There are limits to your confidentiality when talking to a psychologist. Some of these are determined by law, others by Bureau policy. Questions regarding those limits can be raised when you speak to a psychologist individually.
All inmates are seen for an intake interview with a psychologist. The purpose of the intake interview is to assess your current psychological functioning and any needs you might have for services. After the interview, the psychologist prepares a brief written report for your psychology and central files.
A psychologist is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not uncommon for people to experience depression and hopelessness while in jail or prison, particularly if they are newly incarcerated, are serving a long sentence, are experiencing family problems or problems getting along with other inmates, or receive bad news. Sometimes, inmates consider committing suicide due to all of the pressure they are under. If you are feeling suicidal contact a staff member so that the on-call psychologist can be paged. If you have concerns about another inmate, please bring this to the attention of staff. Staff do not always see what you see, and your efforts may make a difference. The Psychology Department employs a small number of qualified inmates as suicide watch companions. These inmates are trained by in appropriate watch procedures as well as suicide prevention. Watch for posting advertising for these positions.
Individual counseling services are available for any inmate experiencing family, interpersonal, adjustment or other personal concerns. Educational and therapeutic groups are also offered addressing particular topics like stress management, anger management, and dealing with other people.
Medications for mental health problems are provided through Health Services. Psychology services will, however, follow inmates who hold prescriptions for psychotropic medications, including anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-psychotic medication. A psychologist will monitor how you are doing and will help you address any problems that arise with your medications or your adjustment. If you hold such a prescription, you should bring up any problems that arise with a psychologist.
The Bureau offers substance abuse rehabilitation programs as well as self help groups. These are:
- Drug Education is an educational course run by psychology. This course outlines the effects that alcohol and particular drugs can have on a person’s body, their behavior, their interpersonal relationships, and their community. Under certain circumstances inmates are required to complete this course. If you are required and you don’t meet the requirement the Bureau can hold your pay to the lowest pay grade and can deny you community programs such as halfway house.
- Non-Residential Drug Abuse Treatment is for individuals with diagnosed substance abuse problems. Inmate’s may be enrolled in one or more groups and these groups may be supplemented by individual counseling sessions as appropriate. The overall effort is designed to help inmates avoid relapse into alcohol or illicit drug use following release.
- Residential Drug Abuse Treatment is for individuals with diagnosed substance abuse problems which can be verified. The program again aims to help inmates avoid relapse into alcohol or illicit drug use following release. Some inmates who complete this program are eligible for a sentence reduction. It is offered toward the end of your sentence so that the material is fresh for you upon release. To apply for the program you need to have less than 36 months but more than 24 months left on your sentence. You need to submit a request to be interviewed. If you qualify you will be transferred to another institution which has the program.
In addition to the above, self-help programs [i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)], are available for inmate participation. These programs are monitored by the Drug Treatment Specialist and usually meet once a week. They are available to any interested inmate.
The Bureau offers a treatment program for sex offenders. The program is voluntary and is located at another facility that you would be transferred to. If you are interested in such a program contact a psychologist and an appointment will be set up to talk about the program, its expectations, and the participation agreement you would sign.