In January 2015 I started working with Mentor Forensic Services as an Assistant Psychologist and I haven’t looked back since! It’s been an exciting, fulfilling, interesting and challenging year but I remain as enthused about my role as I was when I first started.
Every day offers different challenges and tasks. On any given day, I might be:
- attending a professionals meeting
- consulting with a local authority on a case
- providing training to a residential children’s home
- supplying an educative package to a school or private organisation
- undertaking assessments of children or young people who have displayed sexually inappropriate or abusive behaviour to another child
- providing therapeutic intervention to address this behaviour where necessary
- risk assessing adults (and their partners) where there are allegations of sexual harm to safeguard and protect children.
- delivering therapeutic intervention with adults who have a sexual interest in children
- attending court to better understand how assessment reports are used within family court proceedings
I also undertake research; I recently presented some research at last year’s NOTA conference that had been carried out in conjunction with Compass Fostering (a national fostering agency with whom Mentor works). Every day is different and this is one of the many reasons why I love my job.
My background hasn’t always been Forensic Psychology. I started out with a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Queen’s University in Belfast and then completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology. Following this, I gained employment with the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust as an Assistant Psychologist, where I developed my clinical skills and knowledge particularly in the area of neuropsychology. In September 2013 I made the decision to return to education and undertook a Masters in Applied Psychology. During this time, I volunteered with a number of charities, including the NSPCC. Once I had completed my Masters, I began a placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the CAMHS department of South Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital. The diverse range of experience I have gained over the years has been beneficial in preparing me for the varied role I have with Mentor Forensics.
In this first year with Mentor I have learned so much, in particular in relation to Child Sexual Abuse and Sex Offender Behaviour. The wealth of knowledge and experience my colleagues possess is inspiring and I am learning from them on a daily basis. Being able to attend the training which Mentor Forensic Services provides to professionals in the field is a highlight for me as well as the hours of experience that I am acquiring through face-to-face contact and then being able to apply my new skills and learning.
The main challenge for me relates to how other people perceive those who work with Sex Offenders, so I tend not to disclose what my job involves. Those family members or friends who are aware ask questions such as ‘How do you do it’, ‘Does it not get to you’ etc. For me the highlight of my job is knowing that a child has been protected/safeguarded as a result of the work I do.