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Assessing children's and adolescents' needs, wishes and feelings for civil Court cases

Posted on 8 October 2002

A major conference to examine current methods of assessing children and adolescents for the Courts will take place on Friday 11 October. The University of York conference - ‘Child Assessments for the Courts' - will bring together professionals involved in working with children and families in statutory work. They will include child and adolescent therapists, legal professionals, CAFCASS, psychologists, psychiatrists, managers and senior practitioners in Health, Social Services and voluntary agencies.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists are often asked for their expert opinions of children's and adolescents' needs, wishes and feelings in order to inform Court decisions in complex Court cases. Providing such expert opinion can be challenging; traditional clinical interviewing and psychological testing are not designed for this purpose and can be problematic.

At the conference a range of speakers will highlight child-centred, evidence-based approaches to assessments.

  • Dr Debbie Hindle - a consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, Glasgow - will discuss psychodynamically-based play assessments, including assessments of siblings, for the Courts.
  • Dr Eileen Vizard - a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Young Abuser's Project, NSPCC, London - will address ways in which psychiatric assessments of children and adolescents can inform Court decisions
  • Dr Virginia Ryan - a child psychologist and play therapist in the Social Policy and Social Work Department, University of York - will examine observations and play assessments based on non-directive methods and their advantages and restrictions for Courts' use.
  • Mr Ernest Ryder - QC, and deputy High Court judge of the Family Division, will discuss the legal issues arising from child assessments in Court settings.

The conference organiser is Dr Virginia Ryan.

Notes to editors:

  • The conference will be held at St William's College, York. It will open at 10.00am and finish at 5.00pm.
  • Interviews with Dr Virginia Ryan - child psychologist and play therapist; Director, MA/Diploma in Non-Directive Play Therapy, University of York - who has organised the conference, are available on the day and afterwards by prior arrangement. To arrange, contact: Samantha Alvarez,email voicemail: 01904 432301

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153