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Correctional Mental Health

Presented By Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD | Ashley Batastini, PhD
Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD Ashley Batastini, PhD

4 Hours | 4 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Correctional Mental Health is presented by Virginia Barber-Rioja, Ph.D., and Ashley Batastini, Ph.D.

The U.S. incarcerates far more people than any other country in the world. The incarcerated population is overrepresented by people of color, LGBTQ persons, and people with extensive behavioral health needs, including mental health, substance use, and trauma-related disorders. Specifically, individuals with mental illness account for a significantly large proportion of those incarcerated, making jails the largest psychiatric treatment facilities in the country.

The U.S. correctional system provides plenty of opportunities for mental health professionals to contribute their science as clinicians, researchers, and policy advocates. Adequate mental health interventions are essential to prevent suicide and violence, mitigate stress, and overall increase the chances of rehabilitation and recovery. However, the delivery of mental health services in correctional settings is challenging, and resources are often limited. Furthermore, even though mental health practice and research in correctional settings require specialized knowledge, correctional clinicians, administrators, and scholars have few resources to guide their practice.

This program provides an overview of the practice of correctional mental health. The program starts with an overview of the U.S. The correctional system, including the difference between jails and prisons and different systems of incarceration (e.g., state, federal, immigration, military). The program reviews the different competencies required for clinical practice and research in jails and prisons, including screening and assessment, treatment, management of suicidal and violent behaviors, and ethical issues and professional values. This program is primarily based on didactic content. However, for selected topics, the presenters incorporate case studies.

The key topics include:

  • Introduction to the US Correctional System:
    • Jails vs. prisons and different systems of incarceration
    • Mass incarceration
    • Overrepresentation of behavioral health issues in incarcerated individuals
    • Constitutional rights to treatment of incarcerated individuals
  • Roles of mental health professionals in jails/prisons
  • Correctional mental health: relevant areas of competency
    • screening and assessment
    • treatment
    • management of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and other suicidal behaviors
    • management of disruptive/violent behaviors
    • management of substance use disorders
    • management of trauma-related clinical presentations
  • Restrictive housing
  • Multicultural, structural, and racial inequality considerations
  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Research and advocacy

This program is intended for early mental health professionals who want to work in jails/prisons or currently work in jails/prisons; students interested in pursuing a career in correctional mental health or completing practicums in jails/prisons; or academics who want to pursue research in jails/prisons.

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Describe the U.S correctional system and the overrepresentation of individuals with behavioral health issues within this system

Describe the different roles that mental health professionals can play within the US correctional system

Describe the different competencies required to practice correctional mental health and to conduct research in jails/prisons

Describe the ethical and legal issues involved in the practice of correctional mental health


Presented By

Virginia Barber-Rioja, PhD

Virginia Barber-Rioja obtained her Ph.D. in clinical forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. For 7 years, she worked in the NYC jail system holding the positions of Co-Chief and Clinical Director of Mental Health and Assistant Chief of Forens...

Presented By

Ashley Batastini, PhD

Dr. Ashley Batastini earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas Tech University and is currently an Associate Professor in the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research emphasis is broadly at the intersection between the mental health and c...


1. The Correctional Mental Health Landscape

2. Best Practices in Assessment and Treatment

3. Research in Correctional Mental Health

Develop a Specialty Area of Practice

Transforming mental health professionals into experts

Expert Instructors

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CE Credit

Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

Convenience & Flexibility

Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!