“We need psychologists in the law courts” – Consultant

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Ho, June 6, GNA – Reverend Albright A. Banibensu, Lead Consultant, Bridge-PIC, providers of biopsycho social services, an emerging health model, is calling for the engagement of counselling psychologists at the law courts to enhance justice delivery.
He attributed the growing lack of confidence in the judicial system and ‘hatred for the court’ to the absence of services of counselling psychologists and said it was time the country considered their attachment to the courts.

Rev. Banibensu, a licensed Psychologist, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Ho, said after each court session, all parties needed to be helped to deescalate, and that, it was also important to assist both plaintiffs and defendants to be in the best frame of mind before presenting their cases.

He said after judgement, losers needed to be taken through brief “solution focused behaviour” therapy to manage the loss successfully without resorting to “unnecessary appeals” and antagonizing opponents and the judicial system.

Rev. Banibensu said in some cases, judges and lawyers could also be given “General Assessment of Functioning”-(GAF) to easily identify “psychological red flags”.
“Our judges too need help. It is not easy to pass judgment in some cases. Often, they make statements in judgments that could cause psychological damage and we can measure this damage with psychometric tools,” he stated.

Mr Nelson Kporxa, Volta Regional Secretary, Ghana Bar Association, said though efforts were being made to demystify the courts, services of counselling psychologists may be needed for juvenile trials.

“Some people say our wigs and gowns are intimidating, but the courtrooms are a bit friendly now. Evidence is given on paper and filed in court. We are also trying to take out the wig in district courts,” he said.

Mr Simon Adatsi, Volta Regional State Attorney, said the services of psychologists and other professionals were needed in courtrooms but they could not be engaged by the court permanently.

He said the practice was for the courts to invite such professionals when their services were needed.

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