Power of Testimony

Therapists also possess authority to influence the lives of their clients through their testimony as experts in the civil and criminal courts and through similar judicial or administrative proceedings. A therapist's testimony may determine whether someone convicted of murder is executed or paroled. A therapist's testimony may influence whether a parent gains or loses custody of a child. A therapist's testimony may influence a jury's decision about whether a defendant was capable of committing a crime, was likely to have committed it, was legally sane at the time the crime was committed, or is likely to commit similar crimes in the future. A therapist's testimony may influence a jury to believe that a very young child was sexually molested or that the child fantasized the event (or was coached to make a false allegation as part of a custody dispute). An expert witness's testimony may lead a jury to believe that the plaintiff is an innocent victim of a needless trauma who is suffering severe and chronic harm or that the same plaintiff is a chronic liar, a gold-digger, or a malingerer who is feigning or at least exaggerating dramatic symptoms.

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