affectiveH3art

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I have been looking into APA internships and have noticed that prisons are listed. Does anyone have experience in similar placements and why did you chose to apply there? What are the pros and cons to this kind of site?

Do you need experience in practicums with prison populations to gain this APA internship position? What do people do after this kind of experience (Private practice/ VA, etc).
 

erg923

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Do you need experience in practicums with prison populations to gain this APA internship position? What do people do after this kind of experience (Private practice/ VA, etc).
I think it certainly helps to have the background knowledge/info, as getting up and going to a correctional institution every morning is quite different from any other setting you have probably done clinical work in before.

You can certainly do almost anything afterward, but my sense is that many people taking these internships are the forensic/correctional types who really wanna stay in that kind of environment.
 
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Nov 21, 2012
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Do you need experience in practicums with prison populations to gain this APA internship position? What do people do after this kind of experience (Private practice/ VA, etc).
I don't have personal experience working in a prison, but I know that it can provide you with credibility if you want to specialize in forensic assessments later on. This is a very lucrative area for psychologists, but tends to be higher risk and very stressful.
 
Mar 26, 2012
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I worked as a contractor for a month back in 2006 at Folsom in California (yes, I've walked through that dining room where Johnny Cash did that famous concert) and it was the most depressing job I'd ever had, terrible - it was literally like working in a dungeon. I know some people really like prison work but I think it takes a special kind of person.
 
Dec 15, 2011
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I have been looking into APA internships and have noticed that prisons are listed. Does anyone have experience in similar placements and why did you chose to apply there? What are the pros and cons to this kind of site?

Do you need experience in practicums with prison populations to gain this APA internship position? What do people do after this kind of experience (Private practice/ VA, etc).
I'm currently doing an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). I've always been interested in working with a correctional/forensic population (I have a terminal M.A. in Forensic Psychology), so it was a perfect fit for me. And yes, I did have a ton of practicum experience in this area. I think the experience helps to get an internship in a prison setting, but it's not absolutely necessary. However, as JeyRo mentioned, it take a specific type of person to work in a correctional setting. I would try it out on practicum first if you think you're interested to see if it's a good fit.

In terms of pros and cons, there are a few. In terms of pros, prisoners are a diverse population with a range of symptoms. You are going to have the opportunity to work with every single diagnosis possible in a prison setting. There is also some job security in working with this population, and you can make ok money doing it, especially if you work with the BOP.

In terms of cons, you need to put any moral judgments you have to the side. You're going to have to work with sex offenders and murderers- this is just a given. Also, prisoners can be highly manipulative. You need to have your guard up at all times. Even tiny gestures could be a set up (it recently happened to me). If you're a female working in a male facility, this can pose its own issues (yes, I have had inmates masturbate in front of me).

This is just a few things to consider. I can certainly provide more info if you want it!
 

cara susanna

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My program has a huge forensic component and a lot of our clinical students end up at prison internships. Most of them had practicum experiences at jails and prisons, as well as forensic-y research interests.
 
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affectiveH3art

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CSOPP: Do you know if it is possible to work with specific populations within the prison system (e.g. substance abuse, sex addiction, etc) or do you work with what is given. I am very curious about working with prison populations. Are there certain "judgment" from other psychologists if you work in this environment? I am aware this is a very risky placement, but yet interested in the challenge.
 

NotTheHoff

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CSOPP: Do you know if it is possible to work with specific populations within the prison system (e.g. substance abuse, sex addiction, etc) or do you work with what is given. I am very curious about working with prison populations. Are there certain "judgment" from other psychologists if you work in this environment? I am aware this is a very risky placement, but yet interested in the challenge.
There are several internships within corrections where you are engaging exclusively (or almost) in general clinical services (treatment/assessment) but happen to be doing this with a corrections population. On the other hand, there are internships with forensic tracks that involve more services that may assist the courts. This is where risk assessment, competence evals, etc. come into play. Of course, many prison-based internships offer both types of services, but the emphasis can vary.

With regard to your first question: you should have little trouble finding sites that offer treatment/assessment options with specific populations in the prison system. If you're thinking about applying a specific experience you have (say, substance abuse treatment) with a prison population, this shouldn't be hard to find, especially with sites that emphasize correctional over forensic work.
 
Dec 15, 2011
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CSOPP: Do you know if it is possible to work with specific populations within the prison system (e.g. substance abuse, sex addiction, etc) or do you work with what is given. I am very curious about working with prison populations. Are there certain "judgment" from other psychologists if you work in this environment? I am aware this is a very risky placement, but yet interested in the challenge.
Yes, you can work with specific populations within the prison system. Almost all prison internships require a "general population" rotation, which is where you'll get the most variability in clients. Substance abuse rotations are very common, as is working with severely mentally ill clients. Forensic assessment and sex offender rotations are more rare, but available. There are also other rotations you could focus on, including trauma focused treatment. Looking at hospitals with a forensic emphasis will also give you lots of opportunities to work with SMI, sex offenders, and restoration to competency clients.

I personally haven't gotten any negative judgment from other psychologists. I would say most of my peers, and even some professors, were intrigued by the cases of those of us who did practicums in correctional or forensic settings. Of course, I don't have a lot of "real world" experience yet, so we'll see if that changes.
 
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Mar 26, 2012
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Yes, you can work with specific populations within the prison system. Almost all prison internships require a "general population" rotation, which is where you'll get the most variability in clients. Substance abuse rotations are very common, as is working with severely mentally ill clients. Forensic assessment and sex offender rotations are more rare, but available. There are also other rotations you could focus on, including trauma focused treatment. Looking at hospitals with a forensic emphasis will also give you lots of opportunities to work with SMI, sex offenders, and restoration to competency clients.

I personally haven't gotten any negative judgment from other psychologists. I would say most of my peers, and even some professors, were intrigued by the cases of those of us who did practicums in correctional or forensic settings. Of course, I don't have a lot of "real world" experience yet, so we'll see if that changes.
BTW, just to be clear, I don't have any negative judgment about psychologists or professionals that work in prisons either - I was merely just offering my own experience; it didn't agree with me at all (much more comfortable working with my vets!)..... but I can totally understand how for others, working in a prison makes complete sense and works for them.
 
Jan 24, 2014
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I just found this forum, and I'd like to add that working in a prison can expose you to a worldview that people on the outside never experience. I did my internship at a special needs correctional facility and worked with murders, rapists, run of the mill drug addicts/alcoholics, etc. I also did an offsite rotation doing child sex-abuse assessments one day per week. That experience changed me. I saw in the eyes of the men and women, the same eyes of the children I worked with. Astounding view of life. Not for the faint of heart. I did have experience in community corrections doing psych assessments for the incarcerated, prior to my internship. Also had clinical experience in a & d, and other areas. It definitely helps to have experience before you commit to working in this population.