Forensic Psychology

What is it and what issues do we treat?

What is Forensic Psychology?

Forensic Psychology is the application of psychological theory and research to understanding crime and criminal behaviour. Forensic psychologists deal with harmful behaviour that has often brought people into contact with the criminal justice system or other formal systems (eg: Child Safety).

Typically psychologists undertake assessments and deliver treatment with the objective of reducing risks associated with the behaviour of concern (i.e. reducing the risk of harm to others by reducing risk of reoffending).

Our approach to treatment for forensic behaviours is evidence-based and follows the Risk, Needs, Responsivity Model (see factsheet) of offender assessment and rehabilitation.

This model has three core principles:

  • Risk principle: Match the level of service to the offender’s assessed level of risk for re-offending (i.e. typically communicated as low, medium, high). 
  • Need principle: Assess criminogenic needs (i.e. risk factors) and target them in treatment. 
  • Responsivity principle: Maximize the offender’s ability to learn from a rehabilitative intervention by providing cognitive behavioural treatment and tailoring the intervention to the learning style, motivation, abilities and strengths of the offender. 

Behaviours we treat:

Sexual offending  

  • Child molestation
  • Accessing child exploitation material (possessing / making / distributing)
  • Other internet-based sexual offending (procuring, grooming)
  • Sexually-motivated stalking
  • Sexual deviancy (paraphilias, exhibitionism, frotteurism)
  • Rape & sexually-motivated murder

Improving a parents’ capacity to protect children from sexual harm  

Treatment is aimed at enhancing a non-offending partner’s capacity to protect children from sexual harm.  This treatment is usually delivered to mothers who are in a relationship with someone where sexual risk to their child/ren has been identified (i.e. partner has a prior conviction for sexual abuse of children, or an allegation of sexual harm / concern regarding children).

Violent offending & aggression  

  • Assault / GBH / deprivation of liberty / murder
  • Stalking
  • Armed robbery / robbery with violence
  • Interpersonal aggression / anger

Intimate partner / domestic and family violence  

  • Coercive control
  • Assault / deprivation of liberty
  • Stalking

General offending  

  • Theft
  • Drug offences
  • Property offences
  • Fraud
  • Driving offences

Practical matters

Referral: You do not require a formal referral to see a psychologist for forensic treatment. You can self-refer. If you have a solicitor assisting you with a legal case, it is often helpful for them to formally contact the Centre to discuss requirements. If you are self-referring or referring a client for treatment, you can also submit an enquiry form via our website.  See link to our referral form.

Method of engagement: face to face in clinic, telehealth (videoconference or phone call)

Length of treatment: After the first couple of sessions (where the psychologist assesses your ‘criminogenic’ i.e. treatment needs), he/she will be able to provide you with an estimate of the number of sessions required to treat the presenting problem/s. Treatment progress is dependent upon many factors (participation, motivation, availability, compliance with between-session tasks), all of which can change over time.  Throughout the treatment process, the psychologist will be able to provide you with updated feedback regarding the treatment requirements.

Length of sessions: Each session is of 1 hour duration

Medicare Rebate: The treatment of criminal behaviour is not typically covered by Mental Health Care Plans (i.e. Medicare funded), unless your presenting problem meets the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Please see the link to the Medicare Fact Sheet regarding this.  If your presenting problem does not meet criteria for a MHCP you can still access psychological treatment – you do not need a referral, it just means you will need to fund the fees privately.

Collateral information

Your psychologist will require access to third party collateral material to be able to effectively assess your needs and develop an appropriate treatment plan. This is especially important if you intend the psychologist to provide information relevant to a court case (i.e a treatment summary).  We ask people to provide consent to communicate with their legal representative and to obtain materials relevant to their case (from lawyers, other treatment providers etc) prior to treatment beginning.

Reports

The treating psychologist can provide a treatment summary report if requested.  This is a brief report which typically outlines the context of the referral; the number and frequency of sessions completed; the specific treatment needs (i.e. risk factors) that were targeted and the strategies used to do so; a comment about the person’s response to treatment, and recommendations for future treatment / management if necessary.

Treating psychologists cannot also perform the function of risk assessor. It is important that these things are done by separate people to ensure maximum objectivity.

If you require a formal risk assessment at the conclusion of forensic treatment, (i.e. for pre-sentence purposes; Child Safety decision-making etc), another psychologist within the Centre can provide that.

When someone is receiving treatment at the pre-sentence stage, it is common practice (with the client’s consent) for one psychologist at our Centre to provide treatment, and another to go on to complete a formal risk assessment for court.

Fees

Treatment session: fee of $250 / hour.

Collateral review:  A fee of $200 is applied if collateral material is in excess of 50 pages

Treatment summary report:  $500 + GST

Please click here for information about Forensic Risk Assessments

Need more information to make a referral?

 Email Us
 (07) 3162 0611