Vicarious trauma and occupational hazard for forensic mental health professionals

Vicarious trauma or vicarious traumatization is the effects on a health-care worker that results from the empathic engagement or therapeutic relationship with clients or patients and their reports of traumatic experiences. The term was coined in response to the experience of psychotherapists working with trauma survivors and is widely attributed to McCann and Pearlman 1990 [1]. They developed a constructivist self-development theory discussing therapist reactions to clients’ traumatic material. They described that vicarious trauma can be understood as related to the graphic and painful material trauma clients portray to the therapists as well as the therapists unique cognitive schemas or beliefs and assumptions about self and others [1]. This theory has developed, has subsequently been described as compassion fatigue and has been subject to a considerable amount of research since this early description [2-18]. It has also focused on various professionals, including mental health professionals, and their vulnerability from working with a variety of clients or patients [4-6,8-10,12-14,19]. In this context, forensic mental health professionals are not specifically mentioned, although it is quite clear that the nature of the work that they do would make them vulnerable to vicarious trauma and “compassion fatigue.”

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Psychiatric admissions: The first law in Saudi Arabia

The Mental Health Care Law in Saudi Arabia was passed in 2014. This paper focuses on the articles of the law that are related to psychiatric admissions both voluntary and involuntary. The mental health-care law is similar to the laws in western countries. However, these articles and subsections are curtailed to the limited health systems and to the local culture. As the mental health-care system and culture evolves, the mental health-care law will be modified in the future.

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Kratom-Induced Psychosis: Case report and literature investigation

Substance use disorder is a major concern for public health. Legal substances are often misused to get high. Beside the risk of developing subsequent mental health and physical conditions, one of major risk is related to behavioural changes leading to criminal behaviour. Some of these substances need regulation to ensure public as well as individual safety. This article is a case report describing Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) induced psychosis in a patient suffering from Schizophrenia. We hope this article can bring attention to regulating bodies about the risks associated with readily available “legal” drugs like Kratom.

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Jail segregation today, hospital seclusion tomorrow

There has been a lot of attention given to the use of segregation in correctional facilities, sufficient that a number of class action lawsuits have been launched, and in many cases, they have been settled. Psychiatrists and psychiatry in general have mostly watched these issues play out from the sidelines. Segregation occurs in correctional facilities and few psychiatrists work in jails and prisons. Although mental health professionals watched with interest and concern, it remained an issue in correctional settings, not in our house. In the last few decades psychiatry has done a lot of work in reducing seclusion in hospitals. The tracking of seclusion, the requirements for reassessment and seclusion justification, along with improved training of staff about the traumatic effects of seclusion have helped in reducing seclusion rates and the length of individual seclusions. Psychiatry has done well in this regard and hence it would not be surprising that many may think that the issues associated with seclusion have been dealt with. This may be an error for the following reasons.

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Battered woman syndrome: Updating the expert checklist

The aim of this article is to examine the current state of the battered woman syndrome (BWS) defence in Canada and propose an update to the list of factors considered by experts evaluating the applicability of the defence to individual cases. The history and current legal definition of the defence are presented, and theories relating to BWS are summarized. Factors required of expert testimony in BWS cases are presented; cases relevant to the development of the defence that highlights these assessment factors are discussed. In a subsequent section, limitations of the defence and the role of the expert are explored. The PTSD Checklist (used in clinician diagnosis) is summarized before an updated, BWS-specific expert checklist is proposed. The updated checklist proposes six elements to be considered by an expert assessing a BWS case: 1. environmental factors, 2. attempts to leave or alter the situation, 3. risk factors of the abuser, 4. risk factors of the victim, 5. triggers for violence, and 6. contrary evidence. It is hoped that using this checklist will help experts to cover all the essential elements they must consider in order to conclude that a woman satisfies the criteria for BWS. In particular, this updated checklist will help experts to prepare comprehensive testimony that addresses the five issues defined by Justice Wilson as the expert’s duty to assess. In addition, this checklist will help experts present a firm foundation for a defence regarding the critical question of why the night of the offence was different from all other nights.

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Clinicians’ Perceptions of the Implementation of the Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for Violence Risk (SAPROF) on an Inpatient Forensic Unit

The Structured Assessment of PROtective Factors for Violence Risk (SAPROF) is an assessment tool that examines protective factors when assessing violence risk. There is limited research on clinicians’ perceptions of the use and implementation of risk assessment tools, and this study aimed to examine the experiences of clinicians using the SAPROF in a low secure forensic rehabilitation inpatient unit in Canada. An exploratory research design was used, and five clinicians participated in semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed using a thematic approach and three central themes were identified: “understanding of the patient from a strengths-based point of view, providing clinicians with a focus on how to help the patient, and bringing in opportunities to collaborate as a team”. The findings highlight the additional value of the SAPROF as a tool in helping forensic teams to adopt strengths- based approaches to risk assessment, enhancing treatment planning, and inter- professional collaboration.

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Comparaison franco-canadienne du développement des Cercles de soutien et de responsabilité (CSR) pour la prévention du risque de récidive des délinquants sexuels

Les Cercles de Soutien et de Responsabilité (CSR), nés il y a 24 ans à Hamilton au Canada pour répondre à l’inquiétude du public provoquée par le retour des délinquants sexuels dans la société après leur libération, se développent partout dans le monde. Ils proposent l’accompagnement de l’agresseur dans sa réinsertion sociale. Efficaces dans les pays étrangers, ces dispositifs se développent lentement en France. L’objectif de cet article est de tenter d’expliquer les freins à l’implantation des CSR en France au regard des difficultés rencontrées lors des expériences françaises passées et actuelles, mais aussi des différences interculturelles entre la France et le Canada.

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Absconsion from forensic psychiatric institutions: A review of the literature

Absconding from mental health units is referred to as a patient leaving without permission and can have significant consequences for the patient, family, community, and institution. The varying definitions of absconsion involve breaching security of an inpatient unit, accessing grounds or community without permission, gaining liberty during escorted leave or being absent for longer than permitted from authorized or trial leave. While considerable literature exists on absconsion from acute psychiatric units, there is a paucity of literature specific to forensic absconsions, despite inherent differences between patients and systems. Forensic patients are offenders who are found unfit to stand trial, or not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. The literature indicates the absconding rate within the forensic population is expected to be low, based on the fact that the level of security in forensic units is higher than general psychiatric units. Despite the rates being considered low, the outcomes of absconding in this population can potentially be serious, thus the exploration of factors surrounding these incidents is essential. Purpose: To review the literature regarding absconsion from forensic psychiatric institutions. This review will identify potential risk factors and motivations of forensic patients that have absconded. Methods: Electronic database and hand searches were conducted to locate articles pertaining to absconding specific to forensic psychiatric institutions published from 1969-present. Search terms included “abscond”, “escape”, “AWOL”, “runaway”, “psychiatric inpatient”, “forensic institution”, & variants. All full-text articles meeting inclusion & exclusion criteria were appraised for qualitative themes, limitations, and assessed for risk of bias using appropriate CASP Checklists. The review is structured following the PRISMA checklist and framework. Results: A total of 19 articles meeting literature review criteria were identified. The majority of the articles were of retrospective case-control design (n=12). Three systematic reviews were found on absconsion that included analyses from both forensic and general psychiatric populations. Definitions for absconding were omitted or varied making comparisons between studies difficult. Much research compared demographic, static and dynamic factors. History of previous absconsion, scores on validated risk-of-violence assessment tools, substance-use disorder, acute mental state, and socio-environmental factors were consistently noted as risk-factors. Four distinct motivations for absconding emerged: goal- directed, frustration/boredom, symptomatic, and accidental. Overall, the literature suggested forensic absconsion was a rare event of short duration with low risk to the public and few re- offending incidents. Conclusions: There is a paucity of literature on forensic absconsions. A consistent definition of absconsion and use of standardized reporting protocols across forensic programs would be beneficial in order to be able to compare data on absconding events. Also, prospective studies should be undertaken to better understand the motivations and dynamic risk factors of forensic patients who have absconded and would help inform a forensic absconsion risk assessment protocol.

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