Forensic Psychiatry Program
Division of Forensic Psychiatry
Under the general direction of the Forensic Division Head, the forensic program offers educational and research opportunities in the subspecialty area of forensic psychiatry. Forensic psychiatry as defined by the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and Law encompasses interface issues between psychiatry and the law in which psychiatric knowledge, research, and opinion are applied to assist the courts in resolving legal disputes within legal contexts. Forensic psychiatry encompasses, but is not limited to, issues in criminal law such as assessing competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility at the time of the offence as well as assisting the court in managing offenders with mental disorders at the pre-sentence and post-sentence phase, as well as those who have been found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. Civil forensic psychiatry encompasses the assessment of mental disorders suffered by persons who have sustained personal injuries, the evaluation of disability, claims for Workers’ Compensation, evaluations of various competencies including capacity to enter into contract, manage financial affairs, and make a will as well as legal competency to instruct counsel. In child and adolescent fields, forensic psychiatry encompasses assessment of young offenders charged with criminal offence under the YCJA, assessments of parental capacity¸ assessment for child abuse and/or neglect, and assessments for child custody.
The forensic program offers clinical placements in three separate sites. The Adult Forensic Services under the clinical direction of Dr. Andrew Kolchak offers student and residency placements in the Forensic Hospital and outpatient services. These focus on assessments of mental state at the time of alleged offences, competency to stand trial, treatment of individuals with mental disorders, and assistance in the management of violent behaviour while on probation. The service also provides opportunity for assessment and treatment of offenders in provincial penal institutions. The Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services under the clinical direction of Dr. Kulwant Riar offers placements to assess and treat young offenders in the inpatient unit and in the detention centre as well as in outpatient facilities around the province. They also offer specialized programs for the assessment and treatment of violent adolescents and adolescent sexual offenders. Training in Civil forensic psychiatry under the direction of Dr. Roy O’Shaughnessy and Dr. Jeanette Smith is provided in private practice locations. Residents and students are offered the opportunity of assessing individuals claiming psychological injury following personal injury as well as doing evaluations of competency and malpractice assessments. Correctional psychiatry is provided in federal correctional facilities under the direction of Dr. Rakesh Lamba and in provincial correctional centres by Dr. Emlene Murphy where trainees have opportunity to learn psychiatric practice in maximum secure correctional and remand settings and to observe and conduct violence risk assessments. All students and residents have opportunity to develop skills in expert opinion report writing to the courts and the BC Criminal Code Review Board.