DSH - Patton: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Forensic Psychology

The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) - Patton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Forensic Psychology is a nationally-recognized training program in forensic psychology. Most fellows enter the fellowship upon completion of the pre-doctoral internship training year and conferral of the doctorate degree; in such cases the fellowship year would then satisfy the second year of two year experience requirement for licensure in many states. The fellowship is an intensive training experience, with the fellow typically dividing time between didactic seminars, supervision, consultation, and the provision of direct services to the population served.


  • Advanced Forensic Seminar - This weekly seminar is designed to provide theoretical and empirical underpinnings for advanced training in forensic psychology. Fellows complete reading assignments and participate in discussion of the topics with the seminar leader. General areas covered include forensic mental health law, forensic assessment, professional ethics, and expert testimony.
  • Landmark Cases in Mental Health Law - This intensive seminar exposes fellows to the most important cases in mental health law. Fellows are expected to "brief" a pro rata share of the cases assigned and then to teach those cases to their colleagues, under the guidance and supervision of the seminar leader. Through this seminar, fellows not only learn how to read and analyze legal opinions, but also to come understand the legal foundations for the forensic assessments they will encounter throughout their careers.
  • Case Conference Seminar - This weekly seminar is attended by the postdoctoral fellows from both fellowship tracks. Cases are presented from the institutional and private practices of the seminar leaders, as well as from the work of the fellows themselves, in a forum where participants can critically analyze the procedures and conclusions from multiple perspectives. The types of cases presented vary to provide a broad-based experience for the seminar participants.

Forensic Assessment:

Types of forensic clinical evaluations typically include:

  • Competency to Stand Trial
  • Assessment of Malingered Trial Incompetence
  • Insanity
  • Mens Rea
  • Violence Risk Assessment
  • Sexual Violence Risk Assessment
  • Mentally Disordered Offender Evaluations:
    • Initial Prison Evaluations
    • Annual Extension Evaluations
    • Civil Extension Evaluations
  • Other Evaluations Outside the Facility* (can include):
    • Sentence Mitigation
    • Juvenile Certification/Decertification to Criminal Court
    • Other civil cases

* Evaluations completed outside of the facility are through the private practices of current and former DSH – Patton psychologists and are not always available. Although there will be types of forensic assessment not experienced in vivo, the fellow will gain didactic training in those areas of assessment.

Forensic Consultation:

The fellows will gain experience in providing consultative feedback to the treatment teams for the individuals evaluated. Usually this feedback will be directed to the psychologists and psychiatrists who requested the evaluations, but also the fellow may participate in the treatment team conferences of the individuals evaluated, to provide useful information for disposition decisions and treatment planning.

Expert Testimony

The fellow will gain exposure to, and possibly experience in, providing expert testimony to courts. These opportunities usually arise in the context of due process hearings for patients seeking release from the hospital, regarding whether they no longer meet legal criteria for extension of their commitments (either mentally disordered offenders or not guilty by reason of insanity acquittees). Also, fellows usually have the opportunity to observe court testimony of their supervisors in local criminal courts. On many occasions, fellows may accompany other psychologists to court for testimony on their private practice cases, gaining valuable insights into what occurs in a private forensic practice.

Fellows also participate in a mock trial experience as part of the requirements of the fellowship.