Correctional Subspecialty Roles and Responsibilities
The term correctional psychologist applies to forensic psychologists working within a correctional setting. Correctional psychologists have several different roles and responsibilities that are highly important in the correctional setting. The psychologist does not frequently work with the prison population, but more of providing psychological assessments, interventions, and treatments (Bartol & Bartol, 2012).
Correctional psychologists are considered the main source of mental health services in the prison systems (Magaletta & Verdeyen, 2005). Correctional psychologists typically have a specialized training versus the psychologist without a specialty. This academic rigor prepares the professional to undertake his or her roles and responsibilities. Some of the roles of a correctional psychologist are but not limited to psychological assessments, inmate screening and classification, crisis intervention, assessment of correctional personnel, treatment, and competency (Bartol & Bartol, 2012).
The professional is bound to uphold confidentiality no matter if the professional is evaluating corrections staff, inmates, or other psychologist’s staff. According to Quijano and Logsdon, “The American Psychological Association (1972) code of ethics and the local state board code hold true in the prison. In correctional psychologists’ work to promote the best interests of their inmate clients, they adhere to the code of ethics set for their profession” (p. 230). This applies to all psychologists no matter what realm he or she practices in. The same rule applies to the prison system in which the psychologist can break confidentiality if the client/inmate mentions an escape or to harm anyone, including themselves. This is especially important as the correctional system is highly controversial (Quijano & Logsdon, 1978).
Crisis intervention is another role and responsibility of the correctional psychologist. There may be a time in which the prison officials may call a psychologist to assist with an inmate. The need for a crisis intervention could come from a variety of situations and circumstances. Incarcerated individuals lead a lonely road and can become volatile by feeling fear, loneliness overwhelmed, and hopeless (Bartol & Bartol, 2012). If the inmate hears news of a death in the family or denial for parole, prison officials could seek out the psychologist for an evaluation. It is the responsibility of the professional that they undergo the intervention to prevent self inflicted violence. Suicide is among the highest due to one of the examples above. which is why the crisis intervention is so important and the responsibility of that professional to help prevent any violence from the inmate. In order to undergo the intervention, typically the correctional psychologist will conduct clinical and forensic interviews/evaluations with the prisoner. Some form of psychological testing could be used to determine the inmate’s personality and his or her disorders associated with the personality. A cell observation can also be a way to determine disorders and can help with the initial crisis and competency evaluation (Magaletta & Verdeyen, 2005).
Correctional psychologists have several different roles and responsibilities that are highly important in the correctional setting. The roles and responsibilities of a correctional psychologist are, but not limited to psychological assessments, inmate screening and classification, crisis intervention, assessment of correctional personnel, treatment, and competency (Bartol & Bartol, 2012).
Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2012). Introduction to Forensic Psychology Research and Application (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Magaletta, P. E., & Verdeyen, V. (2005, February). Clinical Practice in Corrections: A Conceptual Framework. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(1), 1-7. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.36.1.37
Quijano, W. Y., & Logsdon, S. A. (1978, May). Some issues in the practice of correctional psychology in the context of security. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 9(2), 228-239. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.9.2.228