With his Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Tyler, Dr. Atkins began his professional career as an artist. In the process of working with adolescents and teens as an art teacher, he developed an interest in psychology. After obtaining a masters degree in psychology, he entered a doctoral program in school psychology with the intention of working with school-aged children. His doctoral dissertation was on the topic of adolescent polysubstance abuse. During the time that he was working toward his doctorate, he began working as a school psychologist. After becoming licensed in Pennsylvania in 1977, he started a small clinical practice centered around the needs and issues of teens and young adults. Following his becoming licensed in New Jersey, Dr. Atkins expanded his clinical practice both in scope and in volume, specializing in substance abuse and dependency. In addition, he worked as a consultant to various private, state and federal programs dealing with the issue of substance abuse.
Due to some of Dr. Atkins’ drug-abusing clients having co-existing legal problems, he was asked to testify on behalf of his clients at various criminal proceedings. Eventually, Dr. Atkins began to be called upon as an expert on the treatment of substance abuse and dependency. As his practice and experience grew, he began to provide expert testimony regarding an individual’s state of mind whether or not there was an issue of substance abuse. He also began conducting evaluations and testifying in the civil arena for both plaintiffs and defendants and conducted evaluations and testified for both the prosecution and defense in criminal matters. In spite of the growth of his forensic practice over the years, Dr. Atkins has continued to maintain his clinical practice.
Over the years, Dr. Atkins has expanded his knowledge and experience as an expert to include the areas of neonaticide (the killing of a newborn), child sexual abuse, child pornography, sexually violent predator evaluations and crimes committed by individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. More recently, he has been utilized as both a consultant and an expert in several high profile institutional sex abuse cases. In addition to his expert testimony in state of mind defenses, Dr. Atkins has consulted and testified extensively regarding sentencing both in state and federal courts. He has also testified, published and lectured in the area of death penalty mitigation. In the civil arena, Dr. Atkins has testified regarding methodological issues related to evaluations of psychological damages, professional malpractice and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He has authored articles and book chapters on forensic psychological topics including the insanity defense, neonaticide, death penalty mitigation, sentencing, professional boundary crossing and the capacity to waive Miranda rights. Dr. Atkins has presented CE and CLE workshops on substance abuse, sexual victimization, neonaticide, sentencing in federal court, Daubert, divorce/custody, kidnapping, infant abduction, internet-based sex crimes, false confessions, death penalty mitigation, borderline personality disorder, employment discrimination and professional boundary crossings.
Ms. Hey joined the practice in the summer of 2005 following her graduation from Roger Williams University. She worked on a part-time basis while pursuing her Masters of Art’s Degree in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. In 2007, she began working full time as an assistant to Dr. Atkins. Her role in the office is both as an administrator and a clinician. She readily administers psychological testing, conducts interviews, reviews and analyzes medical records, discovery materials and trial transcripts and works as a consultant.