Cope for Court®

Psycholegal witness preparation for in-court oral hearing

Psycholegal witness preparation is a method which:

  • Promotes the wellbeing of the witnesses during legal proceedings
  • Enhances and increases spontaneity by decreasing pre-trial and state anxiety experienced by the witness
  • Gives the injured party the sense that pursuing her/his case is seen as important and, in some cases, allows the witness to present her/his case to the court by themselves
  • Prevents secondary traumatization
  • Enhances interaction between the witness and the trial attorney
  • Increases the information value of reports and improves the quality of testimonies

The main purpose of Cope for Court is to provide the best possible conditions for a good hearing and to boost the witnesses’ self-confidence as a witness. The method comprises the following steps:

a) The initial anxiety level and the symptoms of potential traumatic stress are identified together with a clinician.

b) Legal proceedings education. This is a method of training that enhances the understanding of the legal process of the witness and helps them to deal with their emotions and thoughts concerning the in-court oral hearing. The legal proceeding education deals with, among other things, the stages of the trial, the roles, responsibilities and rights of the parties and the progress of the day in practice.

c) Mental image and relaxation exercise. This is done with an EMDR therapy based method and specific protocol designed for this purpose. For more information on EMDR therapy, please see

Overall, the Cope for Court session usually takes 60 minutes.

Research results have demonstrated that forensic psychological preparation:

• Increases the confidence of the witness and the credibility of their testimony
• Expands on testimonies and reduces the number of errors in them
• Reduces advance anxiety experienced by victims of crime

Forensic psychological preparation enhances and facilitates the preparatory work of legal assistants and increases the information value of and quality of judicial evidence. The preparation does not pass judgement on the content of the evidence. The task of preparing is designed to help bring out the best of the withness at their own hearing. The work concentrates on the court hearing or arbitration. In a criminal case in Finland, the costs of the witness preparation may be claimed from the losing party.

Concerning the Cope for Court method:

“Forensic psychological preparation is a win-win experience for all parties. The trial attorney’s anxiety about the readiness of the witness to appear at a hearing is abolished, the witness gains more confidence and courage in their performance and the court has access to testimonies that are substantively more accurate and detailed.”

Helinä Häkkänen-NyholmNational Crisis and Trauma Conference 11.11.2016

The Cope for Court method is developed by Dr. Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm, Docent of Forensic Psychology, Psychotherapist and EMDR therapist. Cope for Court is a trademark protected service. Further information: or +358 (0)443511630.