Psychologists and the Incarcerated: New Trainees' Experience in the Field

Daniel Edwards (2010)

The purpose of this study was to explore clinical psychologist trainees' perceptions of incarcerated individuals after a practicum experience at a local jail. A qualitative methodology, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, was utilized to explore subjective experiences and determine if participants' attitudes and beliefs were challenged with regard to rehabilitation of inmates and the value and efficacy of correctional psychology. Through semi-structured interviews, five psychology graduate students were asked to discuss the nature of their practicum experience at a jail in rural New Hampshire. Analyses of the interviews identified six common themes that reflected a shift or change in participants' attitudes, beliefs, and preconceptions about the possibility of inmate rehabilitation and the value of providing psychological services in a jail setting. Specifically, I anticipated that positive beliefs and attitudes about inmates' capacity for change and an increase in openness to working with this population would result from one-on-one and group interactions with incarcerated individuals. Because approximately