Elise, Psychologist in Youth Justice
Provide a brief overview of your role
I work for the Youth Health and Rehabilitation Service (YHaRS) as a Forensic Psychologist. YHaRS is a consortium comprising St Vincent’s, YSAS and Caraniche and services young people aged approximately between 12 and 21 years old in who have been in trouble with the law. The Rehabilitation Services Team, employed by Caraniche, is made up of 16 psychologists who work within custody (Parkville and Malmsbury) and community regions across Victoria. Most of my clients are located in the north and western suburbs of Melbourne and are either on Parole or a Community Based Order. We work collaboratively to reduce risk of reoffending as well as address mental health concerns.
What inspired you to work with Youth Justice?
I studied Forensic Psychology at University and believe that early intervention into offending behaviour and mental health difficulties is key in improving the quality of life of young people.
What have you found most challenging about your role at YJ?
The young people we work with have unique challenges including complex trauma and disadvantage. Engaging clients and assisting them to make changes, often whilst living in difficult circumstances, can be challenging. Working with young people is very different to working with adults but we have a great team and we support and learn from each other.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Every day is different and there is a lot of variation in the work. There is a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction when you are able to build a therapeutic relationship with a young person, who may not have had many secure and healthy relationships before. Building supportive and trusting relationships with the young people is paramount in supporting them to make changes in their life.
Provide a brief overview of your role at Caraniche
Over the past six months I have been working in the graduate clinic at Caraniche’s head office in Abbotsford. The clients we see are involved with the criminal justice system and have an addiction to one or more types of substances. In the clinic we provide focused treatment to assist our clients’ in overcoming these addictions, as well as providing other necessary psychological care. As a team, we often share resources and ideas with each other and are provided with ample supervision from a senior clinician who makes herself available beyond scheduled supervision times. My experience in the graduate clinic has led me to consider future career options with forensic populations.
What have you learnt during your time in this role?
During my time in this role the notion that individuals need to be viewed holistically has been reinforced. People do not develop addictions or mental illness in a vacuum. It is important to view and convey to clients that you as a clinician do not see them merely as their addiction/mental illness. I believe this is important in all areas of mental health and when interacting with people in general.
What have you found most challenging about this role?
The clients seen at Caraniche have very complex backgrounds and often present with co-morbid mental illnesses and difficulties. Given the somewhat limited duration of treatment, it has been important that together with the client we focus on what’s achievable and most important at present, whilst accepting that some work needs to be left for another time and place.
What have you enjoyed most about your time at Caraniche
What I have enjoyed most about my time at Caraniche has been the combination of a challenging and complex clientele coupled with a very supportive environment. Not only has supervision been readily available and personalised, the entire team at Caraniche is always happy to help out in whatever way possible. The stimulating work, together with a supportive atmosphere, has led to a very fulfilling time in the Caraniche Graduate Clinic.
Interested in starting your career at Caraniche? Please visit the Graduate Clinic for more information.