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Oklahoma Forensic Center

Location: Vinita, Oklahoma
Mailing address: P.O. Box 69, Vinita, OK 74301
Funding: $19,500
Time on site: 36 hrs.
Primary on-site supervisor(s): Samina Christopher, Ph.D.; Scott Orth, Psy.D.; Peter Rausch, Ph.D.
Contact person: Samina R. Christopher, Ph.D., Director of Forensic Psychology

Oklahoma Forensic Center (OFC) is the largest inpatient behavioral health facility in the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services system. It is located in a rural area of Oklahoma, about 60 miles northeast of Tulsa, and serves all 77 counties of Oklahoma as the only inpatient forensic facility. OFC serves both men and women with 200 inpatient beds, a mock courtroom, group rooms, and other areas important for treatment, such as recreational areas. OFC serves two populations: 1) pretrial defendants who were deemed incompetent for adjudication, and 2) individuals adjudicated as Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI). In addition, OFC provides initial outpatient evaluations of adjudicative competency for a multitude of counties.

Interns at OFC are viewed as important members of the psychology staff at OFC. Interns work closely with individual supervisors, following a developmental model of supervision, gaining increasing levels of responsibility and independence as competency in providing direct clinical services is demonstrated. Interns have opportunities to gain input and knowledge from a variety of mental health professionals and disciplines throughout OFC. Additionally, interns also occasionally provide education to OFC staff through presentation on forensic evaluations. A variety of opportunities for general clinical and forensic practice are available and training experiences are tailored to meet the intern’s individual goals and interests. Assessment is a primary area for training, including evaluations of adjudicative competency and dangerousness as the most common. There is also ample opportunity for generalist types of assessment, including testing for personality, psychopathology, cognitive functioning (including neuropsychological screening), malingering, etc. In addition, the Psychology Department is often called upon to assist with diagnostic screening or other general referral questions. The intern is exposed to a wide number of testing materials, with emphasis placed on appropriate selection, administration, scoring, interpretation and report writing. In addition, as opportunities arise the intern is exposed to the process of courtroom testimony by observing supervisors, occasionally in a case they co-authored. Interns are also involved in both individual and group therapy during the course of the year, leading groups and conducting some limited short-term and/or long-term individual therapy. Groups typically focus on competency restoration, process, and psycho-educational topics, such as coping skills, anger management, substance abuse treatment, managing mental illness, etc. Interns are encouraged to develop and implement groups that fit their specific areas of interest, although empirically supported treatment manuals are available, as are materials from the many structured groups OFC has offered throughout the years. Due to the diversity and quantity of assessment and treatment opportunities available at OFC, interns are able to develop and hone a broad base of skills during their pre-doctoral internship year.

Consistent with the Practitioner-Scholar model, OFC places high importance on using science and research to inform clinical practice. As an intern at OFC, you will find that we routinely distribute and discuss the current literature and value how science can inform practice. We are not only committed to research (e.g., OFC was one of the sites for the original standardization of the Mac-CAT-CA), but also process improvement. The Psychology Department at OFC has routinely completed performance improvement projects that guide our practice. For example, the following process improvements projects have been completed:

  • 2003: identified and implemented a model report format for competency evaluations based on national and local standards, as outlined in the literature
  • 2004: developed and implemented a research-based competency restoration treatment program, whose materials have been distributed throughout the United States
  • 2005: developed a system of monitoring group therapy offered at OFC and developed group materials for a variety of psycho-educational groups
  • 2005: assessed Oklahoma’s legal satisfaction with OFC services, demonstrating high overall satisfaction with our competency evaluations and forensic examiners
  • 2007: developed a comprehensive model of violence risk assessment, based on the literature utilizing the best practices in the field
  • 2009: evaluated the effectiveness of OFC’s individual competency restoration program and made changes based on outcomes
  • 2009: developed a system to facilitate timely referral of patients for both competency evaluations and treatment
  • 2011-2012: evaluated the utilization and quality of our psycho-educational groups and made changes based on outcomes

To learn more about the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, go to www.odmhsas.org

 
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