Psychologists provide quality psychological services, including clinical and risk assessment and treatment services to offenders and referral to appropriate agencies where necessary.
Meet Clinical Psychologist Karina Perry
I work at the Matapuna Special Treatment Unit (STU) in Christchurch Men's Prison. We assess and provide treatment for adult offenders who are at high risk of re-offending in a violent or sexual way upon release.
A registered psychologist and a programme facilitator provide group treatment for up to 10 offenders in each group. Additional individual treatment can address treatment barriers or additional areas of risk. The treatment programme covers areas such as cognitive restructuring, relationship and communication skills, lifestyle balance, managing emotions, alcohol and drugs and safety planning.
The Matapuna STU functions as a therapeutic community based on respect, collaboration, openness, responsibility and support. All programme participants attend a weekly 'community of change' meeting with custodial and therapy staff. This offers a forum for offenders to give each other feedback on progress and to discuss issues or positive events.
Important aspects of motivating individual change are:
- constructive use of peer group influence
- encouraging offenders to take responsibility
- re-socialisation and role modelling pro-social behaviour.
Another important aspect of the STU is focusing on reintegration. A reintegration coordinator works with the group therapists to develop reintegration plans to address the specific reintegration risks for each offender. Programme graduates are supported by the reintegration coordinator and therapists to develop relationships with whanau and outside agencies who can offer support on release.
I enjoy the wide variety of roles that I have within an STU, including:
- assessing and managing individual prisoner risk issues in prison and planning for these upon release
- working closely with offenders and their support people to manage their risk of re-offending
- providing group treatment, which is interesting, challenging and dynamic.
In addition I work closely with the custody team who support the therapeutic focus by providing invaluable support and feedback to programme participants. We are constantly thinking about long-term safety and the need to provide offenders with the required skills to stay on the right side of the law once they are released.
Every day is different and there are always new challenges and new things to learn. What I enjoy most is seeing offenders make changes during treatment. This happens differently for each person and can include reconnecting with family, developing an understanding of their offence process or the impacts of their offending on others, becoming motivated to be positive influences in their children's lives or wanting to be functioning and helpful members of the community on release.
Psychologists are part of a professional team which provides effective service delivery. Clinical and forensic psychologists are based in specific office locations or Special Treatment Units.
Frequently asked questions
Read the answers to the following questions:
- What is the salary range?
- I have a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, am I suitable?
- I have a Masters Degree in Psychology but I am not registered, am I suitable?
- I am an overseas applicant, can I still apply?
- What types of professional work would I engage in if I obtain employment with the Department?