Services - Custody/Access Assessments

Overview of Family Court Evaluations

"Helping parents meet children’s needs,
Helping parents help themselves."

Custody/access evaluations (also called psychological parenting evaluations) assist parents and courts in determining the best plan for their children with respect to the division of parenting time and parenting responsibilities. Sometimes parents jointly agree to have an assessment, sometimes they are ordered to do so by the courts. Comprehensive evaluations consist of several parts. First as a parent, you will be interviewed in the psychologist's office and will be asked to complete a number of psychological tests. The tests include personality and parenting-related measures. You will be observed in direct interaction with your children, usually at least once in your home and once in the psychologist’s office. The psychologist will ask you to provide a list of people who you would like to be interviewed on your behalf, preferably people who are familiar with your parenting practices. If there is another adult living in the home who is involved in parenting the children, that person will also be assessed. The psychologist will interview your children, and depending on their age, might ask them to complete some tests and questionnaires. Teachers, therapists and other professionals who know your family may also be contacted for information. Finally, you or your lawyer will be asked to provide all necessary documents to be reviewed. At the end of the process, the psychologist will produce a written report which integrates all this information. Arrangements will likely be made to meet with both sets of legal counsel to discuss the overall report and recommendations. Once the report is released, the onus is back on the parents to work toward some sort of workable settlement keeping in mind the findings of the evaluation. If no agreement can be reached at this stage, one or both parents may then take the matter forward to court, where a judge will review all the information presented through a trial before making a final decision. Regardless of how settlement is reached, it is important for parents to protect their children from unnecessary involvement in the process, for example, by refraining from discussion of the outcome until a final agreement is actually reached.

Often parents who have gone through a custody evaluation find they have learned a great deal about their individual strengths and weaknesses and that they have an increased understanding of the social and emotional needs of their children. They may better understand how they got stuck when they were going through the separation process. Most importantly, with the assistance of their legal advisors, they may be able to work toward creating a parenting plan with a clearer sense of both their children’s needs and their own commitments.
For a comprehensive discussion about an evaluation, see A Parent's Guide to Custody and Access Family Assessment. This pamphlet by Dr. Arthur Leonoff, a Psychologist based in Ottawa, Ontario, provides a more detailed overview of what you might expect from an open bilateral custody evaluation. While individual assessors will vary in their approach and format compared to Dr. Leonoff, a good general overview is provided. This pamphlet is originally from the Guide to Custody and Access Assessments by Arthur Leonoff and Robert Montague, published 1996 by Carswell, and may be printed off for your personal use.

At the Centre for Family and Health Psychology, both Dr. Joanne Seitz and Dr. Graeme T. Clark specialize in Psychological Parenting Evaluations for custody/access and child protection issues. More detailed information about their respective professional backgrounds is also provided below.

Generally, we try to complete custody assessments within two or three months of the start date. A custody assessment for a family with two parents and two children requires, on average, 40 hours to completion. Time depends on the complexity of the case and the number of individuals involved. Complexity increases in situations where abuse, domestic violence, alienation processes and the like are alleged.

Fees for assessments vary from between $175.00 to $200.00 per hour. Please note that both Dr. Clark and Dr. Seitz are affiliated with the Custody Mediation Program and their services can be partially covered by government subsidy where warranted.

Both Dr. Clark and Dr. Seitz are also available for Practice Note 7 evaluations, including Parental Conflict Interventions, for liaison consultation with lawyers, and for Work Product Reviews critiquing evaluations completed by other colleagues. Depending on circumstances, we also occasionally do one-sided evaluations (from a strictly independent position) and targeted evaluations.

Dr. Leonoff’s Pamphlet

The following pamphlet by Dr. Arthur Leonoff, a Psychologist based in Ottawa, Ontario, provides a more detailed overview of what you might expect from an open bilateral custody evaluation. While individual assessors will likely vary in their approach and format compared to Dr. Leonoff, a good general overview is provided. This pamphlet may be printed off for your personal use.

A Parent’s Guide to Custody and Access Family Assessment
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Arthur Leonoff, Psychologist. Originally from Arthur Leonoff and Robert J. Montague, Guide to Custody and Access Assessments (Published by Carswell Publishing, Scarborough, Ontario, 1996)


This booklet is intended as an introduction and guide for separating or divorcing parents who are facing an assessment to determine custody and access provisions for their children.

An assessment involves a study of the family. These family studies are commonly requested by the lawyers representing the parents or ordered by the court to provide an impartial basis of evidence upon which to make these vital and sensitive decisions. The assessments are only conducted when court ordered or when mutual consent of both parents and their lawyers has been attained.

The assessor providing the evaluation is a mental health professional with special training in personality and human development who lends his or her expertise to assist you in making these decisions with the least stress and trauma to your children and to yourselves.

If you are now in the position where an assessment has been recommended or ordered, it is very important that you are familiar with some of the basic principles and procedures that the assessor will use in evaluating yourself and other family members or significant others. This is the intention of this booklet. Hopefully, with this overview, you will feel more informed about the assessment, more comfortable with the process, and more aware of what it can accomplish.

The Assessment and the Assessor

Divorcing parents, in conflict over the proper route for themselves and their children, face many losses and disruptions. No loss is more feared, however, than that of children. We all experience our children as part of ourselves and we may be concerned that the other parent may not appreciate how precious a bond they represent to us. In this burdened atmosphere, custody and access assessments can feel like the edge of a slippery slope. How will the assessor view the process and what should you, as a participant, know in order to further the aims and progress of the evaluation?

1. The Assessor

The assessor is trained to be "therapeutic" and he or she will try to be so in your case. Although the legal system works within a conflict model, mental health assessors do not. Rather, the assessor will look at what each parent can bring to the new family system, the strengths and weaknesses along side special needs and capacities of the children, in order to propose a post-separation arrangement that will best fit your children’s emotional and social requirements. This framework will include specific recommendations as to residence, legal responsibilities, and visitation schedules. The assessor will be interested in whom you are as people as well as the personality, needs and attributes of your children. Having collected much information from the evaluation, the assessor will then harmonize and integrate what has been learned in order to tailor make a parenting formula that will be most relevant and useful not simply in the present but for the years to follow.
The assessor will look at strengthening bonds, avoiding further losses, healing emotional wounds, and finding ways to avoid creating new ones. Of course, the assessor is being asked to make judgments and this is unavoidable for the reality of the divorce conflict or concerns demand this. Yet, all research shows that it is chronic unresolved conflict between parents that is most harmful to children in divorce no matter what arrangement is in place, and the assessor is most interested in helping you prevent this.

2. Atmosphere

When a divorcing family is referred for a custody and access assessment, there has often been a great deal of prior conflict and negative feelings likely prevail. Understandably, parents may feel misunderstood and even blamed by the other parent for what has happened to their relationship and they are anxious that the assessor understand their point of view and work with their concerns and worries. Because marital breakdown and divorce result in a very stressful time, it is natural for self esteem to suffer and for people to be drawn into a fighting stance.

Having lawyers to represent you in this conflict and to provide access to the courts is one way to help resolve disputes. Family assessments are another because they can get beyond combat and look at the longer term interests of the children and their parents. The atmosphere and aims of an assessment are best seen as an objective study and not as a battle. It is important to remember that you will have many years to parent together long after these urgent matters are settled.

3. "Best Interests of the Children"

During litigation, the courts often ask the assessor to consider what custody and access provisions will be in the best interests of the children. This determination is never easy to make and, although it is made after much thought and study, it remains an opinion. The assessor is asked to assist your lawyers and the courts but is not there to replace them. The assessor is not a judge but his or her expertise in human behaviour should allow a special insight into what will likely work best for all concerned in the future. In the case of a trial, judges will generally rely on the results of the evaluation in reaching a decision.

4. On What Basis Does the Assessor Decide Upon Recommendations?

It is difficult to list all the factors that are considered when such an assessment is done. Each family situation is unique and requires a special investigation of the merits and issues that divide the parents and impede resolution. The following, however, are some of the important factors that are well described in the psychological literature:

a. The relative strength and health of relationship between each parent and
b. The personality of the parents and what each can bring to the benefit of
    their children during the growing up process.
c. The developmental stage and needs of each child both now and in the     future.
d. The extent to which each parent knows their child and can be sensitive to
    their child’s developmental needs while separating these needs from their
e. The capacity of each parent to facilitate the children’s links to the other
    parent and to acknowledge the other’s parenting role in the lives of the
f.  The willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate and resolve issues
    concerning the children.
g. The potential of each parent’s life style to provide socially and emotionally
    for their children on a consistent and realistic basis.

5. Common Anxieties and Concerns During Custody Assessments

Because these assessments are done at a time of conflict, disruption and uncertainty in the life of the parent, anxieties may run high, especially when one has to face the scrutiny of such an assessment.

The following are common concerns often raised by parents during these family studies:

a. "Can I question the assessor and raise my concerns or will the assessor hold it against me?"

By all means tell the assessor or otherwise you may not feel confident to be open, and the assessment will suffer as a result. When you do speak of these concerns, it is up to the assessor to deal effectively with your concerns and to allay your anxieties. Because assessors are often trained in psychotherapy, they are generally very used to being questioned and consider this a natural part of any healthy relationship. Psychologists are also aware that this is of vital importance to you and that you must be assured that the process is an objective and reasonable one.

b. "Should I discuss these concerns with my lawyer?"

Absolutely, for your lawyer’s role is to protect your rights even as regards the assessment. It is very important, thought, that you discuss fears, doubts, and criticisms first with the assessor who is the proper person to address these matters. If the assessor fails to allay your concerns then you have every right to request that your lawyer communicate with the assessor on your behalf. In almost all cases, this will suffice to resolve your concerns so that the assessment can proceed normally to its conclusion.

c. "Why do I feel that the assessor does not accept what I am saying?"

This is a very natural feeling and almost everybody seems to experience it, especially at the outset of an assessment. Naturally, you are anxious to be well received and to have your views acknowledged; likewise, the assessor is motivated to know you as well as possible in the time available. Towards this end, the assessor will ask questions and perhaps question you further on a certain issue. This probing might leave the impression that you are being disbelieved when, in fact, the assessor is simply trying to deepen an understanding and know you better.

d. "Can I be open and honest or should I be strategic and on guard with what I
     say or don’t say?"

Naturally, parents want to put their best foot forward and not to tarnish their image in the assessor’s eyes. The assessor, on the other hand, can only do the job best if he or she can develop a rapport and strong working alliance with each parent. It is in each person’s best interest to be open, especially for the sake of the children. There is no better strategy, then, than to be yourself in all your dimensions and not be concerned that this will condemn you in the assessor’s eyes. It is in fact the opposite. Parents who remain closed, defensive and overly guarded limit the evaluation from being as meaningful and healthy as it might be and are rarely satisfied with the result.

e. "If I have personal problems or have needed therapeutic help in the past,
     will that be against me?"

Having undergone psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, or help for addictions and other personal problems does not preclude anyone from having an important role in the life of their child. Assessors, in their everyday practice, work with people with emotional and behavioural problems and know this to be a very common occurrence. Because of their work and training, assessors are highly respectful of people who seek mental health treatment and are likely to see this as an asset and not a liability. It takes definite courage and self responsibility to face one’s problems and get to the bottom of what troubles us.

f. "Will the assessor morally judge my past conduct and my decisions?"

None of us are absolutely free of moral judgments and neither are assessors. Yet, assessors are trained to go beyond these simple notions and to try and understand people in their depths. As it is our chosen work, we are very motivated to put forth recommendations that will further the health and adjustment of the family at this most difficult time. Alleviating tension is an assessor’s first responsibility as we know that it is this factor that can lead to psychological symptoms in children and adults. Hence, what the assessor does is totally opposite to judging, blaming or accusing. This type of behavior may, however, occur between ex-spouses during divorce and participants may worry that the assessor will act in kind.

g. "Will the assessor ask my children with whom they would rather live?"

There is substantial research evidence to support the conclusion that children have a wish to love and be with both of their parents, and it is unnatural for them not to express such a desire. Many years after separation, children will still harbor wishes that their parents will someday reconcile and live together as one family. It would never be appropriate, therefore, for an examiner to place such an ill suited choice on a child’s shoulders and such questions will not be asked. Yet, older children, especially of adolescent years, will sometimes take sides and act in a very judgmental way. They may want someone to take the blame for this harsh imposition on their lives. Occasionally, though, for reasons specific to the family, a child of sufficient age may offer some opinion as to the type of arrangement they desire. This may include the notion of living with one parent or the wish that the parents would share the same time and responsibilities. Even when a child spontaneously expresses a preference, however, the assessor will always explore the underlying reasons behind this preference to determine it’s meaning and motivation.

h. "How should I explain the assessment to the children?"

Naturally, this will vary somewhat with that age and maturity of the particular child. Generally, however, it is important to explain that mother and father have asked an assessor to help decide where the children should live and how the family should function now that there is a separation. It is also useful to explain that the assessor will be meeting with all concerned including them. Children are most often very willing to participate in these evaluations and seem to weather the process quite well. The assessor is very sensitive to children’s fears of being placed in the middle between their parents and will design the activities and questions to avoid unnecessary stress.

Younger children may have tendencies to blame themselves for the marriage breakdown and it is worthwhile for both parents to reassure their children on several occasions that this is not so. Older children and adolescents may want to lay blame and side with one parent against the other. They are at an age where moral judgments are important and are often made in very concrete terms such as "all good" or "all bad". Although it may be soothing in the short term to gain alliance with a child especially when we are angry with the other parent, in the long run this will only further a harmful split. Parents should support each other’s legitimacy and encourage children to express their negative feelings of anger, betrayal, or shame while not cutting off relationships.

6 . How Will the Assessment Proceed and What is Involved?

The assessment will consist of several different activities and procedures, each designed to provide a certain part of the overall picture. The assessor works by gathering as many observations and insights as possible concerning the parents and children through each of these means. Conclusions and recommendations, then, emerge from the analysis of all that has been learned. Each assessor will tend to emphasize certain procedures over others depending on their particular training and approach. The following represent the procedures most commonly used in completing an assessment:

a. Interviews with the parents
b. Interviews with the children
c. Interviews of each parent together with their children
d. Interviews with additional significant adults such as new spouses
    and grandparents when necessary
e. Home visits where appropriate
f.  Psychological testing of the adults and children
g. Consultation with teachers, physicians and others who may have
    important reliable information to offer
h. A careful reading of all documentation provided by the lawyers
    in support of the parent’s position.

7. Protecting Children During this Transition

Separation and divorce are hard on children and they may have problems adjusting to it. The most stressful period seems to occur in the first 18 months after separation but problems can continue especially if there is a high level of conflict between the adults. What can parents do to offset these strains and tensions and allow children to make the best and quickest adjustment possible?

a. It is important to maintain parental control by trying to parent as you did prior to the separation. Because it is an upsetting and disruptive time, you may feel less able to parent and less patient to meet children’s complex needs. Yet, it will pay dividends for parents as well as children to try and keep the familiar routines, rituals and style of discipline of which you and the children are most accustomed. Children need to feel that the parents can still provide for them and support their development despite the separation.

b. Resist involving the children in the conflict with the other parent. Children can least cope with the stress of divorce when they feel in the middle between their disputing parents. Make it clear to your children that these conflicts are for the adults to solve and that they should feel free to love and be loved by both their parents. Do not ask the children to pass angry notes or otherwise convey messages that are likely to upset the other parent. This will serve to create unwanted guilt and anxiety. It is vital to remember that children need more support and nurturing during separation and divorce than they do during normal times.

c. Ask children of sufficient age to take some household responsibilities which will allow them to feel useful and part of the re-adjustment process. Separation leads to the formation of new households which can be a challenge to all concerned. Children respond to being useful and responsible and this enhances their self control and self esteem.

d. If you cannot easily talk to the ex-partner, use a note book to communicate details regarding the children’s lives and any concerns that you may have.

e. Notify the school that there has been a separation and ask them to contact the custodial parent(s) if the need arises. Ask the school if they have a program to help children from separated families and whether your child may benefit from it.

f. Remember that transitions from one home to another, particularly at the outset of a separation, are difficult especially for younger children. They are likely to miss the parent they are leaving and may be reluctant to part. This calls for reassurance and support rather than in assuming that this as an expression of their real preference.

9. The Ingredients of a Good Assessment

This is a very important issue and one that is difficult to quantify. One measure that should not be applied, though, is that the family assessment recommends exactly what was wanted. This may or may not occur which is why one must keep in mind that the goal is to provide as secure and enabling and environment as possible for your children despite what has occurred between the parents. Maintaining this frame of reference will help to absorb the conclusions and suggestions of the examination and will facilitate working with your lawyer towards finalizing this part of the settlement.

Having been through an array of interviews and evaluation techniques, you should definitely feel that there has been a serious attempt on the part of the examining assessor to understand you and to address your issues, concerns and the needs of your children. What this means is that the assessor has explored with you aspects of your personality, background, the history of the marriage or relationship, your understanding of your children, your aspirations and plans for them in the future, your concerns regarding the other parent, along with other issues that may be important in you particular situation.

You should also feel that the assessor has given you the opportunity to express yourself and to relate matters and concerns that are of relevance to you. Of course, there is a limit as to how long the assessment can be extended and at some point it must end. Nevertheless, each parent should feel that they have more than adequate opportunity to express themselves and that their concerns and issues have been well communicated and understood. It is common for parents to request one more meeting, more to be sure that they have been heard than to convey new information. This is a natural experience and the assessor will help you determine whether there is need or not for additional meetings. The assessor will also be willing to discuss the conclusions with you before the results are conveyed to your lawyers. This is an important ingredient to a good assessment and often provides a last occasion to fine tune the specifics of recommendations so that they will be most applicable.

As the family study is completed, you should also have the impression that the examiner has considered your children carefully and taken steps to review their personalities, progress and any special concerns that they may have.
Finally, everyone involved recognizes that divorce has consequences that none of us can entirely defer. The assessor is very aware, as you are, that both parents cannot always be pleased for this is the sad reality and limitation with which we must all contend. Yet, a good assessment paves the way to accepting a result that may not be at all favoured or may not provide for all that we had hoped. In the end, though, we all share a common goal which is to provide for offspring who must keep pace with our changes and who must adapt to changing circumstances that are stressful and not of their own choosing.

Children’s Bill of Rights

I   The right to be treated as an interested and affected person and not as a
    pawn, possession or chattel of either or both parents.

II  The right to grow to maturity in that home environment which will best
    guarantee an opportunity for the child to grow to mature and responsible     citizenship.

III  The right to the day by day love, care, discipline and protection of the
     parent having custody of the child.

IV  The right to know the non-custodial parents and to have the benefit of such
     parent’s love and guidance through adequate visitations.

V   The right to a positive and constructive relationship with both parents, with
     neither parent to be permitted to degrade or down-grade the other in the
     mind of the child.

VI  The right to have moral and ethical values developed by precept and
     practices and have limits set for behaviour so that the child early in life
     may develop self-discipline and self-control.

VII The right to the most adequate level of economic support that can be
     provided by the best efforts of both parents.

VIII The right to the same opportunities for education that the child would have
      had if the family unit had not been broke.

IX  The right to periodic review of custodial arrangements and child support
     orders as the circumstances of the parents and the benefit of the child
     may require.

X   The right to recognition that children involved in a divorce are always
     disadvantaged parties and that the law must take affirmative steps to
     protect their welfare, including, where indicated, a social investigation to
     determine, and the appointment of a guardian ad litem to protect their

- Anonymous

Recommended Reading for Divorcing Families

Parenting After Divorce, by Phillip Stahl (published 2002 by Impact Publishers)
An easy read at a difficult time, with a focus on minimizing conflict between parents while strengthening your relationship with your children. Highly recommended reading for all parents.

Good Parenting Through Your Divorce, by Mary Ellen Hannibal (published 2002 by Marlowe & Company)
This wise and practical book is about doing divorce well, when our children are involved. It is about reorganizing the family, rather than losing the family, so we can meet the needs of our children and carry on the task of effective parenting. In the long run, how we as parents handle our divorce will be more important for our children than the fact of divorce itself.

Making Divorce Easier on Your Child, by Nicholas Long and Rex Forehand (published 2002 by Contemporary Books)

Caught in the Middle: Protecting the Children of High-Conflict Divorce, by Carla Garrity & Mitchell Baris (published 1994, available from Jossey-Bass Publishers)

Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends (2nd Edition), by Bruce Fisher (published 2003 by Impact Publishers)

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis & Sandra Blakeslee (published 2000 by Hyperion)

Creative Divorce, by Mel Kranztler

Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, by Richard Warshak (published 2001, HarperCollins Publishers)
There are also a number of children’s books available to assist parents on the "how to talk with your children" issues.

Dr. Graeme T. Clark
, Registered Psychologist
(#1199 College of Alberta Psychologists)

I draw on 30 years of diverse professional and personal experience, as well as extensive post-degree professional development, in all areas of my work as below:

Parenting Evaluations for matters related to family court (parenting time and responsibilities, access, and child protection)

Life Coaching for Professionals undergoing transitions, work challenges, relationship changes, mid-life questions, retirement planning, and the like

Psychotherapy for relationship and life transition issues (e.g., separation & divorce; bereavement, loss, trauma and health challenges; depression, anxiety and self-esteem issues)

Litigation Support for Family Lawyers

I have also done extensive TEACHING through the Centre and with St. Stephen’s College on the University of Alberta campus. At St. Stephen’s, I utilize my background in Qualitative Research (Hermeneutics, Phenomenology & Narrative) in Thesis supervision with both the Doctor of Ministry and the Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology & Counselling programs. As well, I teach two Master’s level courses, Grief and Loss, and Men’s Issues in Counselling, with the latter program.

Through the Centre I have done many WORKSHOPS on Stress Management; Grief, Bereavement & Traumatic Loss; Living with the Stress of Chronic Illness; Performance Coaching for Golfers; Life Transitions, and the like.

In addition to my private practice in Edmonton and area since 1991, I have worked at the Cross Cancer Institute, the University of Alberta Hospital, University Student Counselling Services, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Athabasca University, and Adult Probation Services for the Alberta Government. Beyond basic training in counselling, clinical assessment and research, my professional and personal development has included areas such as family therapy, custody evaluation, hypnosis, play therapy, bioenergetics, psychodrama, cognitive therapy, personality assessment, bereavement counselling, and treatment of trauma, among others.

I completed my Ph.D. (Counselling) from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, in 1993. My dissertation, Personal Meanings of Grief and Bereavement, was a study of complicated and traumatic bereavement. The majority of my doctoral studies focused on clinical psychology and assessment, counselling methods and psycho-educational assessment. I completed my doctoral internship in clinical psychology at the Misericordia Hospital. For my M.Ed. in Counselling (1981), also from the University of Alberta, I completed a thesis on Patterns of Family Interaction in the Context of Chronic Illness.

In addition to maintaining my credentials as a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists (#1199), I am a Member in good standing with the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, the American Psychological Association, the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the Alberta Roundtable on Family Law and the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (#04750).

As a co-founder of the Centre for Family & Health Psychology, I practice in association with a number of independent colleagues who offer counselling and consulting to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We work as a community of therapists, making team management decisions, providing collegial support, and organizing professional development opportunities. Our former on-site Massage Therapist, Pat Cherewick, continues to work therapeutically with some clients engaged in long-term psychotherapy at her independent office. Our Child Psychologists, Diane Priebe and Sherilyn Connor, are available for play therapy and Theraplay with children and parents, and several other therapists work extensively with adolescents, couples and families. Overall, the Centre provides a caring and stimulating home base from which to engage in my professional activities.

I have a strong commitment to ongoing personal and professional development. Each year, I attend one or two major workshops or conferences in current areas of interest. I learn a great deal from my colleagues at the Centre, all of whom are keen lifelong learners in their professional and personal lives. And of course my own life, with the losses and difficulties I have experienced over the years, has always been my strongest source of learning and understanding. In recent years, the challenges of family life, with my wife and I raising a son and daughter as older parents, have been rich sources of frustration, discovery and learning.

My full CV and a sample of my standard Retainer Agreement (for Custody/Access and related issues) are available to legal counsel upon request to I have qualified as an expert witness in both Alberta Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

Dr. Joanne Seitz, R. Psych., Clinical Psychologist
(#2243 College of Alberta Psychologists)

PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS: Custody, Parenting, Forensic Release/Risk, Competency, Neuropsychological screenings, Personality; Qualified as an expert witness in both Alberta Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.


THERAPY / COUNSELLING for Adults, Couples, Adolescents: Relationship Issues, Mental Health Concerns, Addictions, and Life Changes

Member in Good Standing

  • College of Alberta Psychologists
  • Psychologists’ Association of Alberta
  • Alberta Roundtable on Family Law
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology
  • American Psychological Association
  • Provincial Health Ethics Network

  • Professional Activities

    Professional Practice Advisor to psychologists (P.A.A.), current
    Board Member Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, (1999-2002)
    Clinical Research Ethics Committee Member, (1996-2002)
    Teaching/Supervision in C.P.A./A.P.A. accredited Predoctoral
    Internship Program (1997-2002)
    Teaching other professionals (Ethics, Personal Directives, Diagnostics)

    Professional History

    Private Practice since 1995
    Clinical Psychologist in adult psychiatry at Alberta Hospital Edmonton
    Research Associate, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton (1994)
    Doctoral Intern, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (1993-94)
    Clinical Psychologist, Adult Rehabilitation, Valley Mental Health,
    Kentville, Nova Scotia


    Doctor of Philosophy, Clinical Psychology, Dalhousie University,
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1995
    Master of Science, Clinical Psychology, Acadia University, Wolfville,
    Nova Scotia, 1988

    My full CV and a sample of my standard Retainer Agreement (for Custody/Access and related issues) are available to legal counsel upon request.