Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting


Assignment 1: Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

Correctional psychology is a specialty area within the field of forensic psychology. Work in this setting can present specific challenges for evaluators and treatment providers. For example, a psychology professional working in a corrections facility might serve in dual roles with clients since he or she will likely provide them treatment and evaluate them for early release, risk for dangerousness, and to make recommendations for postrelease conditions. This assignment will introduce you to the specific challenges faced while writing a risk assessment report on a client you have treated during his or her incarceration and presenting the data to the parole board for the purpose of early release. The client has served two years of his four-year sentence for aggravated assault; during this period, he or she has made significant progress, while under your care, with impulse control, anger management, and the ability to challenge his or her criminal thought patterns. You have conducted your risk assessment and are now ready to write your report. Before you write your report, you will have to think about these important factors. Discuss them in your initial post.


Using your textbook and Argosy University online library resources, respond to the following in a minimum of 200 words:

The APA stance on dual relationships for psychology professionals in a correctional setting

The inherent conflict a psychology professional in a corrections setting might experience by being in the dual role of a treatment provider and an evaluator

The individual client factors that might influence prerelease decisions made by psychology professionals in a corrections setting

Sample paper

Conflicting Roles in the Forensic Setting

 Forensic psychology professionals providing mental health services in correctional systems experience a dual role in their attempt to balance community rights and the offender rights. The American Psychological Association does not consider the dual relationships as unethical. However, the APA stipulates that psychology professionals avoid entering into multiple relationships if there is a chance that such relationships could impair their competence, objectivity, or effectiveness (Behnke, 2004). In addition, psychology professionals should not enter dual relationships if there is an apparent risk of harm to another individual.

Therapeutic roles and forensic assessments are often regarded incompatible. Psychotherapists aim at ensuring that the patient receives treatment (Erickson & Erickson, 2008). The psychotherapist involved in treatment provision acts as a patient’s advocate. Psychotherapists involved in treatment are generally aligned in favor of their patients. This is because they have a responsibility to safeguard the patient’s welfare. This becomes a major source of conflict due to the objective/evaluative divide. As an evaluator, the psychology professional is has a responsibility to be objective and to provide unbiased reports about the patient to the court. This brings about conflict of interest.

Some individual client factors may affect the prelease decisions that psychology professionals make regarding clients. Certain factors such as the ability to maintain good discipline within the institution may limit the days of stay in the correctional facility. Another factor is the type of prognosis given during supervision, which may largely depend on the client’s attitude. Another important factor is the risk of future crime behavior among the client. If there is a high risk that the client may engage in criminal behavior in future, the period of stay in the correctional facility may be extended. Lastly, the psychological professional examines whether treatment outcomes were achieved during the session (Farabee, Knight, Garner, & Calhoun, 2007).


Behnke, S. (2004). Multiple relationships and APA’s new ethics code: values and applications.    American Psychological Association, 35(1): 66.

Erickson, P. E., & Erickson, S. K. (2008). Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness : Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Farabee, D., Knight, K., Garner, B. R., & Calhoun, S. (2007). The inmate prerelease assessment for reentry planning. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(9): 1188-1197.


Forensic Assessment Report Writing