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Forensic Psychiatry Services:

Sexual Behaviors Clinic and Lab (SBCL)

The MUSC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Sexual Behaviors Clinic and Lab (SBCL) is specifically designed and operates to evaluate human sexual behaviors to include paraphilias, for clinical, forensic, and research purposes.  The SBCL includes the use of clinical and forensic interviewing techniques with the capacity for digital audio and video recording; psychometric assessment, which is the use of psychological testing and data collection methods; physiological assessment to include penile plethysmography, visual reaction time assessment, polygraph examination, and through MUSC laboratory support biochemical laboratory studies.  The SBCL includes a penile plethysmography (PPG) examination lab certified as a "Clinical and Research Laboratory" by Limestone Technologies. The Research certification is the highest level possible.  It is one of only two such certified labs in South Carolina and one of the few on the East coast.  The SBCL is also one of the few labs in North America with the technical capacity to conduct photo-vaginal plethysmography, which will be operational for clinical, forensic, and research purposes in the near future.  Also soon to be offered through the SBCL are treatment services to include a medication management clinic employing antiandrogen and anti-gonadotropic medications for the treatment of paraphilias.

Progressive Professionals Program (PPP)

The Progressive Professionals Program (PPP) at the Medical University of South Carolina is a comprehensive evaluation program for professionals exhibiting signs of disruptive behaviors. The PPP accepts referrals from hospitals, medical and licensing boards, and other agencies with concerns of disruptive behaviors. The PPP’s evaluation protocol includes clinical interviews, psychological testing, use of collateral contacts, and offers the 360º Workplace Assessment (PULSE). Complete substance use assessments are conducted if relevant to the presenting issue. The evaluation provides referring agencies with an in-depth examination of the disruptive conduct, an explanation of factors (psychological, physiological, substance use) contributing to the conduct, and opinions regarding the professional’s overall fitness for duty. The evaluation will also provide recommendations for intervention, with intervention services available at the inpatient and outpatient level. Post-evaluation monitoring services are also available to assist the referring agency in assessing the professional’s progress towards targeted goals of conduct modification.For additional information or to request services please contact Alison Knight, Forensic Psychiatry Program Coordinator at (843) 792-1461 or via email at forensicpsychiatry@musc.edu.

Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship 

The Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at MUSC is a 12-month ACGME-accredited program that provides a diverse training experience to prepare psychiatrists to provide expert forensic psychiatric services in a wide variety of clinical and legal settings.  Our program is committed to educating clinicians in both the theoretical and practical aspects of forensic psychiatry. In doing so, the Forensic Psychiatry Program at MUSC provides an invaluable service to the state of South Carolina.  Each forensic psychiatry fellow’s time is dedicated to educational endeavors in a wide variety of criminal and civil matters. 

The criminal law core experience includes: Competency to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Evaluations as part of a contract with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health providing services to 8 counties in the coastal region and requests from private attorneys from around the state.  Fellows participate in the treatment of individuals involved in the criminal justice system through mental health clinics as well as currently incarcerated individuals at the Charleston County Detention Center.

The civil law core experience includes:  expert evaluation and consultation services to local Probate Courts for Civil Commitment Hearings for both mental illness and substance use; Conservator and Guardianship cases; Sexually Violent Predator Act commitment and release evaluations; sexual behavior evaluations as part of private civil actions; fitness for duty evaluations for state licensing boards and law enforcement agencies; and consultation liaison services to a psychiatric and general medical hospital on issues such as violence risk, suicide risk and capacity to consent/refuse medical treatment. Family law experiences include custody, visitation, parental fitness and parental rights termination consultations.  Besides the core curriculum, a fellow’s training can be tailored to fit specific professional interests.

Our faculty includes five fellowship-trained forensic psychiatrists and one board certified forensic psychologist. Among those, three are board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and one has additional certifications in the field of human sexual behavior and sex therapy.  Opportunities for forensic psychiatric research are also available.  Our faculty currently has ongoing state, private and federally funded research in which fellows are encouraged to participate or be mentored on their own research project.  Faculty are consultants to the local, state and federal criminal justice agencies with options for fellows to participate in provided services. 

Didactics include a weekly landmark case series and courses in the basics of law and psychiatry. Videotapes and mock trials are utilized to prepare fellows to present testimony in court. As part of the academic component of the program, fellows complete an academic project (paper, local, regional or national presentation, etc) and participate in a forensic psychiatry journal club. There are many opportunities for the forensic psychiatry fellows to teach general psychiatry residents.

There are a wealth of opportunities for didactic, research and clinical educational experiences for fellows in forensic psychiatry at MUSC.  Fringe benefits include funds to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) as well as the Forensic Psychiatry Review Course.  In addition, the Medical University of South Carolina is located in historic Charleston, South Carolina, where fellows enjoy the relaxing coastal environment with a wide array of cultural, educational, sporting, and family oriented activities.  

For additional information or to request an application please contact Alison Knight, Forensic Fellowship Coordinator at (843) 792-1461 or via email at forensicpsychiatry@musc.edu.

Medical Student Education Opportunities

PSYCH 870 - Forensic Psychiatry (4th year students)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This four-week elective is in Forensic Psychiatry. Forensic Psychiatry is a challenging and exciting field that interfaces psychiatry with the legal system. The rotation is designed to teach students the fundamental principles of forensic psychiatry, including principles related to mentally ill criminal defendants, issues related to the treatment of mentally ill in correctional settings, civil commitment procedures, and the fundamental differences between forensic psychiatric evaluations and clinical psychiatric evaluations. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of psychiatric disorders, including severe mental illness, malingering, personality disorders and substance use disorders. They will be provided opportunities to learn about legal matters as they pertain to psychiatric patients.

PSYCH 859J - Sexual Behaviors Clinic and Lab (3rd year students)

PSYCH 859 - Sexual Behaviors Clinic and Lab (4th year students)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Through their participation in this clinic fourth year students will acquire an in depth knowledge of healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviors, including forensic issues related to unhealthy, problem and offending sexual behaviors. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation and individual and group treatment of problem and offending sexual behaviors exhibited by adults, adolescents and children. Students will also participate in forensic evaluations and physiological assessments including penile plethysmograph, visual reaction time, and polygraph examinations.

If a faculty member is scheduled to serve as an expert in a legal proceeding (hearing, court, etc) on a sexual behaviors evaluation consultation, the students will participate in the preparation and accompany the faculty member to the proceeding. Students can include a research experience with their forensic and clinical experience, if they desire to do so. See the “Research Experience” section below for details.

Research Experience:

1.   Students will receive experience with the design, development, and conduct of research studies focused on sexual behavior. Students may be offered opportunities to join ongoing research projects, join a study under development, or propose their own study and receive mentorship from the elective’s faculty.

2.   Students have the option of including this experience with the aforementioned forensic and clinical experiences or as a stand-alone elective.

3.   Students will be included in presentations and publications derived from research in which they have participated and will be given co-authorship based on the level of their participation.

Forensic Psychiatry Program
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