Nuts and Bolts of Testifying as an Expert Witness

Forensic psychologists spend most of their time preparing to testify in the cases on which they work. However, this workshop will prepare them in the eventuality they may be called to the witness stand (or deposition) and sworn in to give testimony. Here we will go over the basic rules for preparation, direct testimony and cross-examination when giving testimony including proper attire and response styles. We will also provide concrete examples of ways to respond to aggressive cross examination regarding fees, basis for conclusions, and the use of psychological testing and choose some scenarios and role play possible responses to these and other complex situations. Ethical issues that may arise such as how to handle an opposing expert’s testimony will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will be able to:

  1. Cite the different parts of expert witness sworn testimony.
  2. Describe the difference between direct testimony and cross-examination.  
  3. Choose a scenario that is complex and select an appropriate response style.
  4. Learn effective techniques to defuse aggressive cross examination.
  5. Respond to ethical issues that arise during the trial.


Shapiro, D. & Walker, L. (2019). Forensic practice for the mental health clinician. New York: TPI

Walker, L.E., Shapiro, D.L. & Akl, S. (2020). Introduction to forensic psychology: Clinical & Social Perspectives. Second Ed. New York:Springer Nature