Working with people who have killed: The experience and attitudes of forensic mental health clinicians working with forensic patients

Derith Harris, Brenda HAPPELL, Elizabeth Manias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forensic mental health (FMH) clinicians sometimes feel unsupported and unprepared for their work. This article explores their experiences of working in a FMH setting in Australia. The research examined the clinical context of clinicians working with forensic patients (FP), particularly those individuals who have killed while experiencing a mental illness. A qualitative, exploratory design was selected. Data were collected through focus groups and individual interviews with hospital and community-based forensic clinicians from all professional groups: psychiatric medicine, social work, psychology, mental health nursing, occupational therapy, and psychiatric service officers. The main themes identified were orientation and adjustment to FMH, training in FMH, vicarious traumatization, clinical debriefing and clinical supervision, and therapeutic relationships. Participants described being frustrated and unsupported in making the transition to working with FP and felt conflicted by the emotional response that was generated when developing therapeutic relationships. Recommendations include the development of programmes that might assist clinicians and address gaps in service delivery, such as clinical governance, targeted orientation programmes, and clinical supervision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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