The following are my policies regarding my rates and retainer. (October, 2016)
My typical retainer is $5000 assuming that an evaluation will be conducted. If an evaluation is not expected, a lesser retainer or no retainer may be negotiated.
Rates and fees
My rate for review of documents and report writing is $350 per hour. A typical report is completed in 12-24 hours, depending on complexity.
My rate for deposition testimony and courtroom testimony is $550 per hour.
I have a flat rate for evaluations of $4000.
Travel time is included in the flat fee for evaluation. I charge $150 per hour for travel time to come to court or to attend a deposition or other meeting.
The typical expenses other than the hourly fees are the fees for tests (typically $150 to $280 total), meals ($50 per day if out of town), hotel expense if out of town, and fees for administrative assistants if there are specific tasks that are requested.
I typically bill at key points in the process, rather than weekly, e.g., when I produce a product, complete a deposition, testify, or finish an evaluation. This can be adjusted if other billing procedures are preferable.
Expert Forensic credentials in Trauma Psychology
I take approximately 10-12 forensic cases a year, always in the area of the evaluation of clients alleging some type of psychological trauma or stress. I seldom do criminal or general custody cases, but have testified in dependency cases regarding potential removal of children from parental custody after severe neglect/abuse. The cases I take typically involve sexual or physical assault, harassment or discrimination, malpractice, or wrongful termination. Over the course of my career, I have testified almost equally for Plaintiff/Defense.
My qualifications for testimony include 25 years as a professor of psychology, teaching trauma assessment and treatment and multivariate statistics; editorship and editorial board membership on multiple trauma journals; co-editorship of the Handbook of Trauma (published by the American Psychological Association); author of dozens of peer-reviewed papers on trauma; national and international awards on clinical contributions to trauma treatment as well as scientific researchon trauma. Winner of the 2016 lifetime achievement award in trauma psychology by the Trauma Psychology Division (56) of the American Psychological Association; former President of the Division 56 of the American Psychological Association andcurrent chair of the Science committee.
Statement of Integrity
Multiple research studies have shown that juries often do not trust psychological testimony. There are a number of reasons for this, and if psychologists do not live up to the ethics of their profession, the mistrust can be justified. Unfortunately, it is easy for psychologists to slip into dubious territory due to allegiance. A common dubious practice on the Plaintiff side is to fail to record the Plaintiff interview, usually combined with failing to take clear enough notes to allow a critique of the method of evaluation, or avoidance of tests with malingering scales. A common dubious practice on the Defense side it to give personality disorder inventories in a Defense evaluation that over-diagnose personality disorder (thus undermining perception of Plaintiff character), despite no prior evidence that this diagnosis is likely or relevant. The fairest way to ensure an ethical evaluation thus is to describe the interview here, in advance, as it applies to both Plaintiff and Defense cases.
- All clinical interviews that I conduct will be recorded. Failing to record the clinical interview allows the expert to consciously or unconsciously distort his or her findings. Both Defense and Plaintiff should have access to all data from the evaluations, including all questions that the expert asks.
- I do ask for an exception for the cognitive testing, during which no questions relevant to the case itself will be asked. If recording is mandated, I ask for some type of protective order to safeguard the test integrity (as is requested by test publishers). The cognitive evaluation, which contains proprietary questions, should not be recorded as best practice for the reasons of copyright protection and because it violates standardization of the protocol for most cognitive evaluations, jeopardizing interpretation. Silence (the Plaintiff filling out the MMPI, for instance) will typically not be recorded, but I am willing to do so if either attorney suggests that I do so.
- In all interviews I will do my best to ask questions that will elicit the information that may support both theories of the case.
- In all interviews, the Plaintiff will be treated with respect. This includes breaks when needed, honoring the Plaintiff’s right to call his/her attorney with questions at any time, encouragement of the Plaintiff to give me feedback if Plaintiff feels uncomfortable, and honoring wishes to slow the pace or shift topics temporarily, etc.
- While no one other than myself and the Plaintiff can be present during the examination, children may wish to take more frequent breaks to check in with their parents.
- I have never had a child be unable to handle the evaluation, but many are nervous initially (as are many adults), particularly if I am the Defense examiner. I am open to suggestions of ways to mitigate this anxiety that are acceptable to the Plaintiff and his/her attorney. Some parents believe that the presence of small toys or rewards will be necessary to ease the process. If this method is used, I would give the parent these prizes or rewards prior to testing for distribution throughout the day, so that the child will not be led to believe that the rewards are due to giving certain answers. Other parents prefer the use of a computer based relaxation program, in which the child puts an earclip on his/her ear and watches a relaxing program that produces images on the screen when the child begins to relax. Still other parents offer other suggestions, or do not believe that any specific additional technique, other than gentleness in questioning, will be necessary. These adjunctive strategies will not be used without prior permission from the Plaintiff’s parents and attorney, and are solely meant to make the experience easier for the child Plaintiff. They are seldom necessary for children over the age of 8.
- All testimony will be based on scientific research evidence and test results, rather than personal opinion.
- Testing will include a cognitive screener of some type (minimally, to establish the Plaintiff’s ability to take the rest of the tests), a broad symptom test, specific tests alleged by records or Plaintiff’s and Defense’s other experts/witnesses to be relevant, and specific tests of syndromes often associated with the form of trauma alleged and/or the Plaintiff’s clinical history. A typical testing evaluation protocol is available on the website.
- I will not change my opinion based on the side that is hiring me, and in fact, believe this not to be of benefit to any party.
Annual Award for Clinical Contributions — International Society for the Study of Dissociation, 2002
William Friedrich Award for Child Sexual Abuse Research, Assessment and Treatment, 2006 – International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma
Morton Prince Award for Scientific Achievement — International Society for Trauma and Dissociation, 2010
Pierre Janet Writing award for Trauma Publications – International Society for Trauma and Dissociation, 2012
Lifetime Achievement award in Trauma Psychology – American Psychological Association, Division 56, 2016
Dr. Dalenberg can be reached at 858-635-4835 or by email by clicking here.