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Psychological and Risk Assessments
The team at FPS have a wealth of experience in the area of psychological assessment and have undergone extensive training in sexual, violent, neuropsychological, cognitive and functional risk assessment.
A thorough assessment is completed using the most current/evidence-based assessment instruments and a detailed psychological report is compiled which examines the cognitive, behavioural, emotional, and situational factors involved in the perpetration of the offence in question. These reports utilise data from a myriad of sources.
An assessment is usually conducted over 6-8 clinical sessions and includes face-to-face interviews with the individual, significant others, and professionals involved. Telephone consultations with professionals/significant others may also be conducted as appropriate. The client’s personal history and other relevant background information is explored. Direct observations alongside a battery of psychometric instruments are used to gain further insight into an individual's cognitive capacity, psychological and emotional functioning, and to identify specific strengths or weaknesses. This information is used in conjunction with the clinical interviews, psychometric testing and collateral information to gain an understanding of the offence and the dynamics involved. Depending on the offence in question, an assessment of risk of future offending is conducted using the most up-to-date risk assessment tools. Finally, recommendations regarding risk management and treatment are offered.
These reports aim to establish a psychological profile of the client, to assist in understanding aspects of the client’s behaviour, and to answer specific questions outlined in the referral. We provide reports for the following:
Sexual Offences (Including Contact, Non Contact and Internet Abuse)
White Collar Crime
Parenting Capacity Assessments
Cognitive and Allied Assessment
Parenting Capacity Assessments
In cases where parents have come to the attention of the HSE due to concerns regarding possible physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect of their children, a Parenting Capacity Assessment may be required. In addition, assessments may be sought by the HSE to inform reunification plans or issues concerning access.
The objective of Parenting Capacity Assessments is to establish as accurately as possible whether or not parents are adequately equipped to provide appropriate and stable emotional and physical care to their children.
The assessment process is tailored to the parents’ individual needs and areas of concern identified by the referring agency.
Parenting Capacity Assessments include:
Clinical interviews with parents, children (where appropriate), significant others (for purposes of gathering collateral information)
Psychometric assessment of social, emotional and psychological functioning
Structured child and parent observations
Structured/actuarial risk assessments of future violent or sexually inappropriate behavior (if applicable)
Review of social work files, Books of Evidence, and any other relevant documentation (i.e. medical reports, psychological/psychiatric reports)
Where appropriate, discussion and consultation with other professionals involved with the family as a unit or with individual family members
On completion of the assessment report, the clinician provides verbal feedback to the parents in respect of the assessment findings. This provides an opportunity for the parents and the clinician to discuss the outcome and recommendations of the assessment. The clinician may also attend one professional meeting as part of the assessment process if this is required by the referring agency. Attendance at additional meetings can be facilitated but will incur a fee for the referral agent. Clinicians are also available to attend family court where necessary. The service issues an invoice for court attendance and expenses.
Cognitive assessments are sought and conducted in a variety of situations. These may form part of a standard assessment (ie Parenting Capacity, Risk Assessment) where there are indications that a person’s intellectual capacity may be compromised or they may form the basis of a specific referral.
Situations where specific referrals for cognitive and allied assessments (i.e. memory, premorbid functioning, suggestibility and compliance, neuropsychological) might be sought include:
Capacity to understand and engage with court proceedings, or capacity to contribute meaningfully to one’s legal case
In relation to adolescents where intellectual difficulties are suspected, a cognitive assessment can aid in determining if Juvenile court would be a more appropriate setting than Adult court to conduct proceedings
In criminal cases, where issues in respect of false confession or suggestibility have arisen
In criminal cases, where neuropsychological impairment may have been a potential contributory factor to the offence/s
Cognitive assessments determine IQ levels, verbal comprehension ability, processing speed, working memory and perceptual reasoning ability. Depending on the individual case, more in depth assessments can be conducted (ie memory, premorbid functioning, suggestibility and compliance, neuropsychological).
A functional behavioural assessment is conducted to determine the purpose of the challenging behaviour and factors which maintain and reinforce these behaviours. This informs the development of a positive behavioural support programme.
Positive Behavioural Support Programmes
Positive Behavioural Support Programmes are the treatment of choice for people displaying challenging behaviour, those with intellectual disabilities, and vulnerable others with a specific clinical need, such as Asperger's/Autism etc. The function of the negative behaviour is analysed and positive behaviours identified that are functionally equivalent for the person. These programmes are sanction free and eliminate negative behaviour by not providing any reinforcement for these behaviours. However, natural consequences remain in place, and are explained to the person. The programme is developed and implemented together with the person's family and/or care staff.
Working with offenders, people at risk of offending, or people otherwise involved in the legal system, can be a challenging and unsettling process. Forensic Psychological Services provides supervision to individuals, groups, and agencies involved with this client group.
Forensic Psychological Services currently offer a group treatment programme for men who have committed sexual offences. This includes contact offences as well as non-contact (e.g. Internet) offences. Group therapy has been established to be the preferred treatment modality for this client population.
Our groups are based on the “Good Lives Model”, which assumes that the offending behaviour is an inappropriate attempt to achieve one or more of the common life goals that all human beings have. It helps people understand the relationship between their life circumstances, goals, and their offending behaviour, and aims at helping people achieve a satisfying life in which goals are met without harming oneself or others.
Groups run on a weekly basis for three-hour-sessions. There are a maximum of eight clients in each group, which is facilitated by two therapists. Clients currently can avail of group treatment on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening from 6-9pm.
Psychotherapy groups for other client populations are offered on demand.
Individual Therapy is aimed at increasing the general sense of well-being of a person through gaining a better understanding of one's emotional functioning, addressing specific problems, and developing new and more effective coping strategies.
Our psychotherapists and psychologists are trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psycho-dynamic and Psychoanalytic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and Psychodrama. Usually, our therapists will use an integrated approach which is tailored to the client's specific needs.
Therapy is often recommended following an assessment, but clients can also avail of our therapeutic services independent of a previous assessment. Clients are also seen on an individual basis to prepare them to join one of our group therapy programmes.
Generally, psychotherapeutic sessions take place on a weekly or fortnightly basis. However, the frequency of sessions can be adjusted depending on a client's needs. One session usually lasts for approximately 50 minutes.
Psychotherapy is generally not covered by medical card or private health insurance. For those who are concerned about the costs of therapy, we offer a sliding-scale model where the fee depends on the person's income. In these cases, clients will usually attend one of our psychologists in training, who will be fully supervised by a senior psychologist.
In some cases, e.g. when an organisation (e.g. HSE or the Department of Justice) is concerned about a person's level of risk of future offending and therapy is recommended as a means to reduce same, funding or part-funding may be available from this organisation. However, in these cases we may have to report back to the organisation about the client's therapeutic progress, and confidentiality of sessions will thus be limited.