The Program provides specialized forensic training through the following types of weekly activities:
- Applied Forensic Clinical Experience (about 32 hrs./week)
- Weekly Seminars (about 4-5 hrs./week), and
- Research Experience (about 3- 4 hrs./week).
Applied Forensic Clinical Experience
Every resident obtains applied forensic experience in several different types of forensic settings.
There are two broad types of forensic settings for adults in Massachusetts: inpatient forensic evaluation units, and court clinics. (Court clinics consist of groups of professionals who provide on-site forensic evaluations and consultation to the courts.) We believe that it is consistent with good preparation for a forensic psychology career for residents to obtain some experience in both of these types of settings.
We have three positions available which includes work in inpatient settings, court clinics, and community settings. The inpatient settings include a maxium security setting forensic hospital for men (Bridgewater State Hospital) and Department of Mental Health state hospitals. Each resident is also assigned to a court clinic for a rotation. In addition to court-ordered evaluations, there are opportunities to provide violence risk assessment consultations to hospitals and community providers. Additional rotations, dependent on the interest of residents, may also be available.
Forensic Experience Training Sites. We collaborate with several public sector forensic evaluation services and teams throughout Massachusetts to provide the above training experiences. The following are brief descriptions of those sites.
Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH), a Department of Correction facility, provides inpatient forensic evaluation services for men in Massachusetts who require a maximum security setting. Forensic evaluation services there are provided by a team of Forensic Psychologists. This team provides the courts pre- and post-trial evaluations (e.g., competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, aid in sentencing, as well as need for commitment) of defendants requiring this secure setting as well as evaluations of prisoners in need of treatment.
Department of Mental Health Hospitals also conduct similar forensic evaluation services. One such facility, Worcester Recovery Center Hospital (WRCH), is adjacent to the UMMS campus, and is the site of the Resident Training Program. WRCH has an adult inpatient forensic evaluation units serving both men and women, where a team of Forensic Psychologists provide evaluations to the courts, similar to those described above. Violence risk assessments are also provided to the treatment teams regarding patients who are being considered for increased privileges or discharges. Consultations may also be provided to outpatient providers regarding clients with significant histories of violence. In addition, similar services may be provided at other Department of Mental Health facilities.
WRCH also has an adolescent unit where inpatient evaluations of juveniles (under age 19) are provided for issues of : competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, aid in sentencing, and need for commitment.
Adult Court clinic services (District and Superior Courts) are provided by specially designated forensic psychologists and psychiatrists. Professionals in these settings provide forensic mental health screening evaluations (e.g., competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, aid in sentencing, civil commitment, commitment of substance abusers) to the courts, consultation and mental health liaison to judges and other court personnel, and liaison to community mental health agencies. Supervision of residents in the court clinics will be provided by highly experienced forensic psychologists or psychiatrists. We have arrangements with several court clinics in different parts of the Commonwealth to provide placements for our residents. The decision about court clinic placements is a flexible one, taking into account the needs of the courts as well as the geographic preferences of the residents.
Supervision of all forensic evaluations is provided by a forensic psychologists who has been certified by the Department of Mental Health. Supervisors at all sites prepare written evaluations of Residents each quarter. These are sent to Dr. Packer, the Program director. The director reviews these evaluations with the Residents and sets goals and expections for satisfactory completion of the rotations. Residents are asked to provide mid-year and final evaluations of thier supervision (and all other aspects of the training program). In addition, fellows will have weekly individual supervision sessions with Dr. Packer to intergrate thier clinical and didactic experiences as well as regular sessions with thier research supervisor (Dr. Gina Vincent) focusing on research topics.