Statement of the Psychological Association of the Philippines about Maria Lourdes Arellano-Carandang

Posted May 25, 2011 by papnews
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Recent events have put the work of psychologists in the public realm, in particular, the work of  Dr. Maria Lourdes A. Carandang who is a Fellow, Certified Specialist in Clinical Psychology, Certified Specialist in Counseling Psychology, Certified Specialist in Developmental Psychology, and former President of the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

All members and certified psychology specialists of the Psychological Association of the Philippines are guided by the Code of Ethics for Philippine Psychologists and are called to uphold themselves in the highest possible levels of professionalism in their various functions as psychologists.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines acknowledges that Dr. Maria Lourdes A. Carandang is one psychologist who has adhered to the highest professional standards throughout her career that has spanned three decades. She has served the psychology community in many important ways over many years, and has been an advocate of continuing professional development of psychologists in the country. Aside from her contributions to the Psychological Association of the Philippines, she has also rendered service to various institutions, such as the Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines-Diliman, and Cardinal Santos Medical Center. She pioneered play and family therapy in the Philippines.  She is the Founding Chair and Past President of the Philippine Association for Child and Play Therapy, and the Founding Chair and President of the MLAC Institute for Children and Families, Inc.  Dr. Carandang has also served as a consultant to various government and non-government organizations and other national and international agencies on intervention projects and research for children and families, e.g., Australian-AID, International Catholic Child Board, International Labor Organization, UNICEF, and UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

Dr. Carandang has written 12 books on the situation of Filipino children and their families that have been used as important resources by practicing Filipino clinical psychologists and others who are in the helping profession as well as by parents. Among these are Filipino Children under Stress: Family Dynamics and Therapy (1987); Children in Pain: Studies on Children who are Abused and are Living in Poverty, Prison and Prostitution (2002); Self-worth and the Filipino Child (2004); The Path to Healing: A Primer on Family Violence (2004); and The Magic of Play: Children Heal through Play Therapy (2009).

For her various outstanding contributions to Philippine psychology, Dr. Carandang has been conferred the Outstanding Psychologist award by the Psychological Association of the Philippines (1988).  She has been honored as a National Social Scientist by the Philippine Social Science Council (1995).  The citation for the latter distinction states that the honor was being conferred on Dr. Carandang  “for outstanding  achievement in the discipline of psychology as demonstrated by her competence and ability at applying and translating scientific principles of psychology for the uplift of Filipino children in difficult circumstances; for her commitment and dedication to the community at large; …for enhancing family life through educational use of mass media and contributing to training of future psychologists.”

For the past three decades, Dr. Carandang has remained one of the most prominent and highly-esteemed clinical psychologists in the country. The Psychological Association of the Philippines is issuing this statement so that the public may know that Dr. Carandang has consistently embodied the highest levels of professionalism and ethical practice in her various functions as a psychologist in the Philippines. (PAP Statement, May 4, 2011)


Posted April 12, 2011 by papnews
Categories: Announcements

1-YEAR PERIOD (April 2011-March 2012):

Ateneo Center for Organization Research and Development (CORD)

Center for Family Foundation, Inc. (CEFAM)

Dayan’s Psychological Center

Department of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila University

MLAC Institute for Children and Families

Philippine Association for Child and Play Therapy (Philplay)

Psychological Resources Center

Psychology Department, De La Salle University Manila

UP Department of Psychology

3-YEAR PERIOD (April 2011-March 2014):

Allied Mental Health (Volunteer Service) of the Section of Psychiatry, Makati Medical Center

Metropolitan Psychological Corporation

Miriam College, Department of Psychology and Integrated Lifestyle and Wellness (ILAW) Center

PsychConsult Inc.

Saint Louis University, Sunflower Children’s Center

Silliman University, Department of Psychology

The Carl Jung Circle Center, Inc.

48th Annual PAP Convention, Iloilo August 2011: ABSTRACT GUIDELINES AND SUBMISSION Deadline of Submission: 15 March 2011

Posted February 26, 2011 by papnews
Categories: Announcements, Conferences

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Abstracts for the 48th PAP Annual Convention are invited for
submission in the following categories:
1. Paper/Poster abstracts can be submitted for presentations of
empirical research papers, theoretical/concept papers, or papers
documenting practice. No research proposals will be accepted
(empirical research must have been completed and have not been
published). The paper abstract word limit is 250-300.

2. Abstracts for presentation in a symposium can be from empirical
research papers, theoretical/concept papers or papers documenting
practice. Papers in a symposium will be limited to 3-4. The word limit
for symposium abstracts is 250-350, and the word limit for paper
abstracts in the symposium is 150.

For paper/poster abstracts, please fill out the paper abstract form.
For a panel or symposium, please fill out the symposium abstract form.
Abstract forms (sent to the pap e-group) should be emailed to

Deadline for submission is March 15, 2011.

All abstracts will be evaluated by members of the Scientific Program
Notification of acceptance will be on April 15, 2011. In case more
than 1 paper is accepted, please note that each participant may
present only one paper or one symposium.



Posted January 28, 2011 by papnews
Categories: Announcements, Conferences

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) has long advocated for a law that will ensure the quality of the practice of psychology. In the early 1980s, the PAP moved for a bill requiring licensure for practitioners of psychology with the Batasan Pambansa. After three decades, a bill regulating the practice of psychology was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. On March 16, 2010, Republic Act 10029 or the “Philippine Psychology Act of 2009” was signed into law.

The 2011 PAP Annual Convention will focus on the meaning of RA 10029 and its implications to Filipino psychologists especially those engaged in the practice of assessment, counseling, and clinical psychology. Likewise, the implications of RA 10029 to Filipino psychologists in all areas of specialization will be discussed. The convention will highlight how the new law will shape and impact the future of psychology in the Philippines, including the teaching of psychology, the conduct of licensure examinations, and the implementation of regulatory measures. It is the hope of the PAP that the new law will promote excellence in the practice of psychology.

The PAP invites psychologists, both scholars and practitioners, to share their work on any area of psychology through paper presentations, poster presentations, and panel or symposia. With the focus on the practice of psychology, the PAP especially welcomes papers by practitioners in the different areas of psychology. Theoretical papers, empirical research papers, and papers documenting practices may be submitted for presentation.

The Scientific Program Committee will issue the guidelines and forms for submission of abstracts by 14 February 2011. Kindly wait for further announcements. All abstracts for paper presentation must be submitted by 15 March 2011.



Posted January 17, 2011 by papnews
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Psychological Association of the Philippines President Dr. Maria Caridad Tarroja, Vice President Dr. Mira Ofreneo, and Board Member Mr. Jay Yacat joined eight other officers and members of national psychology organizations from three other Southeast Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia) and three East Asian nations (India, China and Pakistan) in a one and a half day capacity building workshop on Developing Psychology at a National Level. This workshop was organized by the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS).

Status of National Psychology Organizations in Southeast Asia

Prof. Pam Maras

Chair of the National Capacity Building Work Group


Prof. Maras led the participants in surfacing issues that national psychology organizations in Southeast Asia grapple with. Membership is a priority issue (attracting and engaging members, member benefits). Other identified challenges pertain to organizational development: funding, staffing, capacity building and continuing education.  Important key issues include:

  • Lack of services to public
  • Culture sensitive applicability of acquired skills and knowledge
  • Education of the public about value and application of psychology
  • Relationship with other disciplines
  • Need for collaboration among psychological organisations

However, despite these challenges, all organizations rely on the commitment and hard work of their existing members. Another important resource is the leadership and guidance of their more senior and well-established members.

An important observation is that the organizations are at different stages in their development (with some organizations existing for almost fifty years while others are in the process of formalizing its structures).

The importance of regulation and licensing of psychologists was a focal point in the discussions. Among the participating nations, only the Philippines has successfully passed a regulatory law. While Prof. Maras underscored the importance of having such a law, she strongly encouraged national organizations to critically reflect on their possible roles in the implementation. She warned that it might be taxing for organizations’ resources to be involved in the actual implementation of the regulation.

In summary, Prof. Maras identified possible roles and functions for national psychology organizations:

  • Maintain the significance of psychology as a science
  • Use psychological science for public good
  • Public understanding and engagement of psychology
  • Influence government on national and international policy
  • Promote and support psychology and psychologists
  • Membership services and organization
  • Education and quality assurance
  • Publication and research

ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) and National Psychology Organizations

Dr. Allan B.I. Bernardo

President, ARUPS

ARUPS is a union of national associations in Southeast Asia. Dr. Bernardo provided the history, aims and activities of ARUPS. He asked the participants to think about how ARUPS can address the development needs of their respective national associations.  He led the discussion of four issues: promoting communication and cooperation between member countries; training, qualifications and status; research, application and practice; research, application and practice; and dissemination of psychological knowledge.

Cooperation and communication Training, qualification and status
  • Regularly updated website to support national associations (bulletin boards, forum)
  • Faculty exchanges or study tour
  • Documenting lessons learned or good practices by member associations in similar issues (eg., dealing with the government)
  • Regional associations reaching out to emerging national associations (e.g., informing national associations on international standards)
  • Reaching out to non-psychology professional associations (e.g., psychiatry, guidance and counselling, psychotherapy)
  • Identification of possible contact persons from associations from other regions
  • Appoint a liaison officer among national presidents
  • Internet-based communication
  • Include department, colleges, university


  • Develop or come up with a set of competencies expected for undergraduate psychology students, psychology practitioners, researchers, educators (competency vs educational attainment model)
  • Recognize exemplary programs of psychology
  • Support the efforts to educate the public (general public, government and other professions) about the functions of psychologists
  • Disseminate success of psychologists in the public sphere (policy level)
  • Support efforts for national regulation and recognition of psychologists


Research, Application and Practice Dissemination of Psychological Knowledge
  • Come up with a network/directory of researchers and practitioners to facilitate possible collaborative work
  • Encourage international publishers to accept manuscripts in the local language and have local language editors
  • Support efforts to develop a research culture among national associations (e.g., encourage country members to explore locally relevant research topics, develop local measures)
  • Encourage international bodies to give a voice to and value locally-relevant research


  • Support capacity-building efforts by national associations to come up with peer-reviewed journal (e.g., have international experts to come in; provide writing workshops)
  • Engage publishers to support other means to disseminate evidence-based psychological knowledge



The Way Forward for National Associations

Elizabeth Nair, PhD

Dr. Nair asked the participants to think about the following: a) quality of psychology programs; b) challenges faced by practitioners; c) attracting international academics; and d) influence of psychology on public policy.

It was found that there are no existing accreditation systems among participating nations to ensure the quality of psychology programs (both undergraduate and graduate programs). This could be another area that ARUPS may focus on. Meanwhile, all participants see the importance of a regulatory system to ensure the quality of psychological practice.

The participants also admit that at present, except in Malaysia, there are no active steps in attracting outstanding international academics to teach or do research but recognize the potential of doing so in the development of the discipline.

Last, the participants also agree that there is a need to strengthen the influence of psychology in public discourse and public policy in their respective countries.

The status of global psychology

Sath Cooper, PhD

Dr. Cooper outlined several characteristics of contemporary global psychology which render non-Western psychologies at a disadvantage. These include:

  • Euro-American knowledge base, seminal research, standardized testing instrumentation
  • Boulder Model, feminization of psychology (psychology as becoming de-valued)
  • Peer-reviewed publications (skewed patterns), Citation: Impact factor
  • Influential textbooks, source materials
  • Policy impact, societal recognition, threat/fear factor
  • International visibility

However, he acknowledged that changing geo-political conditions highlight the need for non-Western psychologies to assert themselves in the world stage.

  • Conflict and crisis
  • Globalization and poverty
  • Economics of poverty and health
  • Development imperatives, resources priorities
  • Majority world representations
  • Human, socio-economic issues
  • Advances in brain and neuro-sciences

He also enumerated several features of national psychologies, especially in Southeast Asia, that may help in contributing to a truly global psychology: cultural diversity; indigenous experience; use of electronic communication; and sharing a time zone. Thus, it is important that national associations not only focus on strengthening its respective organizations but also reach out to other associations in the region in order to become a force in shaping the direction of a global psychology.

Statement of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) on the Proposed Guidelines in the Conduct of Psychological Examinations for Overseas Work Applicants Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2010-0022

Posted January 17, 2011 by papnews
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We, the Board of Directors of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP),* would like to commend the efforts of the Department of Health – Bureau of Health Facilities and Services (DOH-BHFS) “to provide quality, effective and efficient psychological screening services to overseas work applicants,” thus making this “one of the basic minimum requirements for accreditation of medical facilities for overseas workers and seafarers” (30 November 2010 Draft of Working Document for the TWG).   In the spirit of professional partnership, we would like to share our expertise in the area of psychological assessment to help meet the objective of delivery of quality psychological services to applicants.  With this end in mind, we would like to clarify the standards regarding the use of psychological tests as articulated in the PAP’s Code of Ethics. Pertinent sections of the Code which we subscribe to in our practice of assessment are quoted below and are used as basis for our comments about some proposed guidelines.


Section VII.A.1. The expert opinions that we provide through   our recommendation, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements are based on substantial information and appropriate assessment techniques.

Section VII.C.1. We judiciously select and administer only those tests which are pertinent to the reason for referral and purpose of the assessment.


We are not in agreement with the proposal to use only one objective personality test (i.e., the 16PF) to assess the applicants because this will not provide substantial information and, thus, goes against Section VII.A.1. A basic tenet of assessment is the selection of not one but several instruments to address a specific question (e.g., is the applicant fit for overseas work?). No single instrument can provide all the information needed to make an informed decision. We, therefore, recommend the use of a test battery which, at the minimum, should include two intelligence tests and two personality tests.  The choice of intelligence tests (ideally, one verbal and one non-verbal)  and personality tests  should be based on the reason for assessment and on other variables like the position applied for, the educational attainment of the applicant, etc. (Section VII.C.1).


We are aware that Section 2.1 of the 30 November 2010 draft  (Working Document for the TWG on “Formulation of Guidelines in the Conduct of Psychological Examinations for Overseas Work Applicants Pursuant to AO No. 2010-0022”)  which states that “the medical clinic shall use the DOH minimum battery and, whenever applicable, additional appropriate psychological examinations which will assure the quality of psychological results” does provide for the possibility of using more than one intelligence test and more than one personality test. However, it is very likely that only the proposed minimum will be used given the cost that additional tests will entail. What we then recommend is essentially a change in the currently proposed minimum.


Section VII.C.3. We use tests that are standardized, valid, reliable, and have normative data directly referable to the population of our clients.


Section VII.C. 1 (as explained above) with Section VII.C.3 guides our professional practice and we recommend that this be used as basis for choosing the tests.  In this regard, we would be interested to know about the reliability, validity, and normative data of the 16PF, especially its Filipino version. The question is not just for the 16PF but for any other test that might be considered as part of the test battery.


The proposal to take the 16PF online is related to the issue of validity. Do we get valid results when the test is taken online? Is it the same as answering the test in the clinic?  How many in the population of overseas work applicants are conversant with the use of the computer? We then recommend that the advantages and disadvantages of this proposal be evaluated.


We are also alarmed by the statistics on the volume of applicants handled everyday at the clinics. The number surely has an effect on the quality of the assessment process. How can a few psychometricians or psychologists in a clinic do a comprehensive interview of all the applicants?  Given the volume that undergoes psychological screening on a daily basis, one cannot help but arrive at the sad conclusion that psychological assessment is probably not given the importance it deserves.  We hope that some measures can be put in place to address this serious concern. We are therefore heartened by the directive of the DOH-BHFS to work out a reasonable ratio of psychologist/ psychometrician to applicants in the medical clinics.  In addition, we suggest a review of the scheduling of applicants who need to be assessed.  We believe that psychology practitioners in OFW clinics aim for quality outputs, and a manageable  psychologist/psychometrician: applicant ratio will help them achieve this objective.


Principle IV of our Code of Ethics states that “as a science and a profession, psychology has responsibilities to society. These responsibilities include contributing to the knowledge about human behavior and to persons’ understanding of themselves and others, and using such knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, families, groups, communities, and society.”


These responsibilities are even greater now because, while the Implementing Rules and Regulations of The Psychology Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10029) are not yet in place, the PAP has been approved by the Professional Regulation Commission as the interim professional organization that oversees the practice of clinical and assessment psychology in the country.


We are aware of the complexity of the problems that are related to the assessment process, and we remain open to collaborative endeavors to meet the objective of DOH-BHFS to improve the delivery of psychological services to overseas work applicants.



This PAP Board position was arrived at in consultation with the PAP Public Interest Committee, the PAP Assessment Division Chair, and the five signatories of the September 20, 2010 position paper who were invited by DOH-BFHS as resource persons in drafting the guidelines for testing overseas work applicants.


PAP Board of Directors

03 December 2010


* The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), a professional organization of psychologists founded in 1962, is committed to the promotion of excellence in the teaching, research, and practice of psychology. It is a non-stock, non-profit corporation whose national membership includes teachers, researchers, and practitioners of psychology. Its members adhere to the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists which recognizes that “ethics is at the core of every discipline.”

All Roads Lead to Iloilo in 2011

Posted December 14, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements, Conferences

Iloilo City is officially the host for the 48th Annual Convention of the Psychological Association of the Philippines, convention chair and PAP Vice President Dr. Mira Ofreneo made the announcement recently. Slated for August 17-20, 2011 with the theme “RA 10029: Promoting Excellence in the Practice of Psychology,” the host institution is Central Philippine University in Jaro, Iloilo City. A call for papers will come sometime in January and soon there will be more news about the convention in the PAP website. Meantime, please mark your calendars for this important annual event. (M. Udarbe, E.R.O.)

PAP is Hiring an Executive Director

Posted November 18, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements

Position Title: Executive Director
Organization: Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP)

The Executive Director is responsible for:

§ Overall leadership of PAP secretariat staff in the implementation of plans
and activities as instructed by the PAP Officers and Board of Directors.

§ Supervising the development and management of a membership database system in coordination with the Membership Committee.

§ Supervising the development and management of an online system of
application, renewal, and payment of membership.

§ Supporting the work of the Programs Committee by coordinating the secretariat work for conventions and CPE (continuing professional education) workshops.

§ Supporting the work of the Publications Committee, Ethics Committee,
Certification Committee, and other special and ad hoc committees, by
coordinating the secretariat work for these committees.

§ Performing other duties as may be assigned by the Officers of the PAP Board
of Directors.


The applicant must have an MA or be an MA candidate in any field of Psychology, with good
organizational management, administrative, oral and written communication skills and computer literate.

Administrative Details:

The Executive Director will report 2-3x a week (a total of 20 hours a week) to
the PAP secretariat office. The position is equivalent to a half-time job and
Initial contract is for a six-month period.

To Apply:

Interested individuals may email their application (cover letter) and CV to the
PAP Executive Secretary Dr. Angela V. Regala at and the PAP Secretariat at Deadline of application is December 3, 2010.


Posted November 2, 2010 by papnews
Categories: Announcements

The officers of the Psychological Association of the Philippines for 2010-2011 were elected by the Board of Directors in a meeting September 24, 2010 at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City. They are:

President: Dr. Ma. Caridad Tarroja
Vice President: Dr. Mira Alexis Ofreneo
Executive Secretary: Dr. Angela Regala
Treasurer: Dr. Carmencita Salonga
External Relations Officer: Dr. Margaret Udarbe-Alvarez

Similarly, in the absence of former PAP President J. Enrique G. Saplala, the board approved last July 3, 2010 that Dr. Allan B. I. Bernardo will serve as ex-officio of the PAP.


Posted September 19, 2010 by papnews
Categories: News & Events

by Gina Ylaya

In the Philippines, the psychologist’s traditional stomping grounds are the academe and private practice. In the past decade,  however, the intersection between psychology and the law has brought more and more psychologists into the arena of the legal profession. What may be considered the watershed moment for this was the enactment of the Family Code in 1987, which paved the way for the use of psychological incapacity as basis for providing  relief to couples in unhappy marriages (Jacob, 2010).  In the late 80’s, Philippine courts started to recognize the expertise of those whose professions (i.e., psychiatrists and clinical psychologists) made them ideally suited to explain human behavior in the forensic setting,  particularly for cases involving declaration of nullity of marriage. When the courts began tapping this specialized knowledge to shed light on the actions of those who appear before them, expert witnessing became a logical career trajectory for the psychologist already established in clinical practice.

Despite 20 years of such recognition, however, the field is still in its infancy (Jacob, 2010). The requirements for qualifying as an expert witness are stringent, but these have not been explicitly articulated in the form of policy or guidelines.  In the meantime, there is a growing number of individuals keenly interested in it as a career choice and have, in fact, already been appearing in court either as private practitioners or representatives of their respective institutions. They handle cases involving marital nullity, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, child and spousal abuse.  This new crop of budding expert witnesses look to the pioneers to mentor them. And the pioneers, concerned about the quality of professional training among these emerging aspirants, want to share knowledge and experience with them. This convergence of aspiration and expertise became the driving motivation behind this seminar.

With her experience as teacher, clinical psychologist, past president of the PAP and International Council of Psychologists, and expert witness in cases involving marital nullity, temporary protection order, custody, adoption, battered wife syndrome, and civil and criminal competencies, Dr. Natividad Dayan took on the task of seminar convenor. 


With Dr. Dayan, the Assessment and Clinical Divisions of the PAP set out to provide seminar participants/ psychologists with tools and techniques to be clinicians in court. Through lectures, mock trials, first-hand accounts of judges and lawyers on their experiences with expert witnesses, and a forum with expert witnesses, participants were taught what the courts expect of forensic psychologists.

Day 1:  Introduction to Family Law and Forensic Psychology Practice 36
Day 2:  The Expert Witness in Marital Nullity and Domestic Violence Cases 47
Day 3:  The Expert Witness in Child Custody Cases  40
Day 4:  The Expert Witness in Spouse/Child Abuse and Adoption Cases  41
Day 5:  Testifying in Court and Deposition 39


 Dr. J. Enrique Saplala opened Day 1 with the basics of forensic psychology, how it is distinguished from abnormal psychology, its historical antecedents, and how it is practiced in the country.  Putting the psychologist’s role in the larger context of the law,  Dr. Suzette Agcaoili presented The Pillars of the Justice System  (the community, law enforcement, national prosecution service, judiciary and dispute resolution, penal and correctional institutions).  Establishing the roots of the interface between psychology and the law,  Atty. Floranie Jacob delved into American and Philippine antecedents,  the scope of forensic psychology and the historical underpinnings of the declaration of marital nullity or Philippine-style divorce. 


What makes forensic psychology different from therapeutic psychology?  Dr. Dayan discussed the distinction, incorporating ethics into the discussion and taking up the psychologist’s role in a forensic scenario, its scope and limits, the preparation that goes into assuming such a role, including contractual agreements made at the outset with the lawyer and the client.

 Whose Client is Examinee? Mental health practitioner Lawyer or court
 Purpose Diagnose and treat symptoms of illness Assist decision-maker or lawyer;  aid court in making a decision
 Required Competency Therapy techniques for treatment of problem/ illness Forensic examination techniques relevant to legal claim
 Examiner – Examinee Relationship Supportive, accepting, empathic Objective or neutral stance
 Notification of Purpose Implicit assumptions about purpose shared by clinician and patient

Formal, explicit notification typically not done

Assumptions about purpose not necessarily shared

Formal and explicit notification required

 Amount and Control of Structure in Relationship Patient-structured and relatively less structured than forensic examination Examiner-structured and relatively more structured than therapy
 Response Style of Examinee  Assumed to be reliable  Not assumed to be reliable
Clarification of Reasoning and Limits of Knowledge  Optional  Very important
 Written Report Brief, conclusory

statement;  confidential

Lengthy and detailed (documents findings, reasonings, and conclusions);  everything revealed
 Court Testimony  Not expected  Expected


Dayan, Natividad.  Developing Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment/ Ethics. Powerpoint presentation,  April, 2010.    

Dayan, Natividad. Irreconcilable differences between therapeutic care and forensic examination relationships.  Child Custody. Powerpoint presentation, April 2010. 


 Marital Nullity: The decision rendered by the Supreme Court (known as the Molina decision) in 1997 made the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code more rigorous. The guidelines require that psychological incapacity  be proven by showing that one or both parties suffer from a “psychological disorder (that) existed at the time of the marriage;  that it continues to manifest itself in the marriage;  that it is serious and incurable;  that the roots of its origins can be clinically traced;  and that the same must be testified to by an expert” (Jacob, 2010).  When there is a breakdown in the elements that make for a successful marriage, how does one prove the existence of grounds for nullity? On Day 2, Dr. Dayan addressed this question,  focusing on three conditions required in the determination of the existence of a personality disorder: gravity, antecedence, and incurability.  Through testimonies of the parties and witnesses, official records,  a clinical interview (encompassing family background, courtship, and married life), and findings derived from objective and projective tests,  grounds for nullity are established.

 As co-author of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III,  Dr. Roger Davis zeroed-in on the nature of personality disorders.  It is not sufficient that the clinician knows how to identify and describe the personality disorder, but also how it manifests in and undermines the marital relationship. The MCMI-III’s theoretical underpinnings were discussed, as were its scales, structural and functional domains, diagnostic efficiency, general approaches to interpretation, and applications.

 While marital nullity cases, with some of its celebrity protagonists and accompanying media mileage, may have thrust the psychologist into the public arena,  the cases involving child custody, domestic violence, spousal and child abuse, and adoption are no less demanding of the psychologist’s expertise. As the persona of the child enters the picture, assessment skills focused on the child take center stage,  which, in the seminar,  became most evident in the mock trials on child custody and sexual abuse. Inputs on the clinical interview (by Ms. Zachele Briones), the country’s policies governing adoption (by Atty. Jacob, former Board Director of the Intercountry Adoption Board),  and the prosecution of child abuse and battered wife cases (by Atty. June Ambrosio) took up Days 3 and 4 of the seminar.


Four mock trials were conducted:  on marital nullity and temporary protection order (Day 2), child custody (Day 3), and sexual abuse (Day 4), with Dr. Arnulfo Lopez and  Dr. Natividad Dayan playing the expert witness role.  These were highly instructive and engrossing sessions that presented the expert witness, lawyers for the petitioner and opposing counsel, and a judge in a simulation of a Family Court proceeding using actual cases.  Seminar participants were shown court procedure and language, the phrasing of questions, direct and cross examination, challenges to expert witness credibility, and how an expert witness must comport himself/herself in the face of these challenges. The mock trials highlighted the importance of a solid foundation in clinical psychology and assessment techniques, a thorough case work-up,  a well-written report, confidence and composure under intense grilling.              

The participants were most animated when the resource person engaged them and vice versa. Their questions ranged from observations on the mock trials to real-life dilemmas they encountered in their practice.  Among the issues raised were: Do the courts have a ‘bias’ for psychiatrists as expert witnesses? Does the PAP have a policy on who can appear in court? How does one determine professional fees?  The legal practitioners, for their part, gave helpful pointers on the role, knowledge requirement, and professionalism expected of the psychologist-expert witness.


On the last day, the clinical psychologists took turns sharing their experiences and the accumulated wisdom and insights of years as expert witnesses.

Relationship with Clients and Colleagues:  Dr. Violet Bautista communicates to clients and legal practitioners that psychology is a profession and psychologists are professionals. To protect the integrity of the profession, one must make clear that the assessment process follows rigorous scientific standards as free from bias as possible, the report is not oriented to suit the interests of the client, and the psychologist is not at the client’s beck and call. To avoid confusing role requirements, she differentiates her role as therapist from that of expert witness. She has a  preference for working with clients to whom she is positively-predisposed and whose character she trusts, and finds helping those with limited financial means an “uplifting experience.” Moreover,  years of expert witnessing have led her to respect colleagues’ different assessment of the same case as one way, among many ways, of viewing reality.  

Preparing for Court Appearance:  Dr. Bautista’s preparation begins with writing a curriculum vitae that presents her credentials as relevant to the case she is handling because this is vital to the authentication of one’s qualifications. Because court appearances usually take place months after report submission, she makes sure she reviews the salient findings and conclusions the day before.  Dr. Claudette Agnes also emphasized the importance of being prepared and having mastery of the facts to avoid inconsistencies. Atty. Polly Dy walked the seminar participants through what to expect before a court hearing—from reviewing her report, anticipating cross examination grilling, meeting with lawyers, to what to wear and bring on the day itself.

Handling Cross Examination:   Atty. Floranie Jacob defined and explained the concepts of testimony, direct examination, cross examination, witness impeachment (for reasons of bias, inconsistent statements, character flaw, competency, and contradiction), and the do’s and don’ts of cross examination.  Focusing on cross examination,  Dr. Agnes also touched on being objective and authoritative and  coming across as credible in order to avoid being impeached.  Dr. Arnulfo Lopez reiterated that whatever responses are given in cross examination must have basis;   the clinical interview is a scientific method of gathering data and is not hearsay;  and the psychologist is the professional qualified to assess the presence of a personality disorder.  In the course of her work with the courts,  Dr. Bautista has been asked what books and articles she had published, what approach she used in analyzing the Rorschach,  how she was able to arrive at a diagnosis without seeing her client’s spouse, and whether what she diagnosed as personality disorders were merely lapses in judgment or indiscretions or bad habits.  All of which are attempts to discredit the testimony of the expert witness, and must be answered using one’s clinical expertise and with the self-assurance that comes from trust in one’s work.


 In the course of five days,  seminar participants were repeatedly reminded of the following salient points:  

 Keep in mind that the psychologist is a professional rendering expert judgment and testimony.

  1. Accept referrals only within your area of expertise.
  2. Clarify roles with the client and lawyer at the outset.
  3. Avoid the dual role of therapist and expert witness of the same client.
  4. Never compromise the integrity of the psychological report—the expert witness is  not hired to provide an assessment that is favorable to the client.
  5. Be thorough and specific in the report.  Expound on the results and particulars of the case.
  6. Know your subject matter.  Be sure of your findings and conclusions. 
  7. Stand by your psychological report;  in family cases, the decision hinges mostly on it.
  8. Be prepared to be challenged on your credentials, methodology, the validity and reliability of tests used, and conclusions reached.
  9. Be honest. Testify only on what you know.

Resource Persons / Clinical Psychology:  Agcaoili, Suzette, PhD;  Agnes, Claudette, PhD; Bautista, Violeta PhD;  Briones, Zachele Marie, PhD cand.;   Davis, Roger, PhD;  Dayan, Natividad, PhD;  Lopez, Arnulfo, PhD;  Saplala, J. Enrique, PhD 

 Resource Persons / Law:  Ambrosio, June (Lawyer);  Bobis, Hannibal (Lawyer);  De Guzman, Elsa (Judge);  Dy, Polly (Lawyer);  Galos, Heidi (Lawyer); Jacob, Floranie (Lawyer);   Soriano, Andres (Judge);  Tantuico, Fina (Lawyer), Villanueva, Candido (Judge)