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A great day recording for DD310

A great day recording for DD310

This morning I went to a sound studio in London to record a round table discussion, for an audio to be used as a resource for DD310. The plan for the audio was to complement the first chapter in our module textbook Mad or Bad: A Critical Approach to Counselling and Forensic Psychology on the tensions between therapeutic and forensics settings, and discuss a number of issues that therapist have to deal with. Taking part in the discussions were Fiona Ballantyne Dykes, who is the Head of Qualifications at the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB) and Mary Haley who is the Head of Psychotherapy for HMP Grendon, which is a therapeutic men’s prison. The audio was produced by Morgan Phillips from the production company AngleEye Media. The aim of the audio was to discuss the differences between therapy with members of the general public and therapy with offenders in prison, the tensions of giving therapy in a forensic setting, such as a prison.

Below are some photos taken by Morgan of Suzi Roberts from The Sound Company, the recording studio in London, setting us up for the recording. Mary is on the left, Fiona is on the right, and I am in the middle.

Mary_fiona    Mary_fiona2

The round table discussion had loose areas we were interested in and also some specific questions for Mary and Fiona. We were interested in finding out what the average client is like, what types of problems they have and what approaches the Fiona and Mary use when helping them. Fiona comes from the humanist perspective where the ethos is that sessions are very much client led and the client knows the answers to their own problem, but the role as a therapist is to guide them to those answers. Whilst Fiona comes more from a psychotherapist background with particular focus on attachment theory, this explores the relationships formed in childhood and how they influence later life.

We were also interested in issues such as confidentiality, consent, disclosure and risk and how much this varies from a therapeutic setting as compared to the forensic setting of a prison. Initially before the discussions began I thought that there would be a real contrast in working as a therapist in a prison as compared to a therapeutic practice or agency.

However, as the discussions developed it became apparent that there were more similarities in working as a therapist in these two settings as compared to differences. Both Fiona and Mary had very experiences in relation to confidentiality, risk to themselves and the client, disclosure and self-disclosure. Both Mary and Fiona also raised the importance of having supervision, that is having a supervisor to talk to about their clients, almost like the therapist’s therapist, but to only talk about clients rather than other issues.

Towards the end of the session Mary also raised a really interesting point about the paradox of giving therapy in a prison, where on the one hand you are trying to help someone overcome problems in their life and help them heal, whilst on the other hand they are in a place that’s main purpose if to punish them. This appeared to be one of the major differences in working as a therapist in a forensic setting as compared to a therapeutic setting, there were lots of other fascinating topics that came up, but you will need to wait until you listen to the whole audio in Week 2 of the module. I hope you enjoy listening to the audio and find it as interesting as I did making it and hearing about Fiona and Mary’s experiences.

Making a new OU module

by Catriona Havard (DD310 Module Team Co-Chair)

After being a Psychology lecturer at the Open University (OU) for nearly 4 years I am being given the opportunity to chair a module in production. For those of you not familiar with OU speak, that means I am going to be in charge of making a brand new module, along with my co-chair Andreas Vossler and the rest of the people on the module team. The module we are creating is DD310 Counselling and Forensic Psychology: Investigating Crime and Therapy. It is a level 3 module which will be compulsory for students studying the Forensic Psychology, Psychology with Counselling, Psychology & Law, and Criminology & Psychology degrees, and an optional module for students studying the Psychology degree. My expertise comes from the Forensic Psychology side, and Andreas Vossler is the Counselling academic expert. We are also very lucky to have a fantastic group of other academics such as Graham Pike, Meg John Barker, Bianca Raabe and Zoe Walkington on the module team, as well as a number of other support staff.

We had our first meeting yesterday with representatives from the Faculty of Social Science, and a briefing of some of the things we need to keep in mind whilst creating the module. There were so many different issues that we need to be aware of before can jump into making the module. It’s really exciting to be involved in creating something from scratch, that is not just new to the Open University, but new to the field of Psychology more generally, as most courses do not combine forensic and counselling psychology, although there does appear to be a growing need to study both of these topics. In making DD310 we want our students to be as excited and fascinated by the materials they study, as we were making them. As the module combines both forensic and counselling psychology we need to consider what will be interesting for students studying either subject (e.g. Forensic Psychology, or Psychology with Counselling degrees) so they will enjoy the whole module and not just the parts that are specific to their degrees.

The content is just one of many issues we need to consider, and up until the meeting yesterday I hadn’t been aware of all the other things that we need to think about when planning our new module. There are issues such as accessibility, which is ensuring everyone can access the materials in some format regardless of whether they have any visual or auditory impairment. There is student workload to consider, that is planning how much time students should spend on activities and reading each week, and also including time for assessments and any revision. We also have to think about what types of resources we need to find or create, such as a textbook, films, podcasts or even using animations, to make the module exciting and interesting to study. We need to decide how many and what types of assessments should be included, whether to have an end of module exam or project. Some of the issues we need to think about also involve taking into consideration what students might be doing on other modules around the same time. For example, if students are also doing DE300 which is the level 3 core Psychology module, then they will have a large independent research project they need to complete, so is it really sensible to ask them to do another one DD310, maybe an exam might be better?

Perhaps you, like me are starting to realise that creating an OU module includes an awful lot more than you initially thought that it would. Creating DD310 includes a vast amount of planning, and looking at many different factors, rather than simply deciding what topics the module will cover. One of the purposes of this blog is to get some feedback from you as Open University students, about what you might like to see in the new module we are creating. Do you have any comments or queries about the new DD310 module? Are there topics you were expecting to see, or wanted to learn about? How do you think you learn best about a new topic (reading, seeing, doing)? Is there any aspect of a previous module you studied that you really enjoyed, or helped you learn, that you would like to see on a new module? Hopefully by taking on students’ comments we can further improve of modules right from the start.