Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

A Survey of Clinical Psychology Training in Canadian Federal Corrections: Implications for Psychologist Recruitment and Retention

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

A Survey of Clinical Psychology Training in Canadian Federal Corrections: Implications for Psychologist Recruitment and Retention

Article excerpt

Although survey results seem to indicate an abundant interest among Canadian psychology graduate students in pursuing training in criminal justice psychology, the recruitment and retention of psychologists in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has been of some concern. The present study is a 2008 survey of sites within CSC that provide opportunities for clinical psychology training with offender clientele. Survey findings demonstrated that a broad range of clinical psychology training opportunities were available across 16 sites. The most frequently cited barrier to providing training was lack of time by prospective trainers, and sites reported retaining relatively few of their trainees for subsequent psychologist positions. Information was also obtained regarding vacant psychologist positions across CSC regions. In light of survey findings, substantive discussion is devoted toward the issues of psychologist recruitment and retention in Canadian federal corrections, including a discussion of both potential and existing training initiatives.

Keywords: criminal justice, corrections, clinical psychology, training, psychologist

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is a federal department responsible for the administration, rehabilitation, supervision, and management of adult male and female offenders serving custodial sentences of at least 2 years. With approximately 13,000 offenders housed in its facilities and 7,000 supervised in the community, CSC is the single largest employer of psychologists in the country, with approximately 300 psychologists employed full or part-time across its five regions (Pacific, Prairie, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic) (CSC, 2010).

In this paper, we direct our focus on professionals who practice clinically in criminal justice psychology, which Simourd and Wormith (1995) have defined as "any psychological knowledge, research or practice that relates to the justice system. It includes the application of psychology to legal matters (e.g., forensic evaluations, jury selection, and eye witness testimony) and the involvement of psychologists in any of the justice agencies (e.g., courts, law enforcement, correctional facilities, probation, and forensic hospitals" (p. 213).

The duties of psychologists working in criminal justice settings are perhaps more varied than that seen with most other mental health professions (Magaletta & Verdeyen, 2005). Magaletta and Verdeyen (2005) identified two broad clusters of professional responsibilities of psychologists specifically working within correctional settings: (1) direct service provision such as assessment, specialized treatment, crisis intervention, or consultation, and (2) the coordination of programs and services, for instance through administration and clinical training and supervision (e.g., practicum students, residents, and newly licensed staff). In a survey of over 800 psychologists employed in U.S. prisons, Boothby and Clements (2000) found that administrative tasks occupied the highest proportion of psychologists' time (30%) followed by comparatively less time in direct service provision, including treatment (26%) and assessment (18%), and the least amount of time allotted toward research (1%). Under an ideal set of circumstances, psychologists surveyed expressed a preference for less administration and to devote a greater portion of their time toward research, providing training, and conducting therapy. The remaining categories - assessment, consultation, and crisis intervention - each had similar actual and ideal time allotment ratings.

In a follow-up paper, Boothby and Clements (2002) examined job satisfaction in this U.S. sample. Psychologists reported a moderate level of job satisfaction overall. Safety, job security, and relationships with clients were rated as the most positive and satisfying aspects of the work, whereas the limited opportunities for professional advancement and the work atmosphere were rated as least satisfying and most negative. …

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