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Forensic assessment of monolingual Spanish speakers: A survey of current practice

1 January 2016


There is a growing demand for culturally competent evaluations of monolingual Spanish speakers. However, little is known about the current state of the field of these types of evaluations in forensic settings. Sixty-eight psychologists with forensic evaluation experience who were licensed in 26 states and Washington D.C. participated in a study of their practices when conducting forensic assessments of monolingual Spanish speakers. Among other findings, results indicated that most participants (73.21%) were willing to accept referrals for monolingual Spanish-speaking evaluees, but they were less willing to accept such referrals than they were to accept referrals for English-speaking Caucasian/White, English-speaking African American, or English-speaking Latino evaluees. Similarly, although most participants believed they were culturally competent to perform forensic evaluations with monolingual Spanish speakers, they rated themselves as being less culturally competent with monolingual Spanish speakers than with English-speaking Caucasian/White, African American, or Latino evaluees. Self-ratings of cultural competence were significantly positively related to bilingual ability and experience conducting evaluations with monolingual Spanish speakers. The cultural values least familiar to participants were values that might be most likely to affect interpersonal interaction between the evaluator and evaluee, such as plática, simpatía, and personalismo. Cultural values related to beliefs, such as religious and spiritual beliefs, views on mental health, gender roles (machismo and marianismo), and the importance of the family (familismo) were more familiar to participants. Over half of participants (56.00%) indicated that they had encountered difficulty distinguishing between delusions and culturally appropriate beliefs; of note, there was no significant difference in this finding related to either participants’ language ability or number of evaluations conducted with monolingual Spanish speakers.


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