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Graduate Students' Experiences, Interests, and Attitudes Toward Correctional/Forensic Psychology

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2007 Pages: 96-107
Robert D. Morgan; Amanda M. Beer; Katherine L. Fitzgerald; Jon T. Mandracchia
Date Published
January 2007
12 pages
Using survey data obtained from 175 graduate students representing 30 clinical and 29 counseling psychology programs, this study examined the availability of correctional and forensic psychology training for these students and their experiences and attitudes toward working with offenders.
Nearly half of the students had access to mentors with specialized skills and research interests in correctional and forensic psychology, as well as training opportunities that included work in correctional and/or forensic psychology. The majority of the students had worked with clients with histories of juvenile delinquency, criminal behavior, and confinement, or who met the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Approximately 17 percent of the students planned to pursue a career in correctional or forensic psychology, and approximately 27 percent indicated they would consider such a career; 24 percent of students indicated they planned to pursue predoctoral internships in correctional or forensic psychology, and approximately 32 percent indicated they would consider such internship possibilities. Respondents generally perceived mental health work with offenders as interesting and challenging. The counseling doctoral students were recruited from the 77 counseling doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The clinical doctoral students were recruited from 77 randomly selected APA-accredited clinical psychology doctoral programs. There were 37 male respondents and 136 female respondents. The four sections of the questionnaire pertained to demographic data; previous practicum experiences, including correctional and forensic experiences, and client characteristics; academic program and training opportunities in correctional and forensic psychology; and respondents' educational opportunities and potential interest in corrections and forensic career opportunities. 2 tables and 21 references