Addressing the need for forensic psychological evaluations of asylum seekers: The potential role of the general practitioner

Elizabeth Singer, Meghana Eswarappa, Khushmit Kaur, Kim A. Baranowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Asylum seekers who have survived torture and other abuses may experience a wide range of psychological symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. During the asylum process, attorneys might refer their clients to clinicians who document these psychological sequelae of human rights violations. However, the need for forensic psychological evaluations exceeds the number of mental health clinicians available to provide these assessments. It has been suggested that primary care physicians, professionals who already play essential roles in the identification and treatment of mental health issues, may be able to conduct these evaluations. Yet, there is little empirical knowledge of what prior training and clinical experiences support mental health and non-mental health professionals who engage in this work, and what is needed to prepare general practitioners to provide forensic psychological evaluations to asylum seekers. This pilot study found non-mental health practitioners with experience in psychological forensic evaluations reached a level of confidence in conducting evaluations of asylum seekers comparable to general mental health practitioners. The study also identified clinicians’ perceptions of training that supports them in their forensic psychological evaluations, their professional development needs, and the potential for general practitioners to leverage their current skill sets in this work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112752
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuing education
  • Forensic training
  • General clinicians
  • Immigrants
  • Psychological trauma


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