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Assessing forensic risk: a psychodynamic approach

Suitable for a wide range of practitioners and clinicians, Assessing forensic risk: a psychodynamic approach offers an innovative framework for understanding the subtle and complex issues involved in assessing and managing the risk of violence and sexual offending. Hear from our course lead Dr Muzaffar Husain.

The ten-week course introduces a “narrative” element to the usual structured and semi-structured risk assessment tools – inviting participants to consider some of the principles of psychoanalytic thinking and applied psychoanalysis when undertaking risk assessment and management.

As course lead Dr Muzaffar Husain explains, “what that essentially involves is looking at formulation-driven methodologies – looking at the unconscious, the dynamic unconscious, early childhood experiences, and look at finding the offender as well as the victim in all our patients”.

Under Dr Husain’s guidance, the course has been expanded and updated in recent years – introducing a range of new themes and topics “which needed to be included in any current, contemporary assessment of risk” – including online offending, stalking, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, and delinquency in adolescence. Many of these subjects are both fascinating and sinister, requiring “quite a bit of finesse and thinking through”.

Structured around a series of lectures and discussion groups, the course benefits from the knowledge and experience of a group of expert speakers. For Dr Husain, it’s all about “balance”: “I think there’s more to it than just reading; you need an active, live experience of being in the presence of senior clinicians who work with such patients, who you can engage with, and relate to, who can put themselves in your shoes”.

And discussion isn’t limited to the usual reading material, but encompasses literature, film and other media, “which can be very usefully harnessed in illuminating some of the dark places that these offenders go to”.

Participants come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, spanning health care, social care, criminal justice, private therapy and more, and all participants bring rich insights to the group – “especially therapists who work with young people, because a lot of the topics that we touch upon have to do with young people”, adds Dr Husain.

Want to learn more?

If your work brings you into contact with individuals who present a risk to themselves or to others, Assessing forensic risk: a psychodynamic approach will offer fresh and valuable perspectives on risk assessment, symptoms, offending and enactment, which you can apply directly to your practice.

You may work in a variety of settings, such as generic mental health services, social care, forensic mental health or the criminal justice system.

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