. In 2007-2008, I facilitated a free support group in Atlanta called Gender Crossing. I presented seminars at the annual Southern Comfort Conference from 2009 to 2013. I have written numerous articles educating psychologists about my transition and about the trans community.