Medico-Legal Reports

Dr Mark Tunbridge Medico-Legal Fields of Practice

1. Care & Contact (Custody & Access) Assessment

Dr. Mark Tunbridge conducts assessment in cases where there is a complex dispute involving minor children. This may involve ascertaining which parental home would serve as primary residence for the child/children following a divorce. Or the evaluation may be related to other family concerns and problems, such as the adoption or fostering of children, violence, sexual or physical abuse or psychiatric illness in a parent, or any other issue which requires evaluation of parenting capacity and the psychological wellbeing of children.

A Care & Contact (Custody & Access) assessment typically involves the following:

  • Psycho-diagnostic assessment of the child/children
  • Psychological profiling of the parents/caregivers
  • Parenting Capacity assessment of the parents/caregivers
  • Home visits
  • Consultations with collateral sources

Dr. Tunbridge has specialist training and experience (Canada 2004/5) in child Care & Contact (Custody & Access) evaluation with severely dysfunctional parents and families.

Dr Tunbridge provides pre- and post-divorce counselling to all family members, to assist them in optimally adjusting to their new family structures. In these complex family situations, it is especially helpful to have a team of psychologists working together. Many of our Associates are, therefore, also specialists in divorce and other family adjustment matters, and form co-therapy teams where useful. Our multi-disciplinary approach has been specially structured to cater for the assessment, treatment and management of complex family situations, to ensure best outcomes.

Dr. Tunbridge has worked extensively with child abuse in clinical practice and can assess young victims for harm and treatment planning, as well as their family circumstances, and their adult offenders. Many of our Associate Psychologists also have specialist training and experience in child abuse matters.

2. Clinical Neuropsychological Assessment

Experts in clinical neuropsychology assess whether a head or other forms of serious injury have resulted in psychological deficits severe enough to support a civil court claim. In many cases, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may result following serious motor vehicle accidents (MVA). Legal damage claims might also be sought after physical assault, for instance, or injury through negligence.

Dr. Tunbridge received specialist training in clinical neuropsychology through Sherbrooke-Psychiatry, Royal Columbian Hospital, Vancouver, Canada (2003). He is registered as a Full Member (Reg. No. 602) with the South African Clinical Neuropsychological Association (SACNA). Many of our Associate Psychologists also have specialist training in clinical neuropsychology. For further information on the complex field of clinical neuropsychology, you can visit SACNA’s website by clicking on the following link: Dr Tunbridge’s experience as an Educational Psychologist makes him especially useful for all matters regarding educational rehabilitation and planning in context of clinical neuropsychological assessment e.g. post-traumatic head injury e.g. MVA; neurological disease e.g. Diabetes, Endocrinal anomalies etc.; or any clinical fallout as a function of neuropathology e.g. strokes, aneurysms etc. 

3. Child & Youth Forensics

Medico-legal evaluation may be necessary where young people have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused. In these cases, both the young person, the victim, as well as the perpetrator/s of the abuse, are assessed by psychologists. Our expert testimony and evidence is provided to the court, which, together with other information, is used to decide on the necessary treatment, management and legal consequences of each specific case.

We also provide psychological profiling of underage legal offenders - regarding theft, violence, murder or drug-related offences, for example. The information psychologists provide as expert witnesses assists the court in both their legal proceedings, and in making rehabilitation-related decisions in the young person’s best interests, while also taking the needs of society into consideration.

Dr. Tunbridge received specialist training in both Canada and South Africa in the evaluation of child and youth forensic concerns; specifically, in child and youth psychopathology in Canada (Child & Youth Mental Health Services (Outpatient Clinic), 2002), and in child abuse - sexual, physical and emotional - through the University of the Western Cape (1996). He also worked with youth offenders and their families through the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver in Canada (2004/5). He provides youth offender profiling, as well as treatment planning and recommendation.

Dr. Tunbridge has worked extensively with child abuse in clinical practice and can assess young victims for harm and treatment planning, as well as their family circumstances, and their adult offenders.

Many of our associates are also specialists in forensic assessment, providing services for both young people as well as adults.

4. Work Capacity

Health-related issues more generally, and mental illness more specifically, can seriously affect workplace adjustment. This may be reflected in loss of productivity; loss of efficiency; greater absenteeism; interpersonal conflict, as well as possible anger and hostility towards management and co-workers, and even clients. Psychiatric illnesses are increasingly being recognized as an important cause of work impairment, probably because their prevalence is rising due to greater awareness of their impact. Psychological adjustment to chronic illness may also pose a serious problem for work capacity.

Our team of psychologists are able to assess whether the health impairment (physical and/or mental) significantly affects the employee’s activities of daily living, social functioning, concentration, adaptation, motivation, efficiency and accuracy, as well as their overall work capacity. 


Lisa Wolfaardt Medico-Legal Fields of Practice

Lisa Wolfaardt in her role as Clinical Psychologist has a keen interest in psycho-legal assessments such as family cases, criminal cases, and victims and perpetrators. At Valkenberg, she conducted assessments for the court to determine criminal capacity and assess fitness to stand trial, and conducted both individual and group therapy with forensic patients. Lisa completed her community service at Pollsmoor Correctional Facility at the Maximum Security prison where she worked with remand detainees.

Psycho-legal assessment:

Psycho-legal assessment refers to when psychological knowledge is applied within a legal context. Some individuals may refer to this as forensic psychology. Lisa has a keen interest in psycho-legal work, and provides psycho-legal assessment reports intended for the court as requested by legal professionals on behalf of third parties, individuals or families.

Types of Psycho-Legal work:

1. Criminal Cases

Forensic and psycho-legal work is usually requested by a legal practitioner or by the court to evaluate an accused in a criminal matter. Grounds for referral are usually as a result of evidence that suggests that the accused’s criminal capacity at the time of the offence may have been affected by mental illness or defect, or factors regarding the defendant’s mental state in court.

Psycho-legal reports with regards to criminal cases have the following functions:

  • To assist the court in determining the mental state of a defendant, and to determine whether an individual is fit or unfit to stand trial; 
  • Determining criminal capacity – Is the individual able to appreciate the wrongfulness of their actions and are they able to act in accordance with this appreciation?
  • Providing the court with presentencing evaluation regarding the accused as measures of aggravation or mitigation in their case.

2. Victims and perpetrators

Focusing on the harm done to victims. After victimisation, the victim might have different needs to restore the physical, psychological and financial harm that was done to them and also to restore their image of themselves and the world around them. Physical and psychological treatment might be needed to heal and to deal with mental health problems.


3. Family Cases

During divorce disputes, a psychologist can play an important role in the evaluation of families. The psycho-legal report aids the family advocate and the court by making recommendations regarding residence, care, contact and maintenance. Here, focus is placed on the best interests of the child and the various factors influencing their relationships with their caregivers. The psycho-legal evaluation includes the scientific evaluation of the relevant family members, their behaviour, their roles, functioning and interaction.

Psycho-legal reports with regard to family cases include the following:

  • care and contact disputes,
  • guardianship disputes,
  • parental alienation,
  • abduction during divorce,
  • parenting plans,
  • re-integration therapy,
  • surrogacy assessments,
  • allegations of sexual abuse in care and contact disputes.
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