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Career Story: Director Of Psychological Services At A Prison

Director Of Psychological Services At A Prison

Job Title: Director Of Psychological Services

Type of Company: I work for the sheriff's department in the house of corrections and with pre-trial detainees.

Education: MA, Clinical Psychology

Previous Experience: I took many volunteer jobs working with the blind and children with head injuries. I worked with the elderly. My first job after graduating from college was on a crisis team. This provided me with endless amounts of experience and I was able to continue this job until I completed my masters.

Job Tasks: I am the Director of Psychological Services at a correctional institution. This job has many variables. All inmates are seen at intake by a qualified clinician. Using the evaluation he draws up we are able to assess the psychological, substance abuse and classification status of an inmate and determine where and how to house him. All inmates who arrive on psychotropic medications have their medications reviewed and approved by their psychiatrists (with release of information) and then see our own psychiatrist for continuation and consistent care. Inmates who test positive for drug or alcohol abuse or dependence may be recommended for a medical detoxification and/or programs and education. If inmates are thought to have symptoms of mental illness, they will be sent for further assessment and observed for several days to determine their needs.

Psychological Services also assesses detainees for suicidal thoughts or intent. The clinician helps determine the need for services and intervention for the inmate. Interventions can vary in scope, from recommendations for a medication evaluation to suicide restrictions and observation with crisis counseling to acute psychiatric hospitalization in a secure institution.

We also work with the correctional staff, training them to do suicide assessments, cope with mental illness and perform critical incident counseling. We also help determine when someone is acting out due to mental illness.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is that corrections is a secure environment with a fast pace and many different personality and mental health issues.

The worst part of this job can be observing the sad lives of the inmates and seeing the devastating effects that drugs and alcohol and mental health can have on someone's life. It is also sad to see the limited number of resources available to people like this when we try to integrate them back into the community.

Job Tips:
1. You should really visit a correctional facility see if this is the kind of environment you could work in, with the slamming doors, keys and security staff.

2. You need to be licensed and have your Masters degree. Education is very important.

3. You need to be an independent worker and have confidence in your clinical abilities . And it helps to find a good supervisor that you can confide in and whose advice you respect.

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