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The Utility of the Trauma Symptom Inventory as a Primary and Secondary Assessment Instrument (1 CE)


This paper examines the utility of the Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 (TSI-2) and its predecessor, the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) in forensic psychology practice. The instrument’s psychometric properties, use with special populations, legal case review and admissibility considerations are discussed. Recommendations regarding the strengths and limitations of the TSI/TSI-2 are suggested for forensic practitioners and lawyers. Considerations related to potential expert witness cross-examination are also presented. Psychological research and legal review suggest that the TSI/TSI-2 is admissible as an instrument under the Daubert Standard, especially as related to civil court disability claims. Still, lingering issues with the ATR validity scale remain and there is limited independent research establishing the predictive and discriminant validity of the TSI-2 across diverse forensic samples. In summary, this suggests the instrument is most effective as part of a comprehensive assessment battery for identifying PTSD symptomology within legal proceedings where a trauma diagnosis is relevant.

Goals and Objectives

  1. Identify the forensic applications for using the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) in legal settings.
  2. Compare the past 20 years of TSI use in legal settings as relevant to admissibility standards.

Skill Level 

Graduate Level Psychology


Image of Paul ArbisiPaul Arbisi, PhD, ABAP, ABPP | Minneapolis VA Health Center and University of Minnesota

Dr. Arbisi obtained his doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota.  He has been a Staff Psychologist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center since 1990 and is a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Arbisi has published extensively on the use of the MMPI instruments in psychiatric and medical settings and in the detection of malingering of psychiatric illnesses and chronic pain.  In addition, he has published articles and book chapters related to the assessment of disability caused by PTSD and psychiatric illness.   He was involved in the development of MMPI scales including the F-p scale, the Restructured Clinical (RC) Scales, and the Fs scale.   He provided consultation and advice to the authors throughout the development of the MMPI-2 RF and MMPI-3.  He is currently involved in funded research designed to identify risk and resilience factors in National Guard soldiers who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Dr. Arbisi is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and currently serves as Treasurer for the Society of Personality Assessment and the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12). Dr. Arbisi also has a medico-legal private practice where he conducts Independent Psychological Evaluations in the context of disability claims resulting from emotional or psychological injury.

Image of Melissa JohnMelissa A. John, MS, Esq | Carlow University 

Melissa John, M.S., Esq. is a licensed attorney in the state of Pennsylvania.  She holds a master's of science degree in school psychology and is currently completing her doctoral degree through Carlow University’s Counseling Psychology Program.  Her legal experience includes over two decades of trial work in indigent criminal defense and child advocacy. Ms. John is currently Chief of Investigation for the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  In this role, she is involved in criminal defense fact investigation, mitigation investigation, and sentencing advocacy and coordinates the fact and mitigation investigation of the trial investigation unit staff at the FPD, WDPA.

Image of Joseph RobertsJoseph M. Roberts, PhD | Carlow University

Joseph Roberts Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania.  He holds a master’s degree in social work, a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from West Virginia University, and post-doctoral certificates in forensic psychology through St. John’s University.  Dr. Roberts has taught psychology and criminology courses across undergraduate and graduate programs at Carlow University for the past fifteen years.  He has also worked in clinical practice for nearly two decades, with a focus on psychological assessment in all its myriad forms.

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