Forensic Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law at William James College maintains a postdoctoral fellowship program for 3-4 fellows each year. This intensive training opportunity in child and family forensic psychology runs for 12 months, full-time, and carries a stipend of $40,000. Fellows are entitled to eight holidays, vacation, and health insurance. 

Fellows are involved in the Child and Family Evaluation Service (CAFES), a consultation/evaluation unit within the William James College Center of Excellence for Children, Families, and the Law.  It provides forensic evaluation  and consultation services to courts, attorneys, and public and private agencies on issues in which children and families are involved in the legal system (divorce, custody, abuse, access, guardianship, adoption, domestic violence, etc.).  Our Fellows conduct evaluations and produce reports for the Probate & Family Courts and Juvenile Courts across Massachusetts, including opportunities to testify in these courts. The Fellowship offers supervised experience, under the direction of Robin Deutsch, PhD, ABPP and an experienced retired Family Court Judge, Honorable Christina Harms (ret).  Fellows receive intensive weekly supervision, both individual and group. 

Fellows will also be involved in substantial direct provision of services, such as conducting groups for high-conflict parents and conflict resolution sessions.  Fellows attend five William James Blended Learning classes that are dedicated to the relevant case law, legal statutes, and professional "best practices" in this area of expertise leading to a Certificate in Child and Family Forensic issues. In addition, fellows will participate in various seminars and other learning activities offered by William James College and an Expert Witness exercise at Harvard Law School.  Fellows may also participate in ongoing research projects related to high conflict divorce.

Fellows have offices on a dedicated floor for the Department of Community Engagement at William James College. The Leon O. Brenner Center for Psychological Assessment and Consultation staff of senior psychologists, doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows work together with the Child and Family Evaluation Service to provide comprehensive assessments and forensic psychological evaluations for children and families.

By the end of the Fellowship year, fellows will have completed 2,000 training hours, which meets requirements for licensure in Massachusetts and other jurisdictions.

Applicants must have a PhD/PsyD in psychology from an APA accredited program with an APA-accredited predoctoral internship.  Applications should be sent by January 15 to christina_harms@williamjames.edu and include a letter of interest, CV, and three professional references.  

Goals and Objectives of Training

The goal of this postdoctoral fellowship is to provide rigorous training in child and family forensic psychology to develop high competence in the implementation of forensic evaluations and familiarity and experience with best practices and interventions for high conflict families.

Training Objectives

  • Identify basic principles of the legal system and relevant legal statutes and processes
  • Be familiar with forensic psychological evaluation methods and best practice guidelines
  • Be familiar with rules, procedures, and techniques related to expert witness testimony
  • Knowledge of and practice consistent with the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings, and the Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Psychologists
  • Knowledge of and skills in best practices for evaluation of parenting capacities, child maltreatment, and intimate partner violence
  • Ability to critically evaluate research and how it applies to forensic practice
  • Be familiar with attitudes associated with professional, ethical, and culturally competent performance as a psychologist
  • Attainment of advanced skill in providing forensic psychological services sufficient to practice on an independent basis

Fellows receive a Certificate of Completion of a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Child and Family Forensic Issues.  The following competencies are evaluated twice during the year: 

  • Professional conduct, ethics and legal matters
  • Individual and cultural diversity
  • Theories and methods of forensic evaluation and assessment
  • Theories and methods of effective psychotherapeutic intervention related to high conflict families
  • Scholarly inquiry and application of current scientific knowledge to practice
  • Professional consultation

Grievance Procedures

Grievance Procedure for PostDoctoral fellows that:

  1. implicate the College’s policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, sexual violence or retaliation,
  2. may constitute criminal misconduct, or
  3. involve conduct that could result in discipline or expulsion (if a pre-doctoral graduate student or a postdoctoral trainee) are subject to the formal grievance and disciplinary policies and procedures of William James College. 

These are found in the Policies and Procedures of William James College and are available through the Office of the Registrar and the Office of the President. Other Grievances are handled within the postdoctoral programs within the Department of Community Engagement and /or to the WJC grievance and disciplinary process.