Dr. McLawsen provides psychological evaluations that guide legal decision-makers. Her practice focuses on evaluations for immigration contexts, with special emphasis on I-601 extreme hardship waivers and Adam Walsh matters. Dr. McLawsen communicates with the attorney involved in the matter to ensure that she provides an evaluation tailored to the legal issues at hand.

Once the evaluation is complete, Dr. McLawsen drafts a comprehensive report that typically ranges from 10 to 15 pages. Work samples are available on request. She is available for follow-up consultation with the attorney involved to answer questions about the report.


Dr. McLawsen is licensed to practice psychology in the State of Washington. Additionally, she is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia, Canada.


Dr. McLawsen graduated from Stanford University in 2002, earning a BA in psychology in three years, focusing on neuroscience. She earned her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, one of the country's most respected forensic psychology programs. Dr. McLawsen's doctoral thesis examined how different states implement sex offender civil commitment laws.

Professional experience

  • IMA Solutions. Dr. McLawsen conducts independent comprehensive psychological evaluations to address a wide range of referral questions posed by attorneys, insurers, and employers. Dr. McLawsen's evaluations include diagnostic formulations, psycholegal analysis, and -- when relevant -- evidence-based treatment recommendations and recommendations regarding workplace accommodations. 
  • Pierce County Competency Panel. Dr. McLawsen is one of a handful of psychologists contracted by Pierce County to assess capacities relevant to criminal defendants' competence to proceed to trial. She regularly evaluates criminal defendants at the Pierce County Jail and provides reports to Pierce County Superior and District Courts.
  • Western State Hospital. Dr. McLawsen is a former forensic evaluator for one of Washington State's two psychiatric hospitals. Her work focused on providing forensic psychology evaluations for use in civil commitment proceedings, competency hearings, and assessment of "not guilty by reason of insanity" matters. Dr. McLawsen provided evaluations to courts on a weekly basis and testified in scores of cases. 
  • Washington State Special Commitment Center. Dr. McLawsen provided sexual violence risk evaluations for individuals detained on McNeil Island and in assorted secure transition facilities. Evaluations focused assessing future risk for sexual violence. This experience, along the focus of her doctoral thesis, informs Dr. McLawsen's assessment of subjects in Adam Walsh Act immigration matters.
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Centre of Vancouver. Dr. McLawsen performed diagnostic assessments along with individual and group therapy. This therapy experience strengthens Dr. McLawsen's ability to provide accurate diagnostic formulations and to recommend state of the art, evidence-based psychological treatment.

University affiliations

  • Clinical Instructor, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
  • Clinical Associate, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Colombia

Dr. McLawsen's full profile is available here.

Forensic evaluations versus therapy.

Most psychologists are trained to provide therapy that helps clients recover from mental illness. A small subset of psychologists specialize in providing evaluations for use in legal proceedings - these are called "forensic" psychologists. Forensic psychologists are trained to understand the legal process and conduct a psychological assessment that is relevant to the legal issue(s) in question. An evaluation will not be helpful for a legal process unless it assists the legal decision maker. Specialized training ensures that forensic psychologists provide clinical information that is relevant to the legal context.

Immigration law evaluations.

Dr. McLawsen performs comprehensive psychological evaluations for subjects in a variety of immigration law settings. Dr. McLawsen has published a peer-reviewed article that establishes best practice standards for "extreme hardship" evaluations, and has co-presented  post-doctoral training seminars on this topic. She recently published a peer-reviewed article that offers guidance on how people with a history of self-injury can overcome the mental health inadmissibility bar. She is actively working on research related to other psychological issues in immigration law. Areas of Dr. McLawsen's expertise include:

  • Extreme hardship evaluations (I-601, I-601A, J-1 waivers, I-751 waivers).
  • Non-LPR cancellation of removal.
  • VAWA self-petitions.
  • I-751 waivers based on abuse.
  • U-Visa petitions.
  • Adam Walsh Act sexual recidivism risk and rehabilitation.
  • Violence risk and rehabilitation.
  • Alcohol and substance use rehabilitation.
  • Overcoming inadmissibility due to self-injury.
  • Exception to English and/or civics requirement for naturalization due to developmental delay or mental illness (N-648 waivers).

Evaluations in criminal cases.

Dr. McLawsen routinely performs evaluations and provides depositions and courtroom testimony in criminal matters, including:

  • Competence to proceed.
  • Diminished capacity.
  • Not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Mitigation.

Other types of evaluations.

  • Competence to testify as a witness.
  • Diagnostic formulation and treatment recommendations.

Civil litigation expert disclosure reports

  • Wrongful death.
  • Applicable standard(s) of care.
  • Psychological damages. 

How is an evaluation prepared?

An evaluation typically involves the following steps:

  1. Consultation with subject’s attorney to clarify legal referral issue and discuss case strategy.
  2. Clinical interview with the subject.
  3. Diagnostic assessment using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
  4. Objective, standardized assessment instruments (i.e., techniques to measure personality traits, cognitive functioning, and specific symptom inventories). Depending on the referral question, actuarial measures may also be used to guide likelihood estimates regarding future violence.
  5. Review documents, such as educational, mental health, medical, and legal records.
  6. Review relevant peer-reviewed, published literature.
  7. As appropriate, consult with collateral contacts such as key members of the subject’s support system and, as relevant, medical professionals, mental health treatment providers, employers, or educators.
  8. Analyze clinical information according to relevant legal standard.
  9. When appropriate, offer evidence-based treatment recommendations.


Please contact Dr. McLawsen using the form on this page or by phone at (206) 289-0456. Calls will be returned within one business day when possible. 

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