Psycho - Legal Services

In a past few decades, there are various changes brought in the legal system throughout the world. There were multi-disciplinary approaches adopted to refine the legal processes and make it more accessible to the masses to their specific problems.


In a past few decades, there are various changes brought in the legal system throughout the world. There were multi-disciplinary approaches adopted to refine the legal processes and make it more accessible to the masses to their specific problems. The purpose of the law movements is to find better solutions to individual’s problems, who are left with no option, but to take the help of law. Interaction with law has dual effect, that may be beneficial in protecting their person and property or cause psychological stress at the same time out of ignorance. One need to look at various options that suits his or her social, psychological and financial background. An un-biased Psycho-legal approach will help an individual who is going through emotional turmoil and unable to take decisions with regard to relationships in family or contracts.   The purpose of Psycho-legal approach is to maximize the benefits by expanding the options available to the beneficiaries, avoid prolonged litigation and live without stress and apprehensions

Meaning of Psycho-Legal issues
As the maxim goes” Ignorance of law is not an excuse” and this is the reason, people get anxious when legally questioned. There are three major areas that one need to understand while dealing with law, that affect a person psychologically. This could be termed as “Psycho-Legal”, which any civilian is supposed to know and be aware of Although each anxiety disorder has unique characteristics, most respond well to two types of treatment: psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” and medications. These treatments can be given alone or in combination. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, can help a person learn a different way of thinking, reacting and behaving to help feel less anxious. Medications will not cure anxiety disorders, but can provide significant relief from symptoms. The most commonly used medications are anti-anxiety medications (generally prescribed only for a short period of time) and antidepressants. Beta-blockers, used for heart conditions, are sometimes used to control physical symptoms of anxiety.

Self-Help, Coping, and Managing


  1. Psychology in Law – Relates to the state of mind of the litigant, as to how it affects his own perception, attention, cognition, emotion, intelligence, personality, towards the persons or property that he/she is claiming either at the stage of initial planning or during the legal battle.
  2. Psychology of Law – Relates to the study of various factors that influence the client-lawyer relationship. Several studies have been conducted to see, how the conduct and attitude of the lawyers, judges, the court-room environment and the legal processes influence the mind and decision making of the person seeking justice. The language and the legal terminology used to make the case more presentable and powerful, causes hatred, grudges, negativity and resentment among the individuals seeking justice. The cognitive heuristics (Short cuts) to settle the cases out of courts for personal gains and benefits of the professionals, all these affect the litigant/claimant/client life and peace of mind.
  3. Psychology and Law – This area studies the psychology behind the enactments and regulation of law. The principles on which law is formulated considers the socio-cultural aspects of that particular country. Some of these examples are related respecting the application of personal laws in the country, dowry prohibition, domestic violence, property distribution, joint family system, Mental status during Testamentary (Wills) of aged persons. etc;. Improper or misleading guidance deprives the clients with low level of confidence, confusions and distress.

Aim and objective of Psycho-legal solutions

We all strive to make life better and, in the process, earn and safeguard our properties as a security. Seeking legal help. To protect his/her person and property is inevitable in all stages of life. People become either over ambitious, aggressive, insecure, attached or escapists, in order to maintain their status and lifestyle. This causes a lot of emotional turbulences and cognitive distortions. It all takes a toll on their mental health if they are ignorant of law and not conscious about their rights. The developments happening in their court cases constantly triggers them psychologically. If this state is prolonged, as the litigations in India take very long time to settle, out of frustration it affects their overall personality. It shows minor or major symptoms of anxiety and depression among those who are undergoing such experiences.

The main aim and purpose of psycho-legal solutions/help desk is to create an awareness through psycho-legal knowledge about the methods that are applied by the criminal and civil justice systems. To give the clients a clarity of thought and expression by eliminating the errors and assumptions in their belief about the judicial system. This improves their power of decision making, increases the level of confidence and empowers them. It prepares them to face the life challenges independently and vigorously without fear and anxiety.

The purpose of the help desk is particularly to empower the masses to face the legal challenges. By any means the psycho-legal counselling or therapy do not intend to interfere with the legal and professional battle between the court-lawyer-client in any way. This kind of assistance will make the clients empowered to seed justice with confidence with clarity of thought and mind.

Psycho-legal solutions also help the professionals to present their case with more solid proofs before the courts. Such approach will open up new avenues to grow professionally in a right direction without avoiding or escaping from their obligations in the society. It works as a holistic and potential healing by forming relationships through broader participation while serving the community through the justice system.

Areas covered under Psycho-legal Help for the distressed

Legal awareness among the masses can avoid many complications even in an ordinary person’s life. Particularly, when it comes to deal with a psychiatric patient, the responsibility of the family members on whom

the patient depends, the society and the state are of utmost importance. Psychiatry comes in contact with the law in many ways in different fields and ignorance of law is not excusable. There are two divisions of law that needs to be understood by all those who are assisting the clients in the field of psychology.

Criminal Law and Psychiatry In India Section 84 of Indian Penal Code (Act.45 of 1860) speaks about liability of a person with unsound mind. A mentally ill person must satisfy that.
  1. That he/she was mentally ill or mentally challenged at the time of commission of the offence.
  2. This is categorized into as Under trial, Insane or Mentally ill during the trial.
  3. These three categories of persons are not exempted from the punishment, but are sent for rehabilitative processes.
  4. The onus to test, to certify and refer such accused forimprisonmentisontheState/Government.
  5. Judiciary is the ultimate decision-making authority.

II.Civil Law and Psychiatry

In case of criminal offence, the onus of proving inanity in a person is on the state, whereas in civil matters, the burden of proof is on the party who alleges, to prove sanity while entering in any contract. The defense of unsoundness of mind, while entering into various civil responsibilities between the individuals is taken in the following situations:

  1. Marriage Laws:
    Section 5 of Hindu Marriage act (Act 25 of 1955), introduced by Act 68 of 1976 states that
  2. Incapacity to give consent
  3. Suffering from severe mental disorders, incapable to procreate.
  4. Currently going through attacks of epilepsy.
  5. If the consent obtained by ‘fraud’.

Status in other religions:

  • Under the dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act. 1939:
  • Christian Law


The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. (Act 78 of 1956) say

  • Mental capacity to be eligible for adopting a child.
  • Consent of his wife is required.
  • Court declaration on unsound of mind of the spouse.
  • Status in different religions.
  • Mental statusoftheperson, giving the child in adoption.


Role of a Clinical Psychologists:

The professionals in Clinical Psychology are trained to examine the clients and patients undergoing severe mental illnesses and disorders of different age groups from Pediatrics to Geriatrics. The reports and certificates along with the Psychiatrists explain in detail about the stability of mind while entering into any contract within the family or outside the family. Their assistance in the following areas will help the clients in getting justice from the courts, to avoid litigation or to make judicious settlements out of court.
  1. Examination of Intelligence (IQ assessments)
  2. To examine the children with various types of disorders and developmental delays Mental retardation, Autism, Downs syndrome, Cerebral Palsy etc; as identified by the Disabilities Act be ruled out.
  3. Guiding clients in obtaining an Identity card from the respective authorities for prescribed benefits:

Person with unsound mind as a witness in the court:

As per Indian Evidence Act 1872, a person with mental illness or disorder is not considered to be competent to give evidence in the court, as he lacks an understanding a rational question or giving appropriate answers. (Section 118). All these again need a proof of mental and physical fitness by way of tests and certification from a Psychiatrist and therapies by the psychologists.

Testamentary capacity:

The regulations with regard to testamentary dispositions are laid in Indian Succession Act (Act 39 of 1925).
The person who is executing a Will must be of ‘sound and disposing mind’, and not being a minor. To test the capacity of a person the examiner needs to look at:

  1. An understanding of the nature of Will
  2. A knowledge of the property to be disposed of and
  3. Ability to recognize the capacity of those who has justifiable claims in his property.

How to examine:

  1. Detailed mental status examination
  2. Medical and Neurological conditions
  3. Suicidal tendency
  4. Status of alcohol or drug dependence.
  5. Influence of any care-takers other than the rightful claimants.

Transfer of Property, Contract and Driving: Section 7 of Transfer of Property Act deals with mental status of a person entering into sale or purchase of the property. The Indian Contract Act mentions about the capacity of a person as a ‘Major’ to be eligible to enter into a contract. The mental status of such persons is to be examined.


a)Distressed with litigation or in a dilemma to initiate

  • Those who are unaware about their legal rights and responsibilities, particularly in their family related problems individuals who are distressed with the attitude, beliefs and behaviors of their spouse or family members. Unable to take a decision whether to continue or break their relationship, as it may further complicate
  • Those who are not willing to share their feelings and problems, silently suffering, tolerating toxic behavior of the couples, lack of social, emotional and financial support and freedom, worried about the society, if they take any legal action.
  • Those who do not want to approach the court, want some amicable solutions to their problems, as they are aware of a few cases of their friends or relatives.
  • Those who are aware of laws, but unable to decide which solution is most safe and appropriate in their case, rather than invoking multiple provisions.

Unaware about the laws, and the procedures of the court

  • Unaware about the laws, and the procedures of the court: Those who have already approached the Police or court and feel they are unable to understand what is going to happen next.
  • Those who are unable to understand the processes going on in the courts, police station or the procedure followed in the courts.
  • Those who are changing lawyers, but not getting proper solution to their problems because of their changing versions and advises unable to choose the right option.
  • Unable to understand the language and terminology of law, though are well educated and get a feeling that they will never get justice in the courts.
  • Those who are well aware that they have a strong case, but are anxious when enter the court and while presenting before the judge or their own Lawyer.

Want to understand for who’s benefit laws are made

  • Those who want to know why the legal system is the way it is established?
  • Why the laws are more favoring women? Though there are several laws in favour of women, why are so many loop holes in law while implementing it?
  • Is there any end to litigation why the provision of appeal once decided in the lower court? Who will answer for the loss of time, money and mental peace suffered in court litigations

Points for consideration:

  • The team of experts on Psycho-legal therapist have authority, experience and exposure in both the fields of Law and Psychology.

  • All cases will be heard and dealt with absolute confidentiality with their consent and permission.

  • Psycho-legal Therapy/solutions could be a guide for a better understanding of their case with clarity.

  • The therapy is as a second opinion to clarify the doubts in the minds of the client who are not getting answers elsewhere. The ultimate decision is of the client, as the cases take different on twists and turn, depending on the situations.

  • The Psycho-legal therapy is designed to reduce the distress of the clients and empower them by creating legal awareness about law and equipping them in handling things independently rather than groping in darkness.

  • It is time saving, as the clients will get apt solutions from law and psychological healing. Can save money, by getting comprehensive solutions to both problems at one doorstep.

Note: The therapists do not entertain any case in the courts, nor give advises on legal aspects, but deal only with building confidence, empowering and give clarity on various amicable and peaceful options. The ultimate and final decision would be of the client.

We can think of following other options:

How to approach Help-line Creating legal awareness among the professionals Creating awareness among the masses Training for the resource persons to disseminate the Psycho-legal information

Is offering Psycho-legal help with

Clinical Psychologist & Legal Expert
CRR No.A58494
Marital & Psycho-legal issues.
M. Phil Cl. Psy – CASR-OU
LL.M – OU.
Contact: RCC