Psychological Interventions for Mental Health - What works in a Prison Setting?

Brief description of the event:

One day conference presenting the work of the Irish Prison Psychology Service in addressing the mental health needs of individuals in custody. Presentations will cover specific psychological models (e.g. Mentalization Based Therapy, Schema Therapy), provide outcome data on individual, group and systemic interventions, describe research being carried out in the Prison Psychology Service and provide an overview of the career opportunities open to psychology graduates, Assistant Psychologists and Qualified Psychologists who work for the Irish Prison Service.

9am Registration and Coffee
10am Welcome
Claire Moloney, Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
Alison Dillon, Chairperson PSI Early Graduate Group
10.10am Introduction to the IPS Psychology Service
Ms. Sarah Hume, Principal Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
10.30am Supporting the Mental Health Needs of Women in Custody
Dr. Maggie Mc Govern, Senior Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
11am Coffee Break
11.30am The Contribution of Psychology to the Training of Prison Officers
Governor Dave Clarke, Irish Prison Service Training College
11.45am Trauma Informed Practice in the National Violence Reduction Unit
Dr. Clare Kambemettu, Senior Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
12.10pm Lightening Presentations
Various presenters
12.40pm Questions and Answers
12.50pm Lunch
2pm Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT) in the IPS
Dr. Maura O’Sullivan, Senior Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
2.30pm Break
2.45pm The Role of Schema Therapy in Fostering Evidence Informed Criminal Justice Interventions and Policies
Mr. Brendan O’Connell, Senior Psychologist, Irish Prison Service
3.15pm The Self Harm Data Analysis (SADA) Project
Mr. Enda Kelly, Healthcare Manger & Ms. Sarah Hume Principal Psychologist IPS
3.45pm Questions and Answers
4pm Finish


Ms. Sarah Hume is a Principal Psychologist in the Irish Prison Service. Previously Ms. Hume worked in HM Prison Service for 5 years as a Psychologist. She qualified as an accredited psychotherapist in 2013 and as a Psychologist in 1998. Ms. Hume is responsible for the day to day management and delivery of the Psychology Service in the Irish Prison Service.

Dr. Maura E. O’Sullivan has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in the IPS for 22 years+. She is an adjunct lecturer in Psychology in UCC and is on the programme board of the Doctorate of Clinical Psychology programme in UCC.

Dr Maggie Mc Govern is the Senior Psychologist in The Dόchas Centre, Mountjoy Women’s Prison. She has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Ulster (UU) and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from University College Dublin (UCD) where she was originally awarded an entrance scholarship. Dr Mc Govern has a special interest in Mental Health as it relates to developmental trauma, exploitation and systemic frameworks. Dr Mc Govern has over ten years’ experience supporting Mental Health in at risk populations including those based in traumatised communities (e.g. West Belfast) and in secure settings such as Detention, Secure Care and Prisons. Dr Mc Govern is a longstanding advocate for trauma-responsive public services and increased access to specialised trauma intervention.

Dr. Clare Kambemettu, Senior Clinical Psychologist, National Violence Reduction Unit (NVRU), Midlands Prison, Portlaoise. Dr. Kambemettu graduated from the D.Clin. Psy Programme in NUIG in 2014 and has worked in a variety of HSE and IPS services across the lifespan since then. Her current role is Acting Senior Psychologist in Portlaoise Prison and the NVRU. She has a specialist interest in trauma-informed practice, attachment focused interventions and working with violent offenders.

Mr. Brendan O'Connell, Senior Counselling Psychologist, Castlerea Prison, Roscommon. Mr. O'Connell is a Senior Psychologist in the Service with twenty years’ experience working across the Health and Justice Departments. He has been an invited speaker at Tedx, APA Convention, PSI and Dáil Eireann in the area of cross-agency policy and intervention responses to promote resilience and recovery and address the evidenced chronic and enduring mental health challenges associated with trauma, marginalisation and social exclusion.

Governor Dave Clarke, Governor of Irish Prison Service Training College, Portlaoise.

Mr. Enda Kelly, Healthcare Manger, Irish Prison Service.

For whom:

Early Career Psychologists

What participants will learn:

This conference will:
- Describe the range and severity of mental health presentations encountered by a prison psychologist and how these are addressed
- Describe the therapeutic models which are used in the treatment of mental health issues of individuals in custody
- Share the findings of large and small scale research in the area of mental health being carried out by the Prison Psychology Service
- Provide access to the physical environment in which the prison psychologists works
- Highlight the contribution a Psychology Service can make to the overall functioning of a complex organisation and the training of Prison Officers
- Dispel some of the myths about working as a psychologist in a custodial setting

Knowledge acquired will include knowledge of:
- Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT), Schema Therapy and Trauma Informed Therapy
- Longitudinal MBT research project being carried out by the Irish Prison Psychology Service in collaboration with the Anna Freud Centre, London.
- How to approach complex adult mental health work with males and females in a forensic setting.
- Systemic interventions to address severe and enduring harmful behaviours
- A system-wide data collection protocol to inform suicidal and self harming behaviours among individuals in custody.
- Knowledge of psychologically informed training programmes for prison officers to improve their understanding of and response to mental health presentations among the prison population.
- Outcome data on effective group-based interventions for Complex Trauma among a prison population.


- Greater confidence in working with clients with complex presentations and forensic histories
- Increased understanding of severe and enduring mental health issues including Complex Trauma, Personality Disorder, Psychosis, Major Mood Disorder
- Improved awareness of the mental health research being carried out in custodial settings
- Awareness of therapeutic models known to be effective in the treatment of complex mental health clients
- Networking and a higher level of communication between psychologists working in the community and psychologists working in a custodial setting
- An improved understanding of how a Psychology Service can contribute to the effective running of an organisation and the training of non-mental health staff.

Methods of teaching and format of the event:

Presentations (20- 30 minute), lightening presentations (5 minutes), poster presentations and a tour of the Midlands Prison (TBC).

Qualifications and prior experience necessary:

Psychology degree. No prior experience necessary.

Fees & what is included
PSI Member rate: €30
PSI Student rate: €25
Non-member rate: €50

What is Included:

Light lunch, tea, coffee, biscuits. Copies of poster presentations. Tour of Midlands Prison available to a limited number of delegates (TBC).

Date: 6th May 2020

Time: 10am - 4pm

Venue: Irish Prison Service Training College, Portlaoise