Psychology Training Program Setting: MHFPC is a secure psychiatric center located in New Hampton, New York and owned and operated by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). The hospital serves persons committed either under the provisions of Section 730 of the Criminal Procedure Law as lacking capacity to stand trial, under Section 330.20 as not criminally responsible due to mental illness or defect, under Part 57 of the Mental Hygiene Regulations for civil patients requiring confinement and treatment in a maximum security hospital, or under Correction Law 508 as pre-sentenced inmates in local county correctional facilities.
The hospital serves forensic patients from the entire state of New York with 60% of all admissions from New York City. The hospital consists of 18 units, two of which are mixed-gender environments, 15 of which house only men, and one which may house patients of any gender depending on their behavioral stability. Patients with serious medical issues are housed in our Acute Care Unit and patients with acute behavioral problems are housed in our Special Services Unit. In addition, MHFPC recently created two units for providing specialized treatment to specific populations. These include the Behavior Change Unit for patients with sexually based offenses, and the Substance Abuse Hope and Recovery unit, to treat patients with long hospital stays and/or histories of substance abuse.
The Psychology Department consists of seven fully licensed, full-time staff members and one unlicensed, full-time staff member. Psychologists at MFHPC generally function as part of the interdisciplinary treatment team and provide individual and group therapy, in addition to conducting assessments of patients in a number of specialized areas. The Licensed Psychologists are responsible for completing Forensic Examinations in order to determine if a patient is dangerously mentally ill and requires services in a secure setting, as well as providing expert testimony in court. Additional evaluations that are undertaken by the department include intelligence testing, personality assessment and other assessments such as examinations for malingering symptoms, fitness to stand trial, and possible cognitive impairments that interfere with competency to stand trial.
Psychology interns will have the opportunity to be part of an interdisciplinary team on each of their two rotations during the year. A treatment team generally consists of a psychiatrist, nurse, social worker, psychologist, and direct care staff. Interns will be required to attend morning rounds and other team meetings and participate in treatment planning. Interns are responsible for providing individual therapy for a caseload of 3-5 patients, co-leading at least two treatment groups per week, developing treatment plans, and conducting psychological assessments. Interns will complete a minimum of five supervised psychological assessment batteries within the training year which may include cognitive and achievement assessment, neuropsychological assessment, and personality assessment. In addition, interns will have the opportunity to be trained in conducting risk assessments utilizing the HCR-20v3 under direct supervision.
A unique aspect of our training site is the opportunity for interns to observe various aspects of the forensic process for patients served at this facility. Interns will have the opportunity to observe licensed psychologist and psychiatrist conduct forensic evaluations related to assessing a patient’s fitness to stand trial, assessing a patient’s risk related to dangerousness as that is legally defined, assessing needed level of care, among other forensic and related questions posed. Similarly, interns are able to attend court proceedings to observe psychology and psychiatry staff provide expert testimony. This unique opportunity for students provides an in-person introduction into how the judicial system operates in relation to mental hygiene laws and provides introduction into how clinicians may be involved in this system.
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