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McGauley, G. (2015). Increasing the pro-social and decreasing risk; an overarching aim of forensic psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Psychother., 29(3):205-210.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 29(3):205-210


Increasing the pro-social and decreasing risk; an overarching aim of forensic psychotherapy

Gill McGauley

A senior clinician once said to me ‘I don't know what you do’. Sadly, the speaker's enquiry did not arise from clinical curiosity or a wish to understand. This issue of the Journal is the first of two dedicated to the discipline of forensic psychotherapy. Across these first six papers the authors do describe what we, as forensic psychotherapists, do; how we try to do it; the effect on our patients and on us and the reaction of the systems and institutions in which we work. I am delighted to be a guest co-editor.

Forensic psychotherapy refers to the application of psychoanalytic principles and treatment in the service of understanding, treating and caring for mentally disordered offenders (Welldon, 1994). Why should we be interested in these men and women that, in the main, we lock away? In England and Wales, we live in a society that has the highest rate of imprisonment per head of population in the old European Union (Walmsley, 2003) and 9 out of 10 prisoners have at least one mental disorder but co-morbidity is the norm (Singleton, Meltzer, Gatward, Coid, & Deasy, 1997). We also detain considerable numbers of people in secure hospitals or units on Ministry of Justice Restriction Orders. We have suggested elsewhere (Bartlett & McGauley, 2010) that we need to be interested in what happens to those individuals while they are locked away and after they cease to be detained, not just because we are responsible professionals but because how we care for those individuals we deem to have transgressed societal rules may be important markers of our own humanity.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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