The third component of the fellowship consists of 5 hours of weekly didactic training.  These trainings occur primarily on Tuesdays. The training involves case law seminar and forensic psychology/psychiatry seminar. In addition, the fellows attend a weekly Supervision Seminar, during which they will receive group supervision related to their current case load and other professional issues. The in-house trainings are taught by the primary fellowship faculty. These experiences are designed to deepen the educational experience throughout the fellowship year.  The fellow will be given a list of readings and are required to complete the assigned readings prior to the didactic. The following describes the seminar schedule.

Case Law Seminar is a 90-minute weekly seminar led by Dr. Michael Vitacco. This seminar provides in-depth discussions of landmark legal cases and includes cases recommended by the credentialing boards of both forensic psychology (ABPP) and psychiatry (AAPL). This seminar will go over each landmark case and the fellow will be asked to present a brief on two cases each week.  Fellows are expected to take an active role in the teaching of the landmark case seminar. This is an opportunity for fellows to learn how to read and understand case law, and to sharpen their presentation skills.   

Mental Health Law Seminar is a 90-minute weekly seminar led by psychology and psychiatry faculty designed to teach the fellow various aspects of forensic evaluation and treatment, forensic report writing, and professional responsibility and ethics. The primary textbook for this seminar is: Psychological Evaluations for the Courts-Fourth Edition (Melton et al., 2018). In addition, this seminar will focus on learning psychometric properties of commonly used forensic instruments, the use and interpretation of forensic instruments, and discussing forensically-relevant research.  

Supervision Seminar occurs on a weekly basis and is led by Dr. Michael Vitacco. This seminar is the mechanism for the provision of formal supervision for both fellows. During formal supervision sessions, fellows will not only have an opportunity to discuss their current case load, but they will also be given an opportunity to discuss a variety of professional issues as they arise during the fellowship year. In addition to group supervision, formal supervision occurs on every forensic case. Forensic fellows work closely with faculty to develop comprehensive, well-reasoned forensic reports. As part of this process, fellows will work with their supervisor regarding psychological testing, clinical diagnoses, and opinions related to the referral question(s).

Additional didactic trainings

Grand Rounds. Through the collaboration with Augusta University the fellow can attend Grand Rounds presentations several times a month. Grand rounds are hour long presentations covering a variety of topics within the fields of psychiatry and psychology.  Presenters include both faculty from Augusta University as well as experts from all over the United States. Although these are not forensic topics, the fellow may find many of the presentations interesting and relevant to their forensic practice.  

Mock Trials. There will be two mock trial experiences during the year. In collaboration with the Medical University of South Carolina, each fellow will have the opportunity to undergo voir dire, direct examinations, and cross examinations on a forensic report. The fellows will serve as the experts for their own report, while psychologists and psychiatrists will serve as the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges. A second mock trial occurs in conjunction with the Emory University School of Law. During this mock trial the fellow takes on the role of an expert witness and is a witness on a fabricated case. The goal of the mock trials is for the fellows to advance their testifying skills through an experiential exercise while receiving critical feedback from law and mental health faculty.

DHBDD Annual Forensic Conference. Each year the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities puts on a three-day forensic conference with experts from around the United States and Canada. Over the last several years topics have included risk assessment, malingering, the insanity defense, and mental health case law. The fellow will be provided funding to attend this three-day event.