Category Archives: PAR Author

Meet Randy K. Otto, PhD, ABPP, Co-Author of the Inventory of Legal Knowledge™ (ILK™)

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
Initially, what I found most compelling about the field of psychology was psychopathology—its development and treatment. During my latter years in college, however, I became increasingly interested in society’s formal responses to persons with mental disorders. This, combined with a longstanding interest in the law, led me to enter Florida State University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, since a number of faculty in the psychology department were interested in interactions between the legal and mental health systems.

What made you decide to develop the Inventory of Legal Knowledge?
I decided to develop the ILK because of my longstanding clinical and research interests in two areas—assessment of criminal competencies and assessment of response style. I also had the opportunity to work with a great colleague, Jeff Musick, who I had the pleasure of supervising when he completed his clinical psychology internship at the University of South Florida. Jeff had developed what could be considered an early ILK prototype. After some discussion, we concluded it would be a good project on which to collaborate. The rest, as they say, is history.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
Two things. First, both Jeff and I regularly evaluate defendants whose competence to proceed with the legal process is raised as an issue. I like to think that, as a result, we are sensitive to the many realities facing forensic psychologists, and that we designed and developed a tool that is user-friendly as a result. I would also like to share that we first agreed that the name of the instrument would be the Competence Assessment Tool, or COMPASS, for short. We thought that the idea of a compass providing direction was particularly clever and would make for a great graphic on the test manual cover, to boot.  Unfortunately, an assessment instrument with a similar name was already in existence. Our second choice was the Inventory of Legal Knowledge, the ILK.

How do you spend your free time?
When not at work or with my family, I am most likely to be found on a motorcycle or in a game of No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

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Meet Michael Shahnasarian, PhD, Author of the Earning Capacity Assessment Form™-2nd Edition (ECAF™-2)

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
My father was a mechanical engineer and very early in my childhood I realized I had no manual aptitude or skills whatsoever. So that career option was closed by lack of talent. My mother always encouraged me to pursue helping professions. When I began taking psychology classes in college at Indiana University, I had a natural affinity for the subject matter.

What made you decide initially to develop the ECAF™-2?
As a practitioner, I realized that the discipline needs more standardization and objectivity and many practicing vocational experts shared my beliefs. In fact, there is a formal group in California that is attempting to develop practice standards. As I gained experience over the years, I learned that there is no other measure equivalent to the ECAF-2.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
It has been under development for over a decade and it has been well-validated through a number of published reliability and validity studies. Also, it incorporates generally accepted methods in sync with mainstream theories.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
My first novel, Justice Indicted, will be published in February 2011. The book is a social commentary based on my experiences as an expert witness for over 25 years.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time traveling with my wife. I have three children ages 16-22. I’ll be accompanying my oldest child on a trip to London later this month; he is enrolling in a master’s program at the London School of Economics.

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Meet the Author: Thomas M. Brunner, PhD

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
This was the best way I could think of to participate in the evolution of our world. I was fascinated by the complex task of identifying patterns to thoughts, feelings, and behavior that could help us predict a person’s behavior. I could not find any field more complex, and all other fields seemed boring compared to this intellectual frontier.

What made you decide initially to develop the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2™ Child and Adolescent (STAXI-2™ C/A)?
The amazing paucity of anger measures currently existing, especially for children and adolescents. I knew the state-trait theory already had been overwhelmingly accepted by the field of psychological assessment. As a developmental psychologist in training, I approached Charlie Spielberger and suggested we develop a measure for children. He and I knew there was such a need since parents, teachers, and mental health professionals were all very concerned about the high prevalence of anger, but researchers seemed to have been giving most of their attention to anxiety, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, etc., classical conditions. Meanwhile, the public health problem of anger “snuck up” on our world. We see this with the school shootings that have occurred that now have everyone’s attention.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
This is a measure that can truly help get at the nuances of anger. As a practicing developmental psychologist who works everyday in the trenches with parents, pediatricians, teachers, etc., I have a keen sense of whether a measure is worth our time and energy as a practitioner who is very busy. The STAXI-2 C/A passes this test admirably. Why? Most people do not want to know if there is anger or not, rather, they want to know if the child is possibly harboring anger, how much they are struggling to control their anger, and to what degree might they be controlling anger much more than any adult appreciates. They also want to know if the anger is more just a temporary state or more like a trait, and thus, more concerning.

These are the most compelling question for our field, and for the adults working with children. And it is these questions that the STAXI-2 C/A provides answers to. Second, this is a necessary measure any time one is conducting a risk assessment, as again, this measure endeavors to assess covert anger that we have learned is “silent but deadly.” This anger measure provides a robust profile of a person’s personality as it relates to anger. In this way, this measure is very practical.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
My experience with anger goes far beyond research and clinical settings, as I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and am blessed with everyday appreciating the nuances of anger in my wonderful children. I learn from them every day. We, as parents, know there is nothing that can replace real-world experience with emotions like anger. I am also a competitive cyclist who most recently rode the Tour de Tucson, a 67 mile road race. My wife and I, with our two wonderful children, live in Tucson, Arizona, deep in the desert, my favorite place on earth.

How do you spend your free time?
Riding as fast as I can down the road, rain or shine. When not in the bike saddle, I am reading to my kids or we are outside enjoying the desert climate. I am currently learning about Transformers and He-Man from my son, and from my daughter, I am learning all about the importance of having tea parties for her dolls.

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