Throughout the past 20 years, Dr. Marcela Bonafina has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment of Spanish monolingual and Spanish-English bilingual clients. Given the distinctive nature of this population and the specific training needed to interpret the psychological and neuropsychological test results and other sources of information, a unique background is needed to ensure a highly comprehensive and competent bilingual and cross-cultural assessment of these clients.
A comprehensive assessment must rely upon both history and testing. These instruments must be standardized with the appropriate populations. Fluency in the client’s language is crucial to obtain valid results. Legal cases can be misdirected using instruments poorly translated from English to Spanish, by the application of inappropriate reference norms, and by the lack of familiarity with the client’s specific dialect and culture.
Dr. Bonafina's practice offers lawyers an exceptionally rare knowledge that combines expertise in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and cross-cultural psychology, which ensures an ethical evaluation and testimony.
Her practice provides the highest level of excellence and integrity in the evaluation of clients of the Hispanic community by routinely relying on tests standardized among Spanish-speaking subjects living in the United States. Dr. Bonafina offers lawyers an exceptionally rare knowledge that combines expertise in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and cross-cultural psychology, which ensures an ethical evaluation and testimony.
Objective record review and analysis
A detailed client, witnesses, and third-party interviews
Bilingual, cross-cultural, competent psychological and/or neuropsychological assessment
Live and video deposition
Live and video testimony
Preparation of lawyers for cross-examination of opposing expert
Dr. Bonafina routinely performs comprehensive evaluations in the office or at detention centers for refugees, asylum seekers, and torture survivors.
In criminal litigation, her expertise may be used to assist in determining competency to stand trial, issues of responsibility for the crime, or during the process of sentencing and mitigation.
Why was started the practice started?
Despite the growing field of Forensic Psychology and Forensic Neuropsychology, the lack of expert witnesses serving the Hispanic community is alarming. In most cases, lawyers have to utilize psychologists that do not speak Spanish with fluency and clinicians who use translators, a definitely inappropriate practice to conduct interviews and do testing. The lack of suitable cross-cultural, fluent bilingual experts with solid knowledge of psychology and neuroscience to ensure an adequate consultation, evaluation, and deposition, generates questionable ethical issues and leads to the mismanagement of cases.
What types of cases can her practice assist?
The practice is highly specialized in the assessment of Hispanic clients in issues involving Traumatic Brain Injury, Dementia, Toxic Exposure, Childhood Head Injury, Dementia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Competence, Insanity, and Diminished Capacity. Given her optimum degree of bilingualism, even in cases of unclear linguistic dominance (Spanish versus English versus Both), Dr. Bonafina's assessments can ensure valid results to use in the courtroom.
Are all cases accepted for review?
No. There are times when the facts of the case are clearly lacking merit. In such cases, the referring attorney will be contacted immediately. If the case is accepted, Dr. Bonafina will contact the referring lawyer and she will be retained after signing a written agreement.
If a case is located in a place different than Washington, D.C. or the state of New York travel can be arranged based on a previous agreement.